There's an old truism about domestic violence that I've heard make the rounds of volunteers and victims alike: Want to be ignored? Yell "rape!" Want people to run to your rescue? Yell "fire!" All too often, women who reach out for help find themselves under attack for asking.
I won't have to repeat that bitter little saying any more -- instead I'll just pass along links to a scathing essay for the blog Tiger Beatdown by Contributor C.L. Minou. In Let’s Not Be Silly: The Marie Arraras 911 Call, and What It Means, Minou excoriates the eye-rolling responses of some police dispatchers to domestic violence calls.
Specifically, this blogger shares a news report and transcript of a call by Telemundo Correspondent Maria Celeste Arraras requesting police protection from her boyfriend. The transcript includes this language:
Arraras: They just hit me and tried to choke me. Please.
Operator: Who did that to you?
Arraras: Somebody that lives with me.
Operator: Okay then, who is that somebody? Let’s not be silly. Ma’am, answer my question.
Silly? asks Minou.
"I can think of a lot things that I might be when calling about how somebody I loved, who lived in my house, was attacking me, but silly just doesn’t seem to fit in there any place....Now look. I get that this is a horrible job, that most 911 dispatchers’ workday probably consists of prank calls, folks calling without a real emergency, and depressingly repetitive crimes all sandwiched around a few cases of pure brutal horror. So I’m not saying that 911 is sexist or that you shouldn’t call 911 if you’re in trouble. You should. But at the same time, I’m hardly doing much more than raising the MacKinnon Memorial Prize for Repetitive Observation by pointing out that all too often people in authority don’t take domestic violence seriously."
Minou doesn't just lecture. She links. Next comes a spectacular example of a domestic violence call gone wrong, in which a dispatcher is recorded telling Sheila Jones of Nashville, "I really just don't give a s**t what happens to you."
That attitude, that blame-the-victim-ology, is the real focus of Minou's furious typewriter:
"Because that’s it. Don’t call, and what happens to you is your fault. Do call, and what happens to you is your fault. Run, and what happens to you is your fault. Stay, and what happens to you is your fault. Fight, and what happens to you is your fault. Don’t fight, and what happens to you is your fault."
For her sarcastic edge and passionate prose, Minou on Tiger Beatdown is our BlogHer Voice of the Week.
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