Every now and then an article leaps out of the paper and punches me in the chest. (Actually, this should probably happen with 90% of the articles I read. Sometimes I don't know why all of us morning-paper-readers don't end up weeping, railing or marching after closing the last page.)
This morning's Boston Globe headlined an article about a domestic violence murder with these words: DA says suspect killed for love.
The words, "His lawyer Jack Atwood said manslaughter would be a more appropriate charge," appeared under a photo of the killer in his hospital bed.
"Love," the word, the concept, is written three times in the article: as explanation for this murder; as background information; as the murderer's feelings toward the victim; as his purported reason for killing this 24-year-old woman, 17 years his junior. Descriptions of the victim, courtesy of the murderer's roommate, describe her as lying, as complaining of being neglected, as being upset that the murderer didn't pay her sufficient attention.
What possible relation does this have to the murder? The defendant's lawyer calls it a "betrayal and jealousy case."
The Boston Globe reports the lawyer's beliefs that manslaughter is the correct charge, "citing his client's drinking on Sunday and his anger over the rodeo incident."
The victim's family is quoted once, saying that the man and woman were in "an abusive relationship." Almost five full paragraphs are allotted to the murderer's roommate, an apparent expert on domestic violence, describing the broken-hearted killer who cried and wanted the victim back.
How many times do we read these first reports of a domestic homicide, where the victim's profile is wrapped in the perpetrator's belief of his victim cheating, leaving him bereft, breaking his heart?
Where to start?
An article about a boy killing his parents contains no sins of the mother and father, real or imagined. A report of a mother having killed her son cites, appropriately, not a negative word about the child. An article about a homicideof a sixteen-year-old and wounding of a fourteen-year-old mentions, appropriately, the need for safety for youth. It did not list their faults.
What is it about men killing women that invites speculation of the women's worth? Their blame? Their role in their own murders? I fear it is a way our culture inculcates the drink offered by batterers; after working with these men for ten years, I've heard their excuses too many times to hear their words as newsworthy:
Men who abuse, men who kill, men who are violent in their homes -- they are in love with themselves, with their power, and with their sense of their own loss in this world. Abusers are obsessed with themselves and their own victimhood.
She ignored me. She spent my money. She's a bad mother, an awful daughter, an evil girlfriend. She cheated, she lied, she stole. Abusers piled up their partners transgressions, hoping they'd finally reach the one that would make me say: "Oh, now I understand. You're right. It's her fault. It's okay to hit, slap, punch, beat, kill her..."
They do not kill for love. They kill for hate.
And in the end, dead is dead. Friends mourn. Children are orphaned. Mothers and fathers are shattered.
Help is available 24 hours a day.
The victims of abuse are our friends, our family, our sisters and brothers. It could be a parent who is a victim of elder abuse; a neighborhood child being beaten. It could be our niece with the black eye.
Don't believe someone when they tell you it's about love. It never is.