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Battered Women & Self Defense

As topics arise in law school... I am challenged to think of my own understanding of radical social work aspects and the United States law. Here is my reflection on the following article: Battered Women Self Defense

As a social worker, I often see racism, sexism, colorism, socioeconomic status, etc. impacting one’s ability to seek and rightfully receive justice. This also includes religions or religious beliefs of a man and or husband, being used as a tool to manipulate, justify, and cause harm; they all work simultaneously to diminish and dehumanize a person. These social influences and their impact I believe are very difficult to prove in court as self-defense, which is why I believe testimony should always be introduced to paint a picture of the culmination of issues that led them to court. I believe we all should protect and believe survivors as they share their testimony as proof, as they attempt to seek justice. I believe women in general, are socially and psychologically conditioned and treated as if they are unequal to their white male counterparts. A patriarchal society is a western ideology that Europeans brought with them. The patriarchal values and systems, along with slavery and colonization created a variety of social phenomena we see impacting us today.

In most Native American cultures, women are respected, protected, and valued for their input and insight. Colonization put an end to the value of women in our tribes. Colonization and capitalism reinforced the devaluing and diminishing of women, but specifically Native American and African American women due to the impact of colonization and slavery. We understand that the level of inequality, inequity, and maltreatment is “case by case” and contingent upon so many other societal influences including time. The VAWA Act of 1994 introduces to the USA that it recognizes domestic violence as a serious crime, however, Congress does not take direct action in addressing the general social maltreatment of women in America as second-class citizens; we are still fighting against issues like gender wage pay gap. The fact that women have to prove their worth through statistical data in order to fight for equal pay is a slap in the face to all women. If there is proof or evidence that is to be added to help make sense of the case then it should be added, but the validity of the evidence or testimony provided should not be questioned. If the validity of testimony is questioned, perhaps the justice system should rely more heavily on medical or mental health expert opinion and evaluations such as psychiatric and psycho-socials.

As the article shared abusers tend to be the breadwinners in the home which means survivors do not have income, stability, job history, etc. There are not enough resources for survivors to seek help prior to the incident that led them to court, nor is there nearly enough support for them through their process or thereafter. Often times it is easier for the survivor to go back to their abuser because they feel overwhelmed and lack support. There needs to be more education centered around trauma so we can understand how trauma impacts our brains, our inability to regulate our emotions and impulsivities, and how trauma influences our behavior. In a 1962 speech Malcolm X once said, “The most disrespected person in America is the Black Woman. The most unprotected person in America is the Black Woman. The most neglected person in America is the Black Woman”. Until the Black woman is protected by all of society, then society of women as a whole will not be protected. It is the act itself of not believing survivors, not providing support before, during, and after this process that contributes to the continued diminishment and dehumanization of the woman and the belief that we are in fact, second-class citizens.

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