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Ian Lind • Online daily from Kaaawa, Hawaii

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Victims denial of abuse needs to be put in context

September 13th, 2014 · 17 Comments

It looks like this case of apparent domestic abuse in a public place by a Honolulu police sergeant isn’t going to fade away quickly. That’s good, because it it seems to me there are lessons here for the news media, as well as everybody else.

Here’s an excerpt from the Hawaii News Now story broadcast earlier this week when the case was first reported.

A recently-promoted Honolulu Police Department sergeant with a history of domestic violence accusations is under internal investigation after a security surveillance video surfaced showing him apparently beating up his girlfriend in the Waipahu restaurant where she works.

But the girlfriend told police investigators and Hawaii News Now it was a “misunderstanding” and the two were “just playing around.”

The video showed off-duty HPD Sgt. Darren Cachola — an 18-year police veteran — appearing to assault the woman, who says her name is Deberah.

She’s a manager at Kuni Restaurant in Waipahu that had closed for the night when the incident happened about 10:20 p.m. Monday.

The video showed him repeatedly punching her as they moved through at least two rooms at the restaurant. Co-workers can be seen coming to her aid.

HPD has temporarily removed Cachola’s police powers and started an investigation after a citizen provided HPD the video Tuesday.

“The knee-jerk reaction for myself was, this guy needs to be arrested, and needs to be brought to justice as a police officer,” said HPD Chief Louis Kealoha. “But when you step back and compose yourself, then you think what needs to be done.”

But his girlfriend told police internal affairs investigators Wednesday afternoon this was all a misunderstanding.

“I hit him first and we were just playing. There was no danger, no injuries, no problem,” Deberah told Hawaii News Now.

She told officers who were called to the restaurant she did not want to file a police complaint.

She said she stayed at his house the night of the incident at the restaurant.[Emphasis added]

The woman is quoted in a straightforward manner. Nothing wrong with that. But, if not put into context, these quotes could cause the reader to question whether there really was an incidence of abuse.

This isn’t a new problem, and there’s a lot of research on the issue of why victims often stay with their abusers. It’s context that is essential for understanding such situations.

Perhaps a short caveat should be routinely incorporated when reporting stories on abuse, something like this: “Experts say it is common for victims to deny or excuse their abuse out of a complex combination of factors, including fear, shame, and emotional or economic dependence.”

The Los Angeles Police Department’s website includes information on this issue (“Domestic Violence: Reasons Why Battered Victims Stay With the Batterers“).

Here are some of the considerations pointed out by LAPD:

• The victim loves the batterer… the batterer is not always violent.

• The victim fears the batterer, believing the batterer to be almost “godlike.” Often threats are made against the victim, for example, the batterer will kill the victim if the beatings are reported to anyone. Police, in the victim’s eyes, offer no long-term protection from the batterer.

•The victim may be economically dependent on the batterer and, not having a marketable job skill, the victim has no realistic alternative to the batterer’s financial support.

•Socialization and/or religious or cultural beliefs demand that the victim maintain the facade of a good marriage.

• Often the batterer is the victim’s only psychological support system, having systematically destroyed the victim’s other friendships. Other people also feel uncomfortable around violence and withdraw from it.

• The victim may rationalize the beatings, believing that the victim must have “deserved” the “punishment” or that the batterer was just “too drunk” to know what the batterer was doing (beliefs the batterer propagates).

• The battering takes place during a relatively short period of time. Afterwards the batterer may be quite gentle, apologetic, loving, and may promise never to beat the victim again.

• The victim may be convinced that this beating will be the last.

Hmmmm. I wonder if HPD officers are trained in these considerations? We probably don’t know, because so much of the department’s policies and practices are shrouded in secrecy.

And that’s the second point for reporting on incidents involving police officers. The reporting needs to consistently cite the lack of transparency regarding information of police abuse and misconduct. The lack of accountability is an underlying theme that shouldn’t be pushed into the background.

There’s lots more information readily available on the situation of abuse victims. Here are a few.

Time.com, “Why Women Stay: The Paradox of Abusive Relationships

Wellesley Center for Women, “Battered Women: What Goes Into the Stay-leave Decision?

PsychCentral.com, “Why Do Abused Victims Stay?

→ 17 CommentsTags: Crime

Feline Friday: Chasing the laser

September 12th, 2014 · 4 Comments

Ms. HarryFriends gave us a little present meant for the cats. It’s one of those laser pointers. Flash that red dot and cats track, chase, and pounce. It’s not the best prey, since it rather miraculously escapes every time, but it does seem to ramp up their adrenaline. I think all the cats have shown interest in the first few tries. The problem is keeping them from squabbling over the hunting rights at any one time!

Apart from that, it’s been status quo this week. Good news was that Costco has a different brand of insulin syringes at 1/3 the price of the former brand. Now if there was just a price break on the tiny bottle of insulin, which is now well over $200. They really have us over a barrel, with two cats needing the shots morning and evening.

I do have to keep a squirt bottle full of water on the table with me while working at my computer, since Romeo fusses under my chair telling me that he would REALLY like to go outside and pick a fight. I give a surreptitious squirt when he starts clawing my feet and it sends him scurrying to escape the wet.

So it goes on this warm Feline Friday.

–> See all of today’s Friday Felines!

→ 4 CommentsTags: Cats · Photographs

Sharia Law is closer than you think…The Pakistan-Pennsylvania connection

September 12th, 2014 · 2 Comments

Yesterday morning, we happened to hear an NPR story describing the situation in Pakistan, where blasphemy is a capital crime (“Activists Worry Pakistan’s Blasphemy Law Is Being Abused“).

It’s a disturbing story.

Blasphemy laws were introduced in the subcontinent during the 19th century by British colonial rulers. The aim was to damp down sectarian conflicts in what was then a land of many faith, offenders could be jailed for several years. The law was amended in the 1980s by Pakistan’s Islamist, military dictator, General Zia Ul-Haq. The change meant that defiling the name of the prophet could trigger the death penalty – a punishment the later became mandatory. The accused can be arrested without any substantial evidence; there’s no bail; there’s no punishment for deliberately making a false allegation. Human rights organizations say that more and more the laws being used to settle vendettas and target minorities.

It’s a good thing that couldn’t happen here, or so I thought.

Then I saw another news story describing a case in Pennsylvania.

A Pennsylvania teenager is facing criminal charges after posting pictures to Facebook of him simulating a sex act with a statue of Jesus.

Here the crime isn’t “blasphemy” like in Pakistan’s Islamic law. Instead, it’s “Desecration of a Venerated Object.”

Not a capital offense in America yet, but the kid could get two years in a juvenile prison, according to the news reports.

I guess that I failed to notice when very bad taste became criminal blasphemy desecration.

→ 2 CommentsTags: Crime · Politics

Looking back to 9-11

September 11th, 2014 · 3 Comments

I just took a look back at what I posted on September 11, 2001. It was a very modest entry, a placeholder, really.

I wasn’t using blog software back then. Instead, I updated daily and then saved a week’s worth of entries. Click that link above, and you’ll have to scroll down to the entry for the 11th.

No entry today, just a moment of silence as we watch events unfold a half world away

We went out walking early, not knowing what else to do. Another of our regular morning characters, who lives across from the beach, was sitting just feet from the water in a folding chair with fishing poles on either side of him.

He said he didn’t know what else to do either.

“I guess I should say a prayer for all those people….”, he said in a fading voice. As should we all.

But I got up the following day and wrote with conviction. That entry is, unfortunately, as apt today as it was then.

I’m sitting here in the dark after finding it impossible to get back to sleep. Instead, I was laying in bed grappling with the question of responsibility for yesterday’s events. Who’s the enemy? I’ve got my own thoughts.

The enemy is violence, and the idea that escalating acts of violence can, in the long run, achieve political objectives or resolve essentially political conflicts.

The enemy is a national policy that treats attacks on civilians as an acceptable military strategy, and a legitimate means to pressure and manipulate their leaders.

The enemy is propaganda and jingoism, no matter how popular, that dehumanizes opponents to such a degree that their suffering brings cheers, and their pain a reason to celebrate.

The enemy is a holy righteousness that claims divine sanction for its own acts of destruction and terror, while denouncing those of the infidels on the other side.

The enemy is the inability to see oneself through the eyes of our enemies and admit that there might be a kernel of truth behind their point of view.

And the enemy is the stubborn belief in our own innocence, and the failure to recognize that, if there’s a rogue nation-state in today’s world, many say it’s our own, moving unilaterally to undermine international environmental accords and arms control agreements, blocking long-term efforts to reduce the arms trade, clinging to military solutions even in the face of opposition from friends and allies.

We are so right in our rage and sorrow about what happened yesterday, but it’s obvious that, as a nation, we lack the will and character to break out of the cycle of violence and revenge. We’re much better at war than at peace, and I fear that we’re all in for a hard ride ahead.

Enough. We’ll obviously all be struggling with these issues, and the fallout from yesterday’s incredible events, for years to come.

→ 3 CommentsTags: General

Breaking down the sources of political contributions

September 11th, 2014 · 2 Comments

In response to my preliminary musing yesterday about campaign contribution data now available online for download and analysis, Natalie left a comment with a couple of suggestions.

She would be interested in knowing how much of a candidate’s money comes from outside of their own district, and what the breakdown is between different types of contributors, such as individuals, corporations, and PACs.

I just took a quick stab at the second question, looking only at contributions of $100 or more received during 2014 and reported by candidates, due to limitations in the way contributions are reported. So these data do not show the relative role of small contributors who give less than $100 play in a campaign, a category that is likely to be significant for smaller campaigns.

Hawaii’s law breaks down campaign contributors according to broad categories. Individual contributors are reported separately from “Noncandidate committees,” and “other entities.”

The category of “noncandidate committees” refers to organizations established to make contributions to candidates. Political action committees, or PACs, make up most of this category, whether they are established by unions, corporations, interest groups, or other associations. Political party committees and so-called “Super PACs” are also noncandidate committees, but contributions from political parties are listed separately, and Super PACs cannot contribute directly to candidates.

The Campaign Spending Commission’s data includes another category, “Other Entities,” which are primarily corporations, unions, and businesses which make contributions but have not established separate PACs.

In practice, though, most candidates confuse the “noncandidate” and “other” categories, often using the two categories interchangeably, so you have to be cautious in drawing conclusions directly from these data without double-checking on individual candidate’s reports.

Click here to see the a list of candidates with a breakdown of the amounts received from each type of donor. Remember, this listing includes only those contributions of $100 or more from any source. It reflects the contributors as they were reported by the candidates, and may not accurately reflect the split between PACs and corporations.

But even these rough data are interesting.

→ 2 CommentsTags: Campaigns · Politics