On May 7th First Tuesday Films and The Dallas Peace and Justice Center will partner to bring Private Violence to our UUCOC screen. This film is in conjunction with the UUCOC’s social justice ministry’s Share the Plate for Families to Freedom, a nonprofit organization that provides transportation to victims of domestic violence so they might be safe.
Private Violence follows the lives of two women who have experienced domestic abuse. Deanna Walters as she works to find justice and closure, and Kit Gruelle, a past victim who now seeks justice for others.
I am not new to this topic. I have been a victim of domestic violence myself and have rescued others from similar situations. One of the things this film brings across that has always been a thorn in my side is just how difficult it is to prosecute the offenders. Walters was dragged across the country while being beaten in the back of a semi. When she returned to her home she discovered it was almost impossible to get justice because the most horrific part of her abuse did not take place in North Carolina, her state of origin. As a result, her husband was given little more than a slap on the wrist. It wasn’t until Gruelle and her personal advocate managed to make it a federal case that she found a way to punish him. It definitely wasn’t easy to make a federal case out of it either. It took a year of finding the right people to fight for Walters.
According to the National Domestic Abuse Hotline (www.thehotline.org) an average of 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States alone. That’s more than 12 million men and women over the course of a year. It affects all walks of life and all income brackets. In the film this particular point is emphasized given that a large number of the populace continues to believe it primarily affects the poor and minorities.
Another point made by Gruelle in the film is that women who kill their abuser spend, on average, more time in prison than men. The most damning question they are asked at trial is, “why didn’t you just leave?” The answer is far more complicated than the jury ever hears.
I personally did not realize I was a victim until a friend pointed it out to me. In my case, it was largely emotional abuse which did not fit with my early perception of what domestic violence entailed. This is probably true for many men and women in this situation. It’s not until the emotional abuse escalates to physical abuse that it can be prosecuted in most cases, and by that time the victim is often so invested in the relationship they cannot see what is really happening in their own home.
Private Violence is an important film to see if you are a victim of domestic abuse, or know someone who might be. It lays out what really happens in the relationship and what the consequences are when the abuse is allowed to continue.