Vikki Law: Resisting Gender Violence Without Cops or Prisons

“While citing the important work of INCITE: Women of Color Against Violence, Law argues that “today, abuse is treated as an individual pathology rather than a broader social issue rooted in centuries of patriarchy and misogyny. Viewing abuse as an individual problem has meant that the solution becomes intervening in and punishing individual abusers without looking at the overall conditions that allow abuse to go unchallenged and also allows the state to begin to co-opt concerns about gendered violence.”

Furthermore, “the threat of imprisonment does not deter abuse; it simply drives it further underground. Remember that there are many forms of abuse and violence, and not all are illegal. It also sets up a false dichotomy in which the survivor has to choose between personal safety and criminalizing and/or imprisoning a loved one. Arrest and imprisonment does not reduce, let alone prevent, violence. Building structures and networks to address the lack of options and resources available to women is more effective. Challenging patriarchy and male supremacy is a much more effective solution, although it is not one that funders and the state want to see,” says Law.

In our new video interview, Law builds upon her earlier prison abolitionist critique by discussing practical alternatives for effectively confronting gender violence without using the prison system. She cites many success stories where women, not wanting to work with the police, instead collectively organized in an autonomous fashion. Law stresses that at the foundation of these anti-violence projects is the idea that gender violence needs to be a seen as a community issue, as opposed to simply being a problem for the individual to deal with.

One group spotlighted, Sistah II Sistah/Hermana a Hermana, in New York City, was formed to confront both interpersonal violence and state violence. They formed discussion groups where experiences are shared and the women collectively decide what tactics and strategies to employ. In one instance, they confronted an ex-boyfriend, who was stalking a member of the group, by going to his workplace, where they demanded he stop and successfully enlisted the support of his employer and co-workers.

Self-defense advocacy and training is another tactic employed by many of the groups cited by Law. For example, in the 1970s, two feminist martial artists founded Brooklyn Women’s Martial Arts (BWMA), later renamed the Center for Anti-Violence Education in the 1980s. Along with teaching practical self defense techniques at sliding-scale classes, Law emphasizes that the Center also focused on the larger picture of how violence “holds different types of oppressions together,” resulting in a complex situation for poor women of color.”

See also: The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Partner Abuse in Activist Communities (INCITE!)

Police domestic violence nearly twice average rate

Via SF Gate:

Law enforcement officers beat their wives or girlfriends at nearly double the rate of the rest of the population, and trying to control that is not only difficult for the victims but potentially deadly, experts say. […]

Even advocates for battered women are reluctant to dive into domestic violence cases involving police for fear of alienating the agencies they rely upon for help in other abuse cases. […]

“The biggest problem for a woman reporting that she’s been abused by her police officer husband or boyfriend is that nobody believes you,” said Diane Wetendorf of Chicago, who wrote a nationally used victim handbook, “Police Domestic Violence.”

“If you do speak up, the police are very good at turning the accusations around,” Wetendorf said. “The women get terrified, too, so the crime is very under-reported. There is a legitimate fear of retaliation.” […]

Several studies, according to Gandy and Wetendorf, indicate that women suffer domestic abuse in at least 40 percent of police officer families. For American women overall, the figure is 25 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. […]

Aside from the fear of violent retaliation, women abused by police can also have trepidation about costing their husbands their jobs and jeopardizing their own economic future, Wetendorf said. Often, they also encounter skepticism from the same law enforcement system they are complaining to.

“A big part of police culture is the code of silence,” she said. “The prosecutors depend on police for their cases, the police depend on each other – it’s a very insulated system.”

[…]

(Read the full article here.)

Question: Considering that police are actually more violent and abusive than most people in society, why would people expect that they are going to protect us from violence?

See “Drunken off-duty deputy tried to arrest woman at bar when she resisted his advances“, from Police State USA