Monday morning, WSMV reported on Claude Delanore Maney, who allegedly picked a woman up for a date, took her to his house, and when she asked to be taken home, strangled her into unconsciousness.
The story ends, "The couple had only been dating for a week." As if there's some length of time you can date someone when choking her into unconsciousness because she wants to go home is less strange, more understandable? Oh, three years? Well, then it totally makes sense he would try to kill her.
What I think the writer, Annie McCloy, was trying to get at is that it's not like they'd been together long enough for there to be some gradual build-up to the assault, no earlier incidents that might have served as warning to her.
But I'd just like to take a slightly different perspective on it. A lot of the time, you'll hear people second-guessing victims of domestic violence. Why didn't she just leave? Why didn't he kick her ass to the curb? Many years ago, I asked a woman who had worked at a family crisis center why some people get hit just once, and that's it. The answer? They leave and never look back. But most people who are in abusive situations have to leave a number of times before it seems to stick.
That family crisis center worker said something else that has remained with me: When a woman leaves after being hit the first time — never to return — it's because the abuser hit her too soon. He misjudged whether he'd run her down enough to get her to accept responsibility for his behavior.
That's why I kind of roll my eyes at the whole "they'd only been dating a short time" formulation. And that's why I think it's important to point out that no one deserves to be abused. No one has brought it on his or her self. People who abuse do it because they can, and because it gets them what they want. In Maney's case, he seems to have gotten his way — at least until his victim was able to escape. It's not the victims' fault that their abusers think they get to use violence to get their way.
If you are being abused, Tennessee has a domestic violence hotline available 24 hours a day. The number: (800) 356-6767.