In March of this year, a 35-year-old woman was shot once in the arm and once in the chest by her ex-boyfriend. After luring her to his house with tears and promises to leave her alone, the man told her "I'm gonna shoot you and wait until you die" before threatening to kill himself. After a lengthy hospital stay in critical condition, the woman survived to live through what must seem like another nightmare.
Earlier this month, a judge in Alleghany County told the gunman that he didn't deserve a mandatory five-to-10 years in prison for his crime.
Despite planning the crime, telling the woman he was going to kill her, shooting her twice, fixing his jammed gun and waiting more than two hours to call 911 it seems Judge Mariani believed the gunman when he cried and said the whole thing was an "accident" and he had just "made a mistake."
The man was found not guilty of attempted homicide.
After the hearing, the amazed victim who suffered months of physical therapy said "He tried to kill me. It makes no sense."
She's right. It makes no sense that a judge can be sympathetic to a violent abuser, especially in a day and age with so much information available about domestic violence.
In addition to making one wonder just how Judge Mariani defines "cold-blooded," the judge's remarks which reinforce the need for National Domestic Violence Awareness Month happening now perfectly represent the kind of thinking being targeting by a new statewide campaign.
"Say No More to Domestice Violence in Pennsylvania' is part of the national "No More Together We can End Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault" campaign aimed at breaking the silence and challenging the stigma attached to domestic violence.
The goal is nothing short of shifting social norms and creating a social change to influence public policies and priorities to prevent domestic violence.
The need for this campaign is painfully obvious. In the 10 years between 2001 and 2011 1,535 women, men and children died in Pennsylvania because of domestic violence. They were shot, stabbed, strangled, bludgeoned, electrocuted, burned and killed in ways only vicious abusers could imagine.
The question for you is 'How can you help? And to what exactly can you say "no more?"
Say "no more' to blaming victims of domestic violence for the abuse.
Say "no more" to trivializing the violence.
Say "no more" to excusing abusers even if they cry and call it a "mistake." And yes, Judge Mariani, this includes "no more" apologizing to abusers for having to endure the consequences of their crimes.
Say "no more" to looking the other way and pretending you don't see or hear the abuse Say "no more" to not calling 911.
Say "no more" to seeing domestic violence as a private family matter. It is a costly community concern.
Say "no more" to minimizing the obstacles victims face in leaving the abusers and "no more" asking, "Why doesn't she just leave?"
Say "no more" to thinking domestic violence only happens in certain neighborhoods to certain people. Domestic violence can rear its ugly head in any home in any part of this community.
Say "no more" to remaining silent and not offering your help when you suspect someone is a victim. Educate yourself so you can be a beacon of hope for someone else.
The last word of this goes to the victim who eloquently summed up the burden she and other domestic violence victims must always bear: "I have to see the scars every day, but the emotional ones I know will never go away."
YWCA Northcentral PA
Submitted by Virtual Newsroom