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Sabine Reichel on Abused Women

January 31, 1994

Re "Some Women Nurture Misery," by Sabine Reichel, Commentary, Jan. 20:

I am shocked and pained to see that women are still being blamed for being beaten, pummeled, raped and murdered. I am a detective working domestic violence cases in South-Central Los Angeles, and I can tell you that the women who walk into this police station to drop the charges are trapped. Trapped because so very many of them do leave (their abusers) and he hunts her down and beats her for leaving. Beats her for calling the police. Beats her for trying to make it on her own.

Why doesn't she leave? Because leaving means knowing who to ask, where to go, how to begin. Because leaving means crime reports, restraining orders, paternity suits, divorce suits, child support suits and myriad court appearances. All this while working full-time, caring for children, going to doctors, doing the laundry, buying groceries. And on top of all this, that crazy person is beating her.

Why doesn't she leave? She shouldn't have to. Reichel should ask, "Why does he beat her? Why is he so obsessive, controlling, insecure, sadistic, cruel?" Asking why she doesn't leave is akin to blaming her for the violence he inflicts upon her. Blaming her for the crime he commits.

Why doesn't she leave? She shouldn't have to. He shouldn't hit her at all. Not ever. Not at all. Period.

MARIA E. GARCIA, Detective I

77th Street Detective Division

Los Angeles

How sad it is that Reichel sees the "truth" of relationships between men and women as "dark, irrational and turbulent, defined by ambivalence and laced with underlying hatred." Bad alliances are not exclusive to heterosexual, or for that matter any relationship, sexual or otherwise.

Relationships between people require a lot of give and take. What happened to love? Could the truth really be that it is only those people that subscribe to Reichel's way of thinking who are living without love and are having these problems with their relationships? I think so, and I pity them.

MICHAEL A. McNAMARA

Culver City

Thank you for the Reichel article on the Bobbitts. After I read it, I felt like standing on a table and shouting, "Yes!."

Reichel is absolutely right. There is not enough time on Earth for people to blame others for their mistakes. These three ideas--education, self-confidence and independence--need to be burned on the souls and psyches of all women. Brava, Sabine!

CATHERINE MIMS

La Mirada

As I read Reichel's article, I wondered what experiences, study or observations have shaped her skewed, cynical and grossly generalized perception of the relationship between men and women.

It would be much more penetrating and intelligent to discuss what makes our society so accepting of violence in intimate relationships and why any person feels he has the right to subjugate another.

To surmise that all female victims of abuse are "mentally lazy" and to conclude that the solution is "education, self-confidence and independence" reveals a shortsighted and surface level look at this issue. Blaming the victims for the abuse perpetuates its existence and keeps us from the real roots of the situation and its viable solutions. Where exactly should women go to get self-confidence and independence? Autonomy and options are neither readily available nor abundant in the lives of battered women. The real problem is not that these women are too stupid to take advantage of the opportunities to escape an abusive situation, it is that of being isolated from what little help may be available. The real problem is that we, as a society, would rather spend our money elsewhere.

I rarely see editorials or public outcry addressing the fact that assault in any instance is against the law, yet when assault and rape take place within an intimate relationship, these crimes usually do not rate arrest, conviction or jail time. The focus of our efforts should be at stopping violence in our homes rather than persecuting the person who falls prey to it.

MILLICENT RENE WATKINS LUMLEY

Aliso Viejo

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