I just read your story about Lucia Pamatz and Christian Acosta. I am wondering why this story is so common compared to stories about male victims of domestic abuse. Domestic abuse is about control as much as it is about violence. Even after my ex-wife admitted I had never hit her Polk County continued to prosecute me. My story needs to be told too. I don’t want to just stir people up though. The fear of what is happening needs to be focused on a constructive outlet.
I grew up in this environment too. I suffered from night mares all my life as a result of the abuse on top of anxiety levels I was born with and a lack of coping skills.
I spent 12 years as a stay at home Dad and I have pursued recovery rigorously in order to stem the violence being handed down from one generation to the next (see my credentials as an attachment). But something happens when people like me stand up and advocate for change in the middle of a family and/or a community that have become comfortable with their dysfunctional place in a larger system. This is akin to whistle blowing in a family. This is whistle blowing in a community.
Now my criminal history says ” Harassment: as constitutes domestic violence.” Nothing could be further from the truth and there is no crime listed that fits this legal distinction. This is just one part of the price that is being paid by my children for my choice to confront Judge Sally Avera’s abuse of discretion. It is not just a hint, I have been told in plain English to leave the valley and the prosecution will stop.
But this is the side story. The important story is the constructive outlet. Restorative Justice is the larger issue. As a member of the Oregon Prison Project I have the opportunity to share the specialized skills I have developed over three decades to overcome the behavior patterns of abuse and neglect that have been handed down over generations, to facilitate a course correction for my family and for the community. Based on the book Non-Violent Communication: A Language for Life we take communication workshops into the community and into the jails and prisons. At the bottom of every email I send I include —communication is the problem and the solution. This strategy pursues the root cause for both male and female perpetrators because we are all responsible. Parenting classes were always one of my favorite strategies for re-parenting myself because I did not have to endure this burning, public focus on only my failures. Instead that was left for me to open up about (or leave silent) and the public focus was on what we could do next to improve our skills as parents. NVC communication workshops do the same thing, they leave room for the individual to own the mistakes and we are encouraged to do so empathetically. Admissions of responsibility are often met with affirmations for having the courage to take that all import first step. These are also learning opportunities and they are a key focus of empathy and self empathy.
Bridging the Gap is another local program that focuses on early intervention by providing mentors for young people still in Middle or High School.
The second part of a larger strategy to reduce violence in our society is Criminal Justice Reform. Shootings by the police, life sentences for juveniles and over-incarceration are things that exacerbate the problems and create more violence. Since 2013 Oregon has reduced the need to build new prisons and jails with the Justice Reinvestment Act yet Marion county persists in putting a larger percentage of people in county jail than any other county in the Metro Region or in the state. (see slides 35 – 45 http://www.oregon.gov/cjc/justicereinvestment/Documents/RIC/MetroNov2016.pptx) In other counties it is more common to use justice reinvestment dollars to divert people to services that address the root cause of their arrest. Marion county is to be commended on the progress they have made but this is just a beginning. Civic Groups including Oregon UU Voices for Justice, Bridging the Gap, Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, The Fellowship of Reconciliation (this list goes on) are now collaborating with each other to pursue solutions that include mental health services as an alternative to incarceration. The election of Trump has had the unintended consequence of motivating individuals and acting as an effective pry bar to get them off the couch and into action. This will entail some basic paradigm changes for officers of the court including Judges, DA’s, Public Defenders and Police Officers.
Please respond to this plea. Please collaborate with me to write a story that will accelerate the healing for our community and publish it. I want a better world with more opportunities for my children to learn to carry the torch.