Everyday Victim Blaming

challenging institutional disbelief around domestic & sexual violence and abuse

Criminalising women for failing to testify in cases of domestic violence makes a mockery of the justice system

A young mother in the state of Florida has been sent to jail for contempt of court. Her crime: failing to appear at the trial of her former partner despite being subpoenaed.

A video of the hearings has been released. Yahoo News claims it shows the mother

"emotionally pleading with a judge as she is sentenced to jail time for ignoring a subpoena to appear at her alleged abuser's trial."

We haven't seen the video due to jurisdictional issues with the host so cannot comment on the video but only what appears in the Yahoo article.

The man, who has a prior conviction for domestic abuse, had choked the victim and threatened her with a kitchen knife.

The woman, who is dealing with depression and anxiety since the incident, had asked for the charges to be dropped following a domestic abuse class because she was homeless and needed the child support money.

The victim needed the charges dropped so that her former partner would not lose his job and be unable to pay child support. These are the decisions women living with domestic abuse are required to make.

Rather than recognising the consequences of trauma, poverty and homelessness, a judge has chosen to send this woman to jail. Apparently, the judge could have given a community service order rather than jail. Neither option is appropriate.

A criminal justice system which does not recognise the rights, safety and mental health of a victim is inadequate. Poverty and homeless should not be factors in a woman's decision on whether or not to charge her current or former abusive partner. The Florida State Attorney did not need pursue a contempt of court case against a homeless mother.

Yahoo News ends with the perpetrator's sentence of 16 days in jail. It doesn't mention the consequences to a one year old child whose main caregiver has been sent jail for being ill and poor.

Criminalising women for poverty and living with domestic abuse makes a mockery of the criminal justice system.

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