What Happened To Dexter (And Other Shopping Horrors)

I’m uncertain as to how to properly trigger warn the story to which I refer in this post. Aggressive anti-gay sentiment and action on the part of a burly stranger against a toddler, and it could be so much worse but there is a hint of violence. I’m glad that I read it but I am seething and also going to take a clonazepam and fantasize about justified homicide for a bit. Sorry—I don’t like chocolate, so that’s how I make myself feel better.

I read this story, by Katie Vyktoriah. It is well-written, and describes her wonderful son, Dexter, and a frightening and haunting outing that they took just a few days ago.

I’m not going to go through the story itself because it is a good idea if you read it. There are wretched people in this world.

This story could be a lot worse. Most upsetting stores-and-children anecdotes involve a parent abusing a child or a situation in which the parent is clearly abusive. Those are the stories that reinforce the suspicions that plague me at all times. Those are the stories that keep me up at night because that child, and millions like him or her, are trapped in homes like that, in legal systems too restrained by the democratic process and sickening cowardice to do anything about it—or allow anyone to do anything about it.

I’ll be honest, one of the many reasons for which I hate going to stores such as grocery stores during the daylight is that there are children there. I don’t dislike children—I’m good with kids and I’ve worked with children. But I always suspect parents of being bad parents—and, specifically, abusive—until proven otherwise. Every time that I see a child with a parent, I’m (usually subconsciously) looking for sharp looks or frightened expressions that might be clues that domestic violence is a part of their life. It’s not like on television, where victims of domestic abuse have inexplicably broken arms and black eyes and have fathers who look like drill sergeants. For every scenario like that, there are countless more situations of domestic abuse in which marks are rarely, if ever, left on the victim. Monsters who rule their homes through terror and violence.

And I am never surprised by them. Ever.

Do you watch Game Of Thrones? During the tense moments when Sansa is at Joffrey’s mercy, do you find yourself tensing up, holding your breath, waiting for what cruel thing he will say or what capricious act of violence he will order?

I do, too. But I feel like that many, many other times.

That level of apprehension is how I feel when a parent whom I do not yet trust is interacting with a child. Always. I become incredibly anxious, to the point where I’ll avoid watching a television show. And to the point where that is one of the reasons for which I am more comfortable doing my grocery shopping as close to midnight as I can manage (though there are endless benefits to this).

When I have friends whose parents I know were never violent, that’s great. It’s a relief.

And then I have friends who had violent parents. And I know that there are millions more out there, as confirmed by surveys and common sense. In many of these cases, the abuse goes unnoticed or unreported. In so many others, people are uncertain if it was even a crime.

Most articles about child-abuse will get someone or another defending the abuser or the abuse itself, excuses ranging from “well she’d had a long day” or “that child needed discipline.” There are people out there who are willing to give a voice to defend this horrifying evil that has been a reality for billions of humans—likely for as long as humans have existed.

I know that not every child whom I see experiences some form of violence at home. There’s a chance that as many of half do not. I am well-aware that both my natural tendency to consider various possibilities and my PTSD are tremendous factors in how I experience the world. That does not make child-abuse any less evil, or any less a nightmarishly widespread part of reality.

I can honestly say that that story really struck a chord with me, because I am so accustomed to suspecting wrongdoing on the part of the parents (and so often that suspicion is reinforced by confirmation), one usually thinks of strangers as a threat for child-abduction.

I am pleased that Dexter has a mother who (from what I gather) is a good mother. She certainly acted appropriately in the situation that she describes in the article. Calling the police is something that I strongly recommend—if he could be identified from the security tapes at the store, he could at the very least have his life turned upside down for a while. He could be identified by the press. Most importantly, if that wretched creature has children of his own, charges of assault on a random toddler in a store should most certainly trigger an investigation.

Tragically, current US law will not allow for this man to be fed to sharks (even though Shark Week is only a few days away). But the toddler in question, Dexter, is not trapped at home with this man. Dexter’s story is distressing, but will not haunt my thoughts like so many other stories do.

You Might Also Like ...

Fair or Not? Police Officer Penalized for Off-Duty Domestic Violence

I find domestic violence appalling.  In fact, I find violence in general to be disturbing to the extreme.  I’m one of those annoying Pollyanna-esque folks always looking for the best in others, and violence invariably puts dents in my little bubble of denial.

But I am also all about fairness.

Which is why I found myself feeling … well, torn, I guess as I watched the news over my morning coffee today to see WMUR reporting that New Hampshire police officer William Soucy was being taken off patrol duty as the result of a domestic violence incident from last April.

Is a man with a propensity toward violence probably the best bet to be patrolling the streets of the Granite State’s largest city?  No.  Should police officers be expected to hold their tempers and avoid violence if at all possible?  Absolutely.

Does anyone know what really happened in April at Soucy’s home?  Well, besides Soucy and the other party(ies) involved, no.

Which leads to quite a conundrum …

Like Soucy, I am in a profession where the standard is higher than for your average Joe Blow.  In general, that doesn’t bother me.  As a teacher, I know that I am an automatic role model; that came with the territory, and I knew it when I signed my first contract.

So I don’t buy alcohol in the town where I teach.  I won’t drive if I’ve had more than a couple of beers.  I am paranoid when someone else breaks out a bag of weed when I’m at a get together.  I don’t stick up banks or trespass or skinnydip in public locations.  My profession has forced me to be a better person than I would probably have been otherwise, and I appreciate that.

But there is still a question of equity regarding why careers in education and law enforcement lead to a higher standard.

If Officer Soucy cashiered at Wal-Mart or worked as a big-time executive or landscaped for a living, this would not have been a news story.  In fact, it’s more than likely that his employment status would not be impacted in the least.

Domestic violence is wrong.

But so is injustice …


You Might Also Like ...

Religion and Family Violence

There has been a steady rise in non-affiliated religious people across the past twenty years. This is perhaps due to the “inverse relationship between modernization and religion” and growing acceptance of science. However, religion still plays a part in what many people consider being right versus wrong, and therefore can change a person’s actions.

In a nutshell, we seem to hate on religion around here. Whether you believe or not, religion still has it’s perks.

Considering the Torah, a woman is supposed to maintain peace in the household, or Shalom Bayit. Obviously, peace in the household is the desired state, but is it acceptable for a man to harm a woman for not maintaining the peace? Others use the Qur’an to justify abuse, and some Christians cite Ephesians 5:21-33 (the Bible) in the concept that wives are supposed to fully submit to husbands.

All three holy books consider divorce to be a sin. Therefore, if a woman is to leave an abusive situation and become divorced, she may have to sever ties to her religious community. Many religious leaders give bad advice or attempt to cover up abusive situations, due to their lack of training in the subject matter.

The above concepts from the holy books may help justify abuse or prevent a victim from leaving an abusive situation.

Individuals are using institutionalized, spiritual belief systems as backup for their harming others. In our American society, religion is often cited by the unreligious as a concept to keep the people from doing horrible actions to others. Religion serves as deterrent besides for the concept of jail. Legal issues ensue when an individual is caught doing something illegal.

However, religious issues of guilt and punishment are plausibly always happening, as a deity sees all and knows all. In the next life, heaven, etc, an individual will pay for their sins as decided by the greater power. All of these ideas are positive in nature, since they are designed to prevent a person from sinning/ harming someone else.

Religion is rarely applied in the opposite direction: how a religious belief may justify abuse.

Perhaps Jesus should have written an 11th Commandment: “Don’t hurt others.” Oh, wait, that would be “love thy neighbor as thyself”!

You Might Also Like ...

Don’t Hit Women. Thanks, Grey’s Anatomy.

I feel as if all of my posts have supremely obvious titles. Don’t Hit Women. Abercrombie Sucks. PornPornPorn. Sometimes, the world needs to be the point blank, black and white, throw it in your face kind of obvious.

Thursday, May 9th hosted the newest Grey’s Anatomy episode. Tonight will be the season finale. Last Thursday’s episode Readiness is All was emotional, dramatic, and fantastic. All are to be expected from a hit tv show that has stood up over nine seasons and has always been in the top 5 dramas currently on television.

Grey’s Anatomy has touched on many heart-wrenching and controversial issues over the years. It also plays host to a myriad of brilliant and admirable female character’s, including the woman that the show is named for, Dr. Meredith Grey. These women save lives and kick ass. They have fantastic, formidable careers and love passionately. They also sometimes make minor mistakes, make mistakes that can’t be condoned such as affairs, and deal with very real emotional issues.

They may be dramatic television characters that deal with horrific problems, but sometimes I wish that I was a Cardiothoracic surgeon surrounded by equally admirable, brilliant, studly men.

As the women of Grey’s would say, that sounds McDreamy. McSomething, I suppose.

Last week’s episode focused on a domestic violence situation between one doctor (Jo) and her doctor boyfriend (Jason). They had hit each other. She left the incident with facial bruising, and he left with brain trauma that nearly killed him. When he awoke, another doctor (Alex) blackmails Jason into not pressing charges. Alex tells Jason that is never acceptable to hit a girl. Jason protests, saying that Jo hit him as well. Alex responds with “don’t hit a girl; take it or walk away.”

I don’t agree. This type of situation isn’t to be excused. Take it? He should just take the violence? No, he should have walked away. I don’t think we should just excuse domestic violence when it is at the hands of a woman. Neither of them should be acting upon violent thoughts.

Instead of saying “don’t hit a girl,” we should be saying “don’t hit.” If we want equal treatment, we need to give it back to the men as well. I know that this common phrase, “don’t hit a woman,” is part gentlemanly ideals, part encouraging self restraint in men. This implys that men have lessened control over their violent thoughts; that they should restrain their self when these thoughts are towards women, but perhaps it is more ok for a man to hit a man. Men being manly, right? No. Just stop.

Men, don’t hit men. Women, don’t hit men. Men, don’t hit women. Women, don’t hit women! Don’t hurt each other! Walk away!

Don’t take it, and don’t give it back unless you really do have to defend yourself. If you really think that you will get hurt if you don’t fight back, and there is no way to leave the situation, then by any means possible, defend yourself. Defend yourself until you are able to leave the situation.

I worked at a suicide hotline for a notable duration, and I was amazed by what terrible situations people’s lives truly could be in. These calls were not from third world nations or slums, but from my backyard.

People face violence everywhere. Violence happens in every pay scale. Don’t be a part of it. Stand up for yourself without breaking someone’s face.

You Might Also Like ...