Almost everyone has heard the story of the big bad wolf and little red riding hood. Of course the wolf has to be a boy, and red riding hood has to be a girl. This is the way we have been trained to think; the man is the perpetrator, and the woman is the victim.
And these roles are played out over and over again in American society, especially in domestic violence cases. But these violent acts aren’t about gender, they’re about the power and control one feels when physically, sexually, emotionally or verbally abusing someone else.
According to a 2010 survey by the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, one in four women were victims of severe physical violence by an intimate partner while one in seven men experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner.
A recent case alleges that San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi may have abused his wife, Venezuelan TV actress Eliana Lopez. Mirkarimi was recently charged with three misdemeanor charges after a New Year’s incident. One of the charges included battery of Lopez.
Another recent high-profile case illustrates that this issue isn’t about gender, but an abuse of power.
Assistant District Attorney Sanaz Nikaein was arrested with her husband, Faysal Nuri, for suspicion of domestic violence, last Saturday after getting into a scuffle at their home. They were both released on bail.
Let’s not forget that Nikaein works for District Attorney George Gascon, who is prosecuting Mirkarimi.
Both of these San Francisco figures are paid to uphold the law. They are both innocent until proven guilty, but if they did hurt their spouses, they deserve a lot more than to be put on leave. They need to be punished like everyone else.
According to the National Center of Women and Policing, studies show that at least 40 percent of police officer families experience domestic violence, as opposed to 10 percent of families in the general population.
Abusers are said to have a “Jekyll and Hyde” complex, which they can work to their advantage to make it seem like they would never do that. But domestic abuse is an unfortunate reality. Police officers draw even more advantage from being comrades with the men and women who report to the scene of their crimes. The victims of people in power face an even higher uphill battle.
It’s vital to break the cycle of abuse, and by treating these cases the same it would be a message to abusers and victims that the system does work, no matter who you are.
The cases of Mirkarimi and Nikaein are a chance to show domestic violence victims that they can fight and win. This could help give victims the strength they need to start a new future.
We should not cast Mirkarimi and Nikaein as abusers, but the justice system has a chance to show that domestic violence is taken as a serious offense no matter who the defendant is.
There is help. Go to Lacasa.org for help in San Francisco, or call (877) 503-1850. If you are an abuse victim of a police officer visit abuseofpower.com.