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Black women are still left out of larger discussions of domestic violence because society at large does not care about their lives.

This essay contains discussions of violence against women Last week, Dr. Tamara O'Neal was gunned down by her ex-fiancé, along with two others in the hospital where she worked. It's reminiscent of when Karen Smith was killed during a school shooting carried out by her husband last year. He was a beloved pastor, though former partners had accused him of domestic violence in the past. Last week, Stefanie Vallery was stabbed to death by her estranged husband, and her sister and daughter were both severely injured while trying to protect her. So was Aisha Fraser, in front of her children. Her ex-husband, a former judge, had assaulted her so badly in 2014 that she needed facial reconstruction surgery. He served only nine months. Both of these instances harken back to when Jeannine Skinner was stabbed to death by her boyfriend last year. They had been dating a little over two months and he had a long history of domestic violence. She’d hoped she could help him. [caption id="attachment_50271" align="aligncenter" width="400"] Dr. Tamara O'Neal (Monte Gerlach Photography via AP)[/caption] Black women—followed closely by Native American women—are murdered more than any other race in the U.S., which means they are at disproportionate risk for death by domestic violence. In 1996, the Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban, also known as the Lautenberg Amendment, was established to prevent accused and convicted domestic abusers from purchasing guns. However, this ban did not require them to turn over any guns they already owned. Since then, some states have rectified this, effectively closing this gap, but most states have not, and this isn't the only loophole—the ban only applies to domestic and marital relationships and people who have children together, which leaves many people vulnerable within the “boyfriend loophole”. Additionally, abusers have even gone to court in efforts to have their gun rights returned to them, as they feel they never should have been taken away in the first place. Lawyers arguing their case have insisted that there is a hierarchy of violence, where if the violence is planned, it should be considered as a reason to keep guns away from the abuser, but that impulsive violence shouldn’t—which intentionally ignores the millions of victims of intimate partner violence (IPV). A study about nonfatal gun use in IPVs found that almost one million women in the U.S. had been shot or shot at by their partner, and about 4.5 million reported that an intimate partner threatened them with a gun. There is too strong of a relationship between IPV/domestic violence and mass shootings for us to keep shuffling misogyny and patriarchy on the back-burner during our conversations and actions to end gun violence.
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Religion is not infallible, and it continually creates space for its leaders to abuse the power that religious interpretations unquestioningly afford them.

[TW/CW: This essay contains discussion of sexual violence, including molestation.] My mom once scolded me for swatting the pastor’s wife’s hand away from my head. She had been intrigued by my intricate braids and lifted her hand to touch them. As she began running her fingers along the length of my hair, I cringed. I don't like to be touched, and this has been true about me for as long as I can remember. I especially don't like to be touched without warning, without my consent, and this is reasonable. My body has an involuntary response to it, like a jolt shooting through me. My cheeks get hot and the skin on my neck begins to crawl. I did not want to be touched by the pastor's wife in that moment, so I used my body to push hers away. I didn't understand the look that came over my mom's face; or rather, I understood what it was, but not why it was there. She was horrified and I was confused. “Don't do that,” she whispered to me through tight lips after when we were no longer in earshot. “It's rude.” I couldn’t have been more than twelve or thirteen. A few years before that, one of my uncles made me stand in front of him in his house and repeat the words, “Jesus is my boyfriend.” This was his way of telling me that I was not allowed to have a boyfriend and he tried to use the name of Jesus and the weight that it carried to scare me into staying “pure.” God and Jesus were the only male figures I was allowed to be intimate with. Believe me, I know how fucking weird this sounds. Even hearing it as a child, I was put off by it. This was a conversation that he had initiated and engaged me in, even though I had expressed absolutely no desire to have a boyfriend, or girlfriend for that matter. When I graduated college, I moved back in with my mom for a while. At this point, I had already left the church and denounced religion, but I didn't have the confidence to tell her. And so, I went to church with her. One Sunday afternoon, she came to me speaking in a hushed tone. The pastor’s wife had told her that they had planned to give me a graduation gift in front of the congregation that day, but they simply could not bring themselves to honor me and my accomplishments because they disapproved of the shirt I was wearing, i.e. my breasts made them uncomfortable.
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As long as our culture refuses to hold the Depps of the world accountable, there will always be women like Heard who will be tasked with watching their abusers prosper.

[TW/CW: discussion of domestic violence, rape culture and mentions of sexual assault.] New York Magazine's July 27th, 2015 cover is still as harrowing as it is iconic. Just beneath the bold red lettering of the publication's moniker are 35 women—the victims of Bill Cosby's serial sexual abusedressed in black and seated calmly in their chairs. The uniformity of their open poses and solemn, forward-facing expressions portray a shared preparation for public scrutiny, a feeling all too familiar to anyone who has ever spoken aloud of the abuse they have suffered. Seeing these women congregate in one image is an impactful sight on its own, but the standout element for many of us sits at the end of the last row: an empty chair. It remains unoccupied by all of the women who, despite the presence of nearly three dozen fellow survivors, still didn't feel supported enough to tell their stories. That doubt something that so many silent survivors harboris substantiated by a society that not only continues to interrogate, mock, and ultimately gaslight victims of abuse, but also protects their abusers when they are especially powerful or popular. Johnny Depp is an immensely popular actor. When he and actress Amber Heard divorced in 2016, Heard detailed for the court a history of physical and psychological abuse at the hands of Depp. Her testimony included pictures of her bruised face and a detailed witness account from a friend who had to physically shield Heard from Depp's assault. When his legal team claimed that Heard's accusations were false and motivated by possible financial gain, she promised to donate her entire settlement$7 millionto charity.
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There is no such art, no such glorious work of fiction, no such extraordinary performance, that excuses a real-life abuser.

By Candice Frederick It’s been a mere eight months since women in Hollywood first brought Harvey Weinstein’s horrid history of sexual assault to the masses, and just as long since the #MeToo movement catapulted to the mainstream, ushering in a new era in which women’s voices, victims of men including Bill Cosby, Louis C.K., R. Kelly, Junot Díaz, Matt Lauer, and Brett Ratner, were being validated unlike ever before. EIGHT. MONTHS. And already, countless apologists have rushed to defend these so-called “geniuses” whose work they’ve repeatedly asked us to consider as we reckon with their abusive behaviors. Some have even suggested these men can and should make a comeback. The latest example was Jason Bateman, who went out of his way to interject when New York Times reporter Sopan Deb asked Jeffrey Tambor, who’s been accused of sexual and verbal harassment, whether he expects to be on future seasons of their series "Arrested Development". “Well I certainly wouldn’t do it without [him],” Bateman said. Okay fine, he reveres his award-winning on-screen dad, but maybe take some time to think about the question at hand, which was really asking whether Tambor should be on the show (or working at all) since he has been accused of sexual harassment during his work with “Transparent” and creating a toxic on-set environment—particularly for his female colleagues including Jessica Walter (who is sitting right there with them during this interview!). But it seemed for Bateman, and so many other apologists, that he prioritized Tambor’s talent and career influence over his abusive behavior of which the 73-year-old actor said he’s “working on” and “has profusely apologized”. When Walter tried to insert her voice (in a conversation where she should have already been centered), Bateman once again re-focused the attention back on Tambor, describing his actions as “incredibly common” in an industry that is “a breeding ground for atypical behavior.” But, you know, “not to belittle what happened [between Walter and Tambor],” he added. Bateman has since apologized. Co-star Tony Hale has also tweeted an apology for essentially over-talking throughout that segment of the interview, and Tambor’s apology had previously been on record. They’re all just so sorry—and sadly so is Walter, who was so marginalized throughout the interview that she actually said, “I’ve just given up. I don’t want to walk around with anger.”
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