This week, in a group of kids 6-9 at the shelter, a new member decided to recount the story by Dr. Seuss about the “Grinch”, a horrible creature who stole a whole village’s Christmas toys. His retelling was accurate and had a happy ending.
My story, I warn the kids will start like theirs, but since it’s my story, it will be different. My stories don’t have happy endings. They are “normal”, as in often equivocal but usually with some hope for the future.
My message tends to be life will be tough, but it can be good-- and my bad guys get punished. So in my story, the Grinch was discovered in the act and put in jail. He didn’t become a model citizen but he never ruined Christmas for the village again. My moral at the end of the story? “The bad guys deserve to be punished.”
I don't let the “bad guys” off because today many batterers are not punished sufficiently for how they ruin their partner’s and his/her children’s lives. Most seem to be great actors, great liars, and excellent at manipulation—of lawyers, judges, friends, family, bosses.
Fortunately, many professionals and others are becoming more savvy about domestic and dating violence. Newspapers are printing more stories about this serious problem; stars and others are "coming out" about their experiences. Books and essays are being written and laws changed.
Most important, more courts are becoming aware of the real picture behind the “nice guy” whose wife is “lying, exaggerating, or abusing” him. The percentage of abused men is very small compared to the percentage of abused women.
So let’s get real. Let’s put the bad guys in jail—for as long as we can. No more second and third chances when they violate the protective orders. No more light sentences when they cripple or kill their partners.
It’s time the victims got their due—safety and peace of mind.