August 3, 1997 in Features

Abusers Should Be Punished As Felons

Ann Landers Creators Syndicate
 
Tags:column

Dear Ann Landers: It happened again, this time in Minneapolis. A man killed his wife after ignoring a restraining order. He kicked in the door, with their children in the home. They witnessed the entire scene. The abuse had been going on for a long time, and the wife was legally separated from the man after having spent many nights in a shelter for battered women.

How can judges let these guys go, time and time again, on the condition that they stay away from the women? They never do; they always return, more enraged than ever. Why is domestic abuse almost always considered only a misdemeanor? If the same assault occurred on the street or in the workplace, would it still be classified as a misdemeanor?

Why is this crime not considered a felony? Until the law views domestic violence as a serious crime, perpetrators will think it is their right to keep their wives or significant others in line by beating up on them.

The real issue here is power and control. Until society refuses to tolerate violence in the home and next door, abusers will continue to beat up on their victims and even kill them.

Perhaps we need a national forum, such as your column, to get a handle on this problem. Wife beating does not belong in the misdemeanor category. For many, it is a matter of life and death. Please, Ann, talk about this horrendous problem. It needs national exposure. - Alexandria, Minn.

Dear Alexandria: I have dealt with the subject of domestic violence in this space on a regular basis for many years, and I will continue to do so. Meanwhile, rest assured that I am in total agreement with you. Domestic violence should indeed be taken out of the misdemeanor category and labeled a felony.

Dear Ann Landers: Here’s another one for your crazy-lawsuit file. As an apartment manager in a small community in Florida, I’ve had to evict people for non-payment of rent. I don’t enjoy doing this, but it’s part of my job, and the owner expects me to handle these evictions properly.

Not long ago, one of the tenants was behind in her rent. She told me her check bounced because she was suing the government for $1 million and claimed there was some sort of conspiracy against her. She insisted that she would not have to pay any additional or past-due rent because the government would be responsible for it. After two more months without any payment, we started eviction proceedings.

She then sued our complex. The lawsuit claimed we were conspiring with the federal government, local grocery stores and utility services to deny her basic living necessities. When the judge threw out her case, she named him as a co-conspirator in her lawsuit.

It’s sad the courts are backlogged with cases that should never see the light of day. It gives our justice system a bad name. I think this woman needs medical help, and I hope she gets it soon. - Evictor

Dear Evictor: In a democratic country such as ours, not only is freedom of speech guaranteed, but anybody can sue anybody for anything. No matter how “goofy,” there is a lawyer somewhere who will handle the case.

Gem of the Day (pardon the immodesty, but credit Ann Landers): Some people believe holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength. However, there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go and then do it.


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