It continues to be a real fucking mystery why women are reluctant to report assault and abuse:
[Seminole County, Florida, Judge Jerri Collins] sent [a female domestic violence survivor] to jail for refusing a court order to appear during the trial of her abuser. According to WFTV, she also had the option of fining the woman or ordering her to perform community service for failing to respond to the subpoena.As I have said before, I genuinely understand why people want to compel victims to testify, but tasking them with the responsibility for preventing men who abused them from harming anyone else is victim-blaming garbage. The responsibility is on abusers to stop abusing, and if they can't be held accountable for previous abuse by law enforcement and/or the courts without the participation of a survivor who does not want to participate, then that's just tough shit.
The unidentified man, who is the father of the victim's 1-year-old son, was accused of choking her and grabbing a kitchen knife. The woman says in courtroom footage that she refused to attend the trial because she was dealing with depression.
"Why didn't you show up to court?" Collins asks.
"I'm just, my anxiety, and I'm just –" the woman replies.
"You think you're going to have anxiety now?" Collins says. "You haven't even seen anxiety. We had a jury — six people there — ready to try [the abuser], who has a prior criminal history of domestic violence."
Collins later asks the woman whether her statements to police following the man's arrest in April were true. The woman says that they were, then explains, "I'm trying to move on with my life," saying she was living with her parents and had sold all of her possessions because she was not able to receive child support. Her abuser, she said, lost his job after being sentenced to 16 days in jail on charges of simple battery.
"I'm just not in a good place right now," the woman says while audibly holding back tears.
"And violating your court order did not do anything for you," the judge responds. "I find you in contempt of court. I hereby sentence you to three days in the county jail."
The victim can be heard crying as bailiffs approach. Collins then orders her to turn around in order to be handcuffed.
Inevitably, when I offer this opinion, I get pushback along the lines of: But don't you want violence against women to stop? Yes, yes I do. But forcing survivors to participate in prosecutions against their wills is revictimization and potentially a profound secondary trauma. That doesn't break the cycle of abuse so much as add a state-sanctioned form of abuse to it.
Further, if we're really concerned about preventing future assaults, then we have to foremostly make it safe for multiple survivors to report—and publicly revictimizing one survivor in this way stands to discourage multiple victims from reporting. That is bigger than even this one abuser.
I will never stop finding it utterly contemptible that, across the nation, police departments and prosecutors systematically refuse to cooperate with victims, but will arrest victims for refusing to cooperate with them. Fuck. That.