On Thursday, newly-elected San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi was in court where he pled not guilty to misdemeanor counts of domestic violence battery, child endangerment and dissuading a witness. The charges are a result of a New Year's Eve encounter with his wife – Venezuelan TV actress Eliana Lopez – that allegedly became physical.
A neighbor to the couple reportedly received text messages from Lopez about the alleged incident and made a video in which – according to a police affidavit – Lopez says, "This is the second time this is happening ... I been telling him we need help and I'm going to use this just in case he wants to take Theo away from me because he did said that he is very powerful and can do it." Theo is the couple's 2-year-old son.
San Francisco Superior Court Judge Susan Breall has upheld an order barring Mirkarimi from contacting Lopez and their son despite pleas by both that the alleged incident is being blown out of proportion.
"The violence against me is I don't have my family together," Lopez said earlier this week. "I'm not afraid of my husband at all."
Many say he just grabbed her arm – allegedly, – didn't actually hit her and that the courts should allow them to move on … together. They say his actions – which he has admitted "something" took place – don't make him an abuser if it happened just this one time. So why not let this happy little family be under one roof, behind closed door, again to carry on with their lives?
Because regardless if this was the first time, one of many and/or will never happen again, there are clear signs that this situation is one of domestic violence.
Dictionary.com defines abuse:
– to abuse one's authority
– to treat in a harmful, injurious or offensive way
– to speak insultingly, harshly and unjustly to or about; revile; malign
– to commit sexual assault upon
– to deceive or mislead
Nowhere above does it says "more than one time."
Just the fact that abuse – by any definition – does apply to the incident is more than enough reason to keep the couple apart for the time being.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, about 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year. Experts say a battering incident is rarely an isolated event and tends to increase and become more violent over time. Most abuse cases are never reported to police.
Should Mirkarimi resign his new position as sheriff because of the attention it has brought the city and because many are crying “once an abuser, always an abuser?”
It really doesn’t matter. Until proven guilty, Mirkarimi is innocent. His day will come in court.
The important thing to remember that once, twice or multiple incidents of abuse in any form is an act of domestic violence. Both women and men need to understand abusive behavior comes in many forms and does not have to happen multiple times to be a problem.
And the only way to change this behavior is for one to acknowledge it and to get help.
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