New York Times gets it right with domestic violence article by Karen Zraick

Okay, since I called out the New York Times on how they handled a domestic violence article just recently, I wanted to post this article that reports it fairly well.

The only criticisms I would have is that they say “man” in the headline rather than husband; they don’t provide any context on separation & divorce being the most dangerous time for a woman; and, they indicate she just couldn’t break the hold he had on her – this could be explained if they interviewed a domestic violence expert (for example: manipulation, threats, lack of affordable housing could all prevent a woman from leaving).  These 3 critiques would make an ideal article, but I realize it can be hard to find an expert in time or to have the space available to provide the context.

The article does provide a photo of the victim and it mentions positive things about her life. There is no victim-blaming. Kudos!

Bronx man is person of interest in wife’s death

More victim-blaming from the New York Times – this time from Liz Robbins

Why is it this society wants so badly to blame women for the crimes they experience?!? This is not just a phenomenon in rape, it also applies to domestic violence.

Here’s an article from the New York Times:

Man’s arc of domestic abuse led to death of an officer

I would have liked this article a lot more if it would have focused on the death toll of police officers responding to domestic violence. For instance, it could have covered how many officers die each year. How about how police officers sometimes fear responding to these calls because of the danger involved – maybe if society read that police officers have fear, they would realize how serious the situation is for women and their families. The headline hints at discussing this and then it goes right into victim-blaming.

Or, how about how this criminal was able to virtually evade a criminal justice system despite victimizing women? That should point to how ineffective the system is in responding to these crisis.

Man’s arc of domestic abuse led to death of an officer

The police said that in the past decade, 20 domestic incident reports had been filed against Mr. Villanueva; only six resulted in his arrest, according to two law enforcement officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation was continuing.

The disparity illustrates the complicated nature of such cases, which are fraught with fear, emotion and family politics. It is rare, one top Brooklyn prosecutor said Monday, that victims are willing to supply enough evidence for a case to go to trial, and because of that, it is rarer still to secure a conviction.

Wanda Lucibello, the chief of the special victims unit in the Kings County district attorney’s office, said: “These cases are much more complex than the usual case where all we have to deal with is talking to the victim about specifically what happened in time and place of occurrence. What we are trying to do is almost battle the power and the control and the intimidation that the offender has over the victim with a criminal justice timeline.”

“Along with the threats and the coercion,” she added, “sometimes love is mixed in with it, too — and untangling all of that while trying to help the victim is not easy.”

They do mention the abuser’s role here – but they should have ran with it. They should also have looked at the women’s view of the criminal justice system – but instead they talked to police officers. Therefore….they should have stayed on the topic of abusers killing police officers!!!! Who would know better than police officers. And who would know better than women to ask about how they feel about the criminal justice system!! Why was this overlooked?!

On Monday, Patrick J. Lynch, the president of the Police Benevolent Association, said in a statement that he questioned a system “that allows a vile and violent career criminal with scores of arrests for violent offenses to continue to walk our neighborhoods.”

OUR NEIGHBORHOODS? Are you kidding me? He targets women, not people in his neighborhood. At least he says he questions a SYSTEM – because the problem is the system, not the victims.

The ending really burns me up:

But Ms. Lucibello cautioned about drawing conclusions about domestic violence cases. “In about 75 to 80 percent of the cases,” she said, “the victims express reluctance, to some degree, in going forward.”

Why don’t we end on a note talking about how dangerous these men are? How they coerce women? How about how society blames women for staying with them? Do they know, for example, that it is actually safer to stay with an abuser than to leave him (because the greatest danger is in separation)? Do they know that the men who say “You’ll never get the kids” make good on their threat? That the men also threaten, abuse, and kill the family pet as a warning to what they can do to the woman? Or how about how the shortage of affordable housing makes it difficult for women to leave abusers?

Why do people have more sympathy for a witness who has to testify against a killer or gangster, and may even get police protection, or go into the witness protection program, yet they blame the wife or girlfriend of an abuser with a long criminal history who has no such protection? We blame those who know the perp and sympathize with those who don’t.

And instead of offering some fresh material on domestic violence, they rehash the same old myth – women are to blame for crimes committed by people known to them. 

New York Times, you not only blame victims, you report old news. In either case, I’m quite disgusted.


The New York Daily News did a much better job. Although they have one instance of victim-blaming:

On the frontlines of a war that’s fought 700 times a day in New York

If she had just stayed in the police car and quietly made the identification, then it likely would have been recorded as just another of more than two dozen arrests for Villanueva and just another of some 700 domestic disturbance calls a day, some 250,000 a year for the NYPD.

She instead popped out of the car and called out, signaling that he was no longer the one with power, no longer the one in control

“That’s him!”

Read more:

People have to take accountability for their actions – the woman is not a puppet-master.