Archive for Tuesday, August 8, 2006

Case highlights vicious cycle of domestic abuse

August 8, 2006

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Nearly five years ago, Linda Begay told police that her boyfriend, Christopher Belone, had grabbed her outside their trailer, choked her, punched her, kicked her and told her, "I am going to kill you."

But Belone was never convicted of domestic battery in that case. The day before it was scheduled to go to trial, prosecutors in then-Dist. Atty. Christine Kenney's office dismissed it, leaving a note in the court file: "Victim uncooperative and unable to be located."

In June 2003, Belone was again charged with beating Begay, but prosecutors encountered similar troubles, although Belone was convicted on a related charge of battering a police officer.

Now, Belone stands accused of murdering Begay at Gaslight Village mobile-home park, 1900 W. 31st St., by punching her and beating her with a wooden object - the third domestic violence death in the Lawrence area in the past three years. Begay died Aug. 1 at a Topeka hospital, three days after the beating occurred.

Both Mary Miller, who died in 2004, and Carmin Ross, who died in 2003, were killed by a husband or ex-husband. But in those cases, unlike in Begay's, there was no known history of physical abuse.





Domestic violence by the numbers

¢ In 2005, there were 146 domestic-battery criminal cases filed in Douglas County District Court - 136 misdemeanors and 10 felonies. ¢ Domestic battery is a misdemeanor on the first and second offense, but it becomes a felony on the third offense within five years. Upon a third or subsequent conviction within five years, the person must be sentenced to at least 90 days' imprisonment, but can be placed in a daytime work-release program after 48 consecutive hours behind bars. ¢ According to a statewide Kansas Bureau of Investigation study in 2002, in most domestic-violence cases the victim is either the child of a boyfriend or girlfriend (30.4 percent) or the spouse (21.5 percent). ¢ Detailed statistics were not available Monday on the number of domestic-violence arrests made each year by Lawrence Police, but in 2002 there were 154 arrests in Lawrence, according to the KBI. ¢ Help is available in Lawrence through Women's Transitional Care Services, 843-3333 or 1-800-770-3030.

Begay's prolonged involvement in her relationship with Belone, despite the repeated arrests, shows that there's only so much the system can do to stop domestic violence.

"They get mad. They argue with each other. They call the police. Police respond, and in the interim, they make up and they're back together. That's really the challenge of these kinds of cases," said Greg Robinson, a former Lawrence Police officer who is now Belone's court-appointed defense attorney.

Hard to get out

According to Women's Transitional Care Services, a local agency that serves battered women, it takes an average of seven incidents for a woman to leave an abusive relationship. Elyse Towey, a court advocate for the agency, said a common misperception is that women don't get out of an abusive relationship in part because they thrive on the abuse.

"There may be kids involved. There may be financial reasons," Towey said. "They may feel that they don't have any other place to go or any way to get out of it."

Begay, 37, and Belone, 35, have a kindergarten-age son, who was taken into state custody after Begay's death. On Monday, Belone appeared before Judge Jack Murphy and was charged with intentional second-degree murder, as well as violating a court order not to go near Begay - an order that stemmed from a battery case in June that was still pending at the time of Begay's death.

Murphy set Belone's bond at $300,000.

According to court records, Belone often lashed out physically when he was drunk, and he had undergone court-ordered substance-abuse treatment. Dreama Biggers, an acquaintance of the couple, said that although she didn't witness the July 29 beating incident, she'd seen Belone punch Begay in the past - and vice versa.

"Nobody would get through to her that she can't raise a child the way she was doing it," Biggers said.

Law enforcement policies

One dynamic that affects domestic battery cases is that, under Kansas law, police must arrest someone if they come to a home and find probable cause that a battery between household members has occurred - even so much as a shove, or a door slammed on someone's foot.

"The emotional state of those involved, socioeconomic impact, effect on the mental status of the children, long-term effects on the family or the wishes of the victim are not to be considered in making the decision to arrest," the Lawrence Police Department's policies state.

As a result, prosecutors often end up with victims who are reluctant to testify. In two domestic violence cases this year, Dist. Atty. Charles Branson's office has asked a judge for an "in-custody subpoena," in which the victim is arrested and brought before a judge to post bond as a way to ensure future court appearances.

In his 2004 campaign, Branson criticized then-incumbent Kenney for using that same power, saying that domestic violence victims are afraid of the system and "forced to testify when they do not want to." He said he still believes the subpoenas were being used improperly when Kenney was in office as a way to force victims to either testify or stop calling the police.

Now, he said, they are used "very rarely and only when we believe someone is in danger."

Comments

Sigmund 8 years, 12 months ago

Women who depend on the Courts and law enforcement to solve their domestic relationship issues are likely to be disappointed. The Courts are there to punish past behaviour and not really great at preventing future behaviour.

This woman would not cooperate with prosecuters and kept taking him back. The courts only let him out if they can't get a conviction or after he was convicted and punished. Had she asked for a no contact order she would have gotten it. If she ever got a NCO she continued to have contact.

It is unfortunate that those women who do kick their abusers out and are not abused again don't make the papers, no further abuse is non-news. These "cycle of abuse" stories may mislead women into thinking that it is solely the Courts and the system responsibility to solve their problem. The reality is that while the Courts can help (if you cooperate and cease all contact) it is the women themselves that have the best chance of ending their abuse.

reginafliangie 8 years, 12 months ago

"victim uncoopertive and unable to locate", this is the problem with most domestic cases, the woman won't testifiy. Had she done so, maybe she would be alive today. Because at that time, they had to have that to go to trial. Now the new law is better, but you (as the victim) needs to cooperate. Even crazyks posted on the other thread that she tried to get the charges dropped because of threats from her husband. Duh! Thats exactly what they want. At least if you can get them in court and convicted or even not convicted, it's still on record as previous problems and maybe the next time (god forbid) they can get a harsher sentence from the history. enforcer, after 5 years, re-do the order, for as long as needed.

A piece of advise for women who do have protection orders, call if he breaks them. And don't let him back in your home, car, work, etc. And then when it turns bad, call the cops, if you invite them in, you have only yourself to blame, remember why you got the order in the first place.

Confrontation 8 years, 12 months ago

"Had she asked for a no contact order she would have gotten it."

This order would do very little to protect any abused woman, and this woman knew it. Abused women know to take these men's threats seriously. They know that their children and others are at risk of being killed if they make these idiots mad. Women don't love to be kicked and punched. With a useless criminal system, these women know that they will be killed or constantly attacked by these men if they leave. There needs to be a program to help these women change their names and leave the state. There also needs to be a very harsh sentence for first time offenders.

badger 8 years, 12 months ago

One of the reasons a lot of women stay is because of how the cycle of abuse works. An abuser generally doesn't just punch his date in the mouth on their first date. He (or she, because domestic abuse happens across all relationship dynamics - I'm just using 'he' and 'she' because it's the most common) either finds a victim whose self-esteem is pre-shattered (like someone who had an abusive childhood or former relationships), or he breaks down his victim's self-esteem.

He cuts his victim off from family and friends, effectively isolating her from all forms of support that don't facilitate the relationship. He belittles and diminishes her until she feels pretty much worthless, and then will shower her with kindness, gifts, or courtship so that she feels 'lucky' to have someone like him, because she's so very worthless and doesn't deserve a partner who brings her flowers or tells her she's special. Her sense of self-worth gets tied up into, "I stay with him because it's what I deserve, and I'll never get anyone better because of what a waste of humanity I am."

When she's at that point, that's usually when the physical abuse starts.

A lot of women say, "If a man ever hit me, I'd knock his block off and be out of there so fast it'd make his head spin." They say that without understanding that the hitting is only a manifestation of the abuse, that a chronic abuser generally won't hit a victim until she's in the mental state to accept it as what she deserves in the relationship.

I've done a little work and had a little experience with that dynamic, and anecdotal evidence suggests that most of the people in abusive relationships at one point believed that they'd never stand for being hit, pushed around, or treated badly, but the emotional component of the abuse tricked them into accepting it.

reginafliangie 8 years, 12 months ago

You know I feel for people who are abused. But all you who say "you can't say you would leave or fight back without experiencing the abuse", need to know, that I DO KNOW, I know I think better and more highly of myself to let ANYONE abuse me mentally or physically. I don't care if he was the richest man in the world and the father of my children and gave me everything I ever wanted, etc, etc, etc. It would NOT happen. And I know this for a fact. So please quit with the speech. Thanks.

Confrontation 8 years, 12 months ago

Yes, reginafliangie, we should assume that you are soooo much better and stronger than all of these women! However, I doubt anyone could think more highly of you than yourself.

reginafliangie 8 years, 12 months ago

Isn't that how all women should think? Nobody deserves to be abused. If you don't think highly of yourself than nobody else will and maybe thats why the other person thinks they can abuse you. There is nothing wrong with thinking highly of yourself. Wanna live your life in hell? Go right ahead.

wonderwoman 8 years, 12 months ago

This song is dedicated to the abused women that took it till it hurt.

Crazy, I'm crazy for feeling so lonely I'm crazy, crazy for feeling so blue I knew you'd love me as long as you wanted And then someday you'd leave me for somebody new

Worry, why do I let myself worry? Wond'ring what in the world did I do? Crazy for thinking that my love could hold you I'm crazy for trying and crazy for crying

And I'm crazy for loving you Crazy for thinking that my love could hold you I'm crazy for trying and crazy for crying And I'm crazy for loving you.

badger 8 years, 12 months ago

regina, it's not a 'speech'. For myself, I'm saying that a lot of women (not you specifically, just a lot of women) seem to think that an abusive relationship is just, "Oh, la la la, here we are having a perfectly normal relationship and all of a sudden BAM punch to the face!" and some women are weak so they stay and other women are strong so they fight back or leave.

It's not like that. A lot of very self-reliant and self-confident women are incredibly surprised to find themselves in abusive relationships because they didn't see that over two years their spouse was slowly cutting them off from their family, because when the family said, "We don't really like him," the spouse said, "I can't believe they are trying to run your life," and the woman said, "Yeah, if they can't accept that I love you then to hell with them!" They didn't see that their spouse had started off saying, "You're so beautiful," which became "You're so pretty you don't need to wear makeup," which became "I think you're so much prettier without makeup," which became "You don't look good with makeup on," which became "I told you I don't like you wearing makeup," and finally, "You look cheap like that. Are you sleeping around on me, you slut?"

It's not like you're out with someone or dating someone and he just hauls off and punches you. It's a cycle of power and control, and strong self-sufficient women can be pulled into it over the course of months or years. They're actually more susceptible, I think, because they're so certain that it won't happen to them that they miss a lot of the warning signs.

Women don't stay with an abuser because he's rich or because he's the father of their kids. They stay with an abuser because something has been broken inside them that makes them think that the relationship with him is what they deserve, the best they can do. It's not about 'giving you everything you ever wanted'. It's about making you think that you are nothing without him so you can't see any more that you'd be better off alone.

Without a doubt, every abused woman or man I've ever known has said, "I thought it couldn't happen to me because I'm not a victim." If you 'know for a fact' because you've been in an abusive relationship and walked out, that's one thing. But if you're just speculating about a hypothetical situation you've never experienced and you 'know for a fact' because you're just sure it couldn't happen to you (because you're not a victim), then it's the height of ignorance and arrogance to dismiss voices of experience because you're so very certain of how you'd react to a hypothetical situation, the dynamic of which you can't fully understand until you've been inside it or at least very very close to it.

reginafliangie 8 years, 12 months ago

OH I have been very very close to it. But not myself a victim. And even being that close to it and talking to the victim, I still can't understand why they stay. It makes no sense. I offered everthing I could for her. Money, clothes, car, place to stay, etc. But she wouldn't leave him. Why? She had a way out. She had everything she could need that I had to give her. No kids involved. She could of been free. Now tell me why she wanted to stay?? Threats? Worried that I or her family might get hurt by him? I didn't care, bring it on, I got video cameras to catch and watch his moves. I will have the evidence I need to proved what he is doing to me or my family. Audio recorders for the phones. He's not going to get away with anything.

wyandotwoman 8 years, 12 months ago

Your lack of respect speaks of pampered ignorance, reginafliangie. In fact, one of the myths about domestic abuse is potential victims have "low self esteem" or are "crazy", the fact is domestic violence can happen to anyone and is all about the selection, manipulation, and escalating perpetration of one human being on another. Potential victims are often selected and groomed because they are compassionate human beings, and not masochists or otherwise "defective." There are individuals in this society who view people as possessions and kindness as weakness, a battered human being is anything but a weak human being. A battered human being is a terrorized individual who does what they must to survive. An effective district attorney and educated police department can assist a victim in coming to terms with the truth.

I hope it never happens to you, Regina but if it does, hopefully you won't describe yourself the way you have described us. Because after all, that is exactly the way a domestic violence perpetrator wants you to view yourself.

reginafliangie 8 years, 12 months ago

Wow, you do assume. I never called anybody who is abused a name or made any assumptions about them. I was asking somebody to explain to me. How I could be very good friends with an actual victim and still didn't understand the reasoning behind staying with the person who was inflicting pain. Do you have an answer for me or is your answer to try to belittle me because you can't answer the question. Just because I was brought up in a good family and have a happy healthy family life, I am lacking respect for the abused?? You sound a little jealous. I never showed any lack of respect. I have even stated several times that my heart goes out to all abuse victims. Did I ever say you were weak, masochists, defective, crazy? Nope, never. Quit trying to make problems. I am asking legitimate questions to people who have dealt with it.

passionatelibra 8 years, 12 months ago

I tried using video cameras, audio recorders, pictures and even at one point I had a really big guy sleeping on my couch... it didn't stop him. It took him a while but he still caused havoc and never was prosecuted for it.

I think it's incomprehensible for most people to make sense of it because it's like Alice in Wonderland... up is down, in is out and there are no rules. It's completely deranged and most times, once caught in the trap, it's dang near impossible to get away. None of it makes sense.

badger 8 years, 12 months ago

The answer to how your friend could refuse your offers of help, clothes, shelter, money, and food is that you weren't offering her what she really needed because you couldn't.

An abuser destroys your sense of who you are, of your own place in the world. He creates in you the belief that even though he makes you feel worthless, you'd be even more worthless without him.

What you couldn't give your friend was the understanding that she had worth as an individual, that she had merit and value on her own. You couldn't make her understand that, no matter how you sheltered, fed, or clothed her.

When I said it's something broken inside you, that's exactly what I meant. Abuse victims will often say, "I deserve this because I'm so worthless. I'm lucky he puts up with me, because even though he treats me badly when he's been drinking/he's had a bad day/I screw up, he's still too good for me." That's broken. It's not right, it's not true.

Living in abuse is looking at your world through a broken window. Things almost look right, but there's still some places where things don't line up, and when you see how the abusive relationship reflects you back at yourself, all you can see is that you are horribly flawed.

An abusive relationship only ever ends one of two ways: when the abused finds some sense of self that allows her to see that there are relationships in the world that are worse than the threat of being alone forever, or when the abused or abuser dies. No amount of dragging an abused person out of an abusive relationship will prevent her from going right back to it, or starting another one.

(again, I use the male/female dynamic because it's most commonly known, and would like to remind people that female/male, male/male, and female/female domestic abuse are also problems)

reginafliangie 8 years, 12 months ago

Well, I appreciate all your answers, and it does help me understand better. I thank all of you who helped. I also appreciate the knowledge without the name calling. It does make better sense. I just wish she could of explained that too me. I guess it doesn't matter how much help and how much you tell the person she is better than that. Does worrying that you won't find another person to love play into that without being told that??

reginafliangie 8 years, 12 months ago

Does the abuser act like they really like you too? I mean not hit on kind of like but, that they really seemed to be a great person to me, but acted like a jerk to her? Because I was around when some of the abuse was going on, and frankly she did her share...that in no way gives the green light to abuse, but she did fight back, neither one of them seemed to have a problem fighting in front of me. And we all got along when the fights were over. I didn't really take sides, but I would break up the fights.

1lawrencemom 8 years, 12 months ago

I just have to chime in and say to regina that "yes" the fear of never finding another person to love DOES play into it in it's own way. Just as badger said....

"An abusive relationship only ever ends one of two ways: when the abused finds some sense of self that allows her to see that there are relationships in the world that are worse than the threat of being alone forever, or when the abused or abuser dies."

The threat of being alone forever is a legitimate threat in all of our minds...no one want to be alone. But until a person realizes that it is not the WORST threat, and that the threat of death by the hands of someone who "loves" them is much worse, the victim will not change her actions.

1lawrencemom 8 years, 12 months ago

YES! Absolultey....to the general public or even acquaintences many abusers look/seem like GREAT people...smart, good looking, good job......and maybe even great friends to others. But the nature of YOUR relationship with him and his girlfriend/wifes relationship are different, and the abuser will treat them differently.

reginafliangie 8 years, 12 months ago

Because they both were at fault...they both did stuff to each other. I thought that by what you are saying is that the abuser hides that from others.

passionatelibra 8 years, 12 months ago

There is no cookie cutter DV situation or profile. I've heard of cases where the abuser smacked their victim in the middle of a busy parking lot or even a store.

Steve Jacob 8 years, 12 months ago

An just think, to protect more women, the supreme court stepped in to rule 911 calls can be used in court, even is the women (mostly the women) no longer wants to file charges OR dies.

Linda Endicott 8 years, 12 months ago

Yes, regina, the first time I had him arrested, he told me to get the charges dropped, and I tried to. Because he threatened to beat me to a bloody pulp if I didn't. That first call to the police was my first step in getting out, though I didn't realize it at the time. But by that time, the abuse was bad enough that I had no doubt at all in my mind that he would follow through with those threats if I didn't try to get the charges dropped.

Have you ever been afraid, so horribly afraid that you wanted to curl up in a ball in the closet and just whimper? Afraid to do anything, and yet also afraid to do nothing? I have. So have many, many women who have lived through abuse.

Though whimpering in front of my abuser was not acceptable, either. He would rant and rave until I was in tears, and then he would tell me to stop crying and acting like a f###ing baby. It wasn't a request. It was an order, and if I didn't swallow the tears and pretend to be okay, I had even more hell to pay.

Women (and men) who have been abused are the most wonderful actors in the world. Because they're always having to pretend to the rest of the world that everything is okay.

You don't understand abuse and why women stay because you have never been the victim. Being on the outside and looking in is not the same at all. You will never totally understand it unless you have lived through it yourself.

Abuse is all about power and CONTROL. You do not have a life of your own when you are in an abusive relationship. He controls every aspect of your life. He owns you. You are his property, and you'd better tow the line or else.

Abusers always act like Mr. Wonderful in front of everyone else. They only abuse at home. Do you think he'd be able to keep a job, friends, if he acted that way with everyone? And that is why I believe that abusers CHOOSE to abuse. Because they can and do pick and choose who they will behave that way with.

(continued)

Linda Endicott 8 years, 12 months ago

That fear of being alone after the breakup of a relationship, even an abusive one, is huge. Human beings just naturally want to be loved. And by the time an abuser gets done with you, you feel like trash, lower than dirt, unworthy of anyone else, and believe that no one will ever love you again.

My abuse was bad enough that even now, years after I got out, I haven't even tried to find another relationship. I don't date. I see friends, and have both male and female friends, but I'm very careful of what I say or do with my male friends. I don't want them to get the wrong idea, because I'm still not ready for a relationship. I'm still afraid that I may not see the early signs of abuse again. I'm too afraid to risk it. And so I remain alone. This isn't right, either, but it's just the way it is.

As my mother used to say, back in the old days of wood stoves: if a cat ever jumps on the stove when it's hot, he'll never do it again. But then, he'll also never jump on it again when it's cold, either. He won't take the risk.

Right now, neither will I. I'm still not sure enough of my ability to handle it and get out if necessary. Although I have found that being alone is not the terrible thing I feared. It's peaceful and calm.

mermily 8 years, 11 months ago

i want to just briefly respond to one of the very first comments, authored by Sigmund, and then discuss the general flow of the comments.

"the women themselves that have the best chance of ending their abuse". no, the abuser (traditionally a man) has the best chance of ending the abuse by never having started. or a society that has a no tolerance view of abuse have the best chance of ending the abuse. the focus in these problem solving discussions should not be placed on the abused.

with that in mind, i'd like to not that our conversations have primarily been about the woman- first blaming them and then more kindly trying to understand them. although i think this is a good forum to chat about why woman stay in abusive relationships to dispell myths, i am always struck by how the subject of the abuser seems to fade from these conversations and the topic shifts to the abused.

i'm most interested in seeing a society and system that don't tolerate it. i'm interested in discussing how to make the abuse stop, not so much how to end it once it starts.

and as one last comment, the decedant in the article DID have a no contact order of some sort. that is why belone was charged not only with 2nd degree murder but with violating a court order not to go near begay. ironically, a significant amount of victims met their demise while under the protection of a TRO or the likes. in fact, for those that understand the abuser's mentality, this loss of control over the abused's life, frequently incites wrath.

Linda Endicott 8 years, 11 months ago

True, mermily. We shouldn't be so damned concerned with why women who are abused stay. We should be much more concerned with why the abusers ever start the abuse to begin with. And we should seriously wonder why we as a society are willing to tolerate abuse at all.

Because we do. Every time an abuser gets probation, we as a society are saying that abuse isn't important, and we are willing to tolerate it.

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