Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Justice Denied

Dear Friends,

What follows has been weighing on my heart. I have a bit of a personal quandary that is testing my Quaker faith and my belief in pacifism. I would greatly appreciate your advice and feedback, should you be so led. Any good ideas are taken in good order and with gratitude. You don't have to be a Quaker or even have a belief in any God to state your opinion.

The long and short of it is this. Both of my sisters recently got involved with men who were physically and emotionally abusive. One sister had enough foresight on the worst night of all to document her wounds with a digital camera. These men are guilty of domestic abuse and battery. One got out on a plea bargain, but the other escaped scot free. I'm enraged that the penalty they paid in a court of law was so minimal.

My father has a background in law enforcement. One abusive man was a bartender by trade. Dad pulled some strings and had his bartender's license revoked. He has plans to retaliate against the other abuser in a way he will not disclose to me. He alluded to certain vague plans yet to be finalized. I've said that I simply didn't want to know.

How should one respond in a non-violent manner to this violent act? I understand now why feminists insist upon zero tolerance when sentencing of violent offenders produces only a slap on the wrist. One of the perpetrators deserves to be in jail, but had a weak case built against him. He didn't beat her up enough, sadly. He was at least forced to pay her alimony, but in another example of how unfair our criminal justice system can be, he got off easy. These payments paid out in full for only three or four months. When they re-calibrated my sister's income, he and his lawyer found he could pay far less, then the checks stopped altogether.

We've talked about these sorts of issues in feminist circles, particularly domestic abuse. My father is resorting to a kind of vigilante justice, using his connections to serve his purposes. I think his police background may shield him from prosecution. And in a way, there is something chivalric about his behavior, but I wonder if things might get out of control. In a way, my father is something of a hero to my sisters because he is willing to retaliate. They are bitter enough to want to cause suffering to their abusers.

I remain conflicted. Fight back or let it slide? My father adheres to a code of tough guy masculinity, one I have rarely incorporated into my own. Am I behaving cowardly to not respond, and not restoring the honor of both of my sisters? What is my role as a Friend?


Gail said...

Hi Kevin - I amdeeply moved by this post. I think it is important to let your sisters know you are there for them, no matter what, provide a safe haven for them to which they can escape. You can't change their situation or your fathers way of dealing - you can love them and provide them safety.
Love Gail
p.s. you are a really good brother

Comrade Kevin said...

Thank you, Gail.