By Beth Morrison, HAVEN CEO
This article starts, “Just in time for Valentine’s Day.” Sounds lovely, until you read the rest of the content. To quickly recap, a Florida judge ordered a man who was arrested for domestic violence to buy his wife flowers, take her out to a nice dinner, followed by bowling. Mr. Bray, the defendant, shoved his wife against the sofa and grabbed her neck.
Judge Hurley is quoted as saying, “The court would not normally [make this ruling] if the court felt there was some violence but this is very, very minor and the court felt that that was a better resolution than the other alternatives.” Judge Hurley apparently is not a strong believer in batterer accountability or sending a strong message that domestic violence, in any form, is not tolerated in his community.
The law enforcement officers involved in making the arrest of Mr. Bray have to be furious over this sentence. They respond to a call for help (which according to the victim was the second time she called police), they find enough evidence to arrest the batterer, and then the Judge mocks the safety of the victim in this case.
Victims in this community must be reeling. First, let’s be reminded that domestic violence is already underreported to law enforcement. Victims have now been told by a judge to not bother calling for help, unless your violence is very, very bad – wait until you can prove great bodily harm. Early intervention and accountability are replaced by a nice dinner.
And making matters worse, Judge Hurley ordered the couple into marriage counseling. Any domestic violence expert will tell you that marriage counseling is the worst approach you can take. Domestic violence training for judicial personnel typically covers the danger involved in ordering marriage counseling.
Judge Hurley is not the only person needing to be held accountable as a result of this awful decision. What about the laughing matter that the media has taken in this case. This Huffington Post reporter can hardly contain her giggles, and NBC Miami reporter Daniel Arkin seemed to love this story. He chose to describe the violence as “a scuffle” and “a spat.” Do you think that’s what the victim thought when she called 911?
Let Judge Hurley know that domestic violence is not to be minimized and that maybe it is time that he works on becoming educated about the crime of domestic violence. According to the Broward County website, Judge Hurley can be reached at (954) 831-7615.
When you see media making light of this crime, speak up and let them know that domestic violence is no laughing matter. This is NOT the perfect Valentine’s Day story. When there is love and romance there is no domestic violence.