On Tuesday, State Rep. Mark Warden (R-U Surprised?) reminded the country that, yes, the Republican War on Women is very really and has dire consequences when left unchecked.
During a committee meeting to discuss whether to advance a bill to the floor that would reduce the penalty for “simple assault”, Warden said the following about how the bill is applicable to domestic violence:
“Some people could make the argument that a lot of people like being in abusive relationships. It’s a love-hate relationship. It’s very, very common for people to stick around with somebody they love who also abuses him or her. Right? We all know that it’s not uncommon. So, is the solution to those kind of dysfunctional relationships going to be more government, another law? I’d tend to say no. People are always free to leave.”
The new GOP definition of domestic abuse would get you a slap on the wrist. Since the vast majority of victims in domestic abuse cases are women, it’s not terribly surprising to hear a Republican default to the old right wing stand-by of “blame the victim.” Here’s the video:
When contacted about the remarks, the Concord Monitor reports that Warden declined to comment, saying only, “I’m sure it was taken out of context, but that’s all I’m going to say about it.”
Considering the video covers Warden’s entire thought process about abusive relationships, it’s not clear what context would have made such appalling ignorance acceptable. The new GOP definition of domestic abuse would get you a slap on the wrist and since the vast majority of victims in domestic cases are women, it’s not terribly surprising to hear a Republican default to the old right wing stand-by of “blame the victim.”
The bill in question is one introduced by fellow Republican Rep. Frank Sapareto that would reduce the charge of “Simple Assault” from a misdemeanor to a violation any time a spouse or significant other engages in “unprivileged physical contact” that “does not result in injury or harm.” “Unprivileged” is legalese for actions that fall outside the boundaries of a relationship. Hugging your child is “privileged” whereas hugging a stranger is “unprivileged.” In the context of a domestic relationship, giving your wife a kiss on the cheek is “privileged” whereas slapping her across the face because dinner was late is “unprivileged.” “Injury or harm” refers to visible, lasting damage like welts, bruises, cuts and the like.
What the original law does is cover the “less” violent kinds of abuse. In other words, the kind that doesn’t leave marks. Even this is problematic since serial abusers can learn, very quickly, where to hit and how hard in order to cause pain but not leave any identifiable marks. Yet, Sapareto and Warden want to weaken the law already in place to protect victims by making such attacks a “violation.” What is New Hampshire’s definition of a violation?
VIOLATION – a violation is an offense which is not “criminal” in nature. In other words, while it may involve conduct which is illegal and may be charged, it is not classified as a “crime” and, for that reason, a person who is charged with a violation cannot go to jail if convicted.
A misdemeanor can get you sent to jail. A violation gets you a stern lecture.
The reality is that women (and, less often, men) in an abusive relationship are trapped. The method of entrapment can be financial abuse (Where can I go? I don’t have any money of my own) Emotional abuse (I can’t leave. No one will ever love me. I’m dirt without him) Physical abuse (If I try to leave, he’ll hurt me) Fear (He’ll find me if I leave) or any combination of factors. The abused can’t just leave and they certainly don’t “like being in abusive relationship.” Those are the words of a man who truly believes that domestic abuse is a victimless crime; that the woman (men can never be abused by a woman in GOP world, you see) wants or deserves to be beaten. We find the same attitude prevalent among Republicans in regards to rape. The deep-seated animosity towards, and lack of respect for women, on display is disturbing.
The upshot is that it is on display instead of being hidden. It may repulse us but it won’t slip by us anymore. Look for the awkward nonapology apology or just a simple declaration by Warden that he’s the victim of a liberal witch hunt.