Saturday, October 8, 2011

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Domestic Violence Awareness MonthImage by heraldpost via FlickrDomestic violence can be defined as a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner. A NOW statistics that cites the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control indicates that women experience about 4.8 million intimate partner-related physical assaults and rapes every year. Less than 20 percent of battered women sought medical treatment following an injury.

The diplomatic service is, of course, not immune to such type of violence. Domestic violence can happen to anyone regardless of race, age, sexual orientation, religion, or gender.  It is an equal opportunity offense. 

In June 2010, I wrote about a DS Agent who was arrested after his wife reported an assault in Washington State.  That case seemed to have disappeared quietly, and the agent was never named publicly. 

In July 2010, an unnamed South American ambassador abandoned his wife in Israel after taking all their shared assets including reportedly 40 cats.

In January this year, in a very public case of alleged domestic abuse, an Indian diplomat was recalled from the UK for causing embarrassment to his government.

Last week, a U.S. diplomat assigned as political officer at the U.S. Embassy in Dakar, Senegal was indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice on domestic battery charges. In Virginia where this case is filed, “Assault and Battery Against a Family or Household Member” is a Class 1 misdemeanor. Criminal indicates that "a person can therefore be sentenced to 12 months in jail. He may be charged up to $2,500 in fines or both punishments may be imposed in any combination up to the maximum penalty for each." Read more here. We note that the DOJ presser states that if convicted, the diplomat faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.  We do not pretend to be a lawyer but suspect that the max penalty has to do with the unspecified "dangerous weapon" in the indictment.

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE (7233) or TTY 800-787-3224. See also the following resources below:

Domestic Violence in Virginia (PDF)

Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence

DCCoalition Against Domestic Violence

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