Sat04192014

Opinion

Abusers are the virus…and victims need a cure

A preliminary report issued last week by The 110 Institute provided a framework for tackling the broad issues of domestic violence in Memphis and Shelby County. 
 
 Tony Nichelson

A preliminary report issued last week by The 110 Institute provided a framework for tackling the broad issues of domestic violence in Memphis and Shelby County. The report, entitled “The Price of Pain,” estimates the direct and indirect costs of domestic abuse, assaults, and in-house violence to be nearly $190 million dollars annually. These costs include the emergency medical treatment for victims, lost wages for days taken off due to black eyes and broken bones, and the costs of criminal investigations and prosecutions of the batterers by law enforcement.

These material costs don’t even come close to really understanding the pain, misery, intimidation and raw terror experienced by women and girls who are stalked and beaten by senseless, cowardly individuals who do it just because they can. When nurse and mother Taffi T. Crawford was killed on the Delta Medical parking lot last year, the incident shocked the community, but was simply one of 270,000 incidents every year in our city and county.

Crawford’s murder was high profile, as was the brutal beating death of teacher Ashley Scott, the strangulation of Jacklyn Miller, and the most extreme case of family violence committed by Jessie Dotson. Everyone reading this commentary knows someone who is – or has been – a victim of Domestic Abuse, whether physical, sexual, emotional or financial. All of these versions of abuse are equally debilitating to the victims. If there is no intervention by the courts or the medical community, then this pattern can last for years, even decades.

The new Motley Initiative Against Domestic Abuse (MIADA) combines outreach, education, and specific “treatments” for the victims of abuse. This is a public health issue, like drug abuse, or alcoholism, and must be addressed as such. Nearly all previous efforts have concentrated on law enforcement, after a woman has been hit. The “Post-OJ” reaction to family-based violence and abuse is to arrest someone if injuries are visible to police. This reaction is only the tip of a very jagged and large iceberg.

Issues related to domestic violence include ineffective protective orders, law enforcement, counseling for the victims and their children, the traumatic aftermath of having to flee in the middle of the night, the bitter disappointment of a failed relationship, as well as very little physical protection by any men (brothers, cousins…) because the woman has been isolated from all outside support of male family members and friends.  

Domestic violence is a $190 million public health issue that affects not only the victims and survivors, but all taxpayers who must pay for non-reimbursed medical costs, legal proceedings, and municipal efforts to rehabilitate women and families. The situation can be realistically compared to a sick patient: the abusers are the virus, and the victims need a cure. This is precisely what Dr. Todd Motley and his wife Dr. Ann-Marie Motley have taken on as a personal and a professional challenge. Their female patients, as in most medical organizations, suffer the same rates of abuse as the general population. The mental and physical pain experienced daily by abuse victims is real, and there is also a cure for their immediate condition. Medical professionals know that the source of a virus must be stopped, the patient must be stabilized, and treatment must begin as soon as possible.

The patient needs rest, nutrition and a safe environment to let the medicine take effect. The patient needs consistency during treatment, and sometimes requires a brief quarantine to be sure the bacteria or virus is completely out of the patient’s system.

The Motley Initiative Against Domestic Abuse (MIADA) serves as a first point of contact for victims who may never reach out for help, because they don’t know who to ask, or where to go. The newly established “Purple Appointment” allows women to schedule a medical appointment with a physician, receive much-needed information from the YWCA, and join a sisterhood of survivors who will eventually overcome such a brutal and unnecessary way of life.

Teach the boys not to hit girls, and teach young girls to never accept abuse as a substitute for affection.

(Anthony Nichelson is Public Affairs director for the Citadel Radio Group and founder of the 110 Institute.)

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