Black Ribbon Reflections, part 2

It’s so difficult to start these–it’s a weighty subject that is no laughing matter, so my usual brands of snark and sarcasm stay firmly under lock and key. I’d had two cases on my mind that didn’t fit well into the first of this series: the case of a young mother killing herself and her three daughters, and a man dismembering his girlfriend’s special needs son. Horrific and tragic all at the same time, and it raises questions about the availability of mental health services or even the choices one makes concerning who comes into contact with their children. I want to feel complete outrage–and on the Jori Lirette case I certainly do–but I know there was more going on in those households than I could ever understand. I can only offer my own outside perspective. It is easier to feel pure outrage and little compassion in the Jori Lirette case because the situation seems like it was preventable–the mother had filed a restraining order against the boyfriend, but decided to “let it lapse.” I still believe in some cases that counseling can rehabilitate an abusive personality, but judging from this guy’s rationale to put Jori’s head in the front yard so upon seeing it the girlfriend “would feel stupid,” this is a level of sickness that can’t be treated. I’m sure somewhere in his warped mind he thought that death was kinder for a child with such severe challenges–and while still unforgivable I *might* have understood this had Jori been much younger. OK, that’s a lie…I can’t even begin to wrap my brain around this one. He BEHEADED that baby–disturbed or not, it was clearly on his mind for a long time to selfishly take this child’s life. And while I feel for the mother, she knew this man was a danger and left her child in his care anyway. Security and companionship are not good enough reasons for me to stay with someone you feared enough to petition the law to keep away from you. I hope she can find some peace somewhere. As for young Nadia Braxton. it’s always hard to figure out the level of despair and mental anguish one that would drive someone to such drastic action. One of her last reported actions before the tragedy was to call her pastor, who was not available to answer at that time. Knowing from personal experience how hard it is to remain in a positive space when you feel there is no one there to reach out to, I can imagine to some small degree the pain she was struggling with. I don’t know what she thought taking her children with her would accomplish, though…putting myself in her shoes, I would not want to hurt my own children. Part of the reason I’m still here now is because I don’t want the children in my life to have to ask themselves why I checked out. It doesn’t dull the personal pain, but I think it’s selfish of me to expect them to live with my actions. Not to mention that I can’t imagine those beautiful souls I love so much not being a part of this world. We will never know if any of this was Nadia’s thinking; I wish with all my heart she’d felt she had someone else to help her out of the darkness.

And as if these tragic stories weren’t enough, I come around this headline regarding Topeka’s “downgrading” the severity of domestic crimes. Most of the aggressors know exactly how to get around the law already–they certainly don’t need the government’s help. Anytime a woman can get beaten with a CROWBAR and have the attack classified as a misdemeanor is disturbing enough, but to have your local government effectively say that because of budget constraints said attack (and others like it) aren’t important enough to prosecute is just WRONG–or as my eighth grade math teacher Mr. Williams would say, “LOUD, LONG, COUNTRY AND WRONG!” (caps definitely needed for emphasis) Crazy may figure into some of them, but history has shown that some of these buggers are just plain mean. I guess it’s going to take some legislator’s mother, sister or daughter getting knocked around before these issues start to become important….

Maybe one day I’ll be more coherent and less disjointed in writing these. I’d much prefer, however, that the day comes when I don’t have to.


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