Regardless of the verdict, there should be public outrage.
Since news of State Senator Hiram Monserrate’s assault first hit the headlines, details of the incident have been exposed in newspapers nationwide, accompanied by video evidence and reports from witnesses.
Although not convicted of felony assault, any charge of domestic violence should be followed by public outrage, but in the case of Monserrate there has been silence instead.
The lack of expressed indignation from Monserrate’s fellow politicians and constituents is unacceptable because domestic violence affects the entire community. Ample statistics from the National Center against Domestic Violence show the frequency and widespread occurrence of domestic violence.
According to the Center, in 2006 there were more than 50,000 reported cases in New York State alone. Even more alarming, New York City police intervened in 234,988 domestic violence calls in 2008, an average of 600 incidents a day. Also, in 2008, 72,463 home visits were conducted by the police department’s domestic violence unit, a 93 percent increase since 2002.
The impact of violence against intimate partners occurs through direct exposure, but the community is also affected by costs for victim services and reduced capacity in the workplace. The Center for Disease Control estimated the cost of domestic violence at $8.3 billion in 2003. This includes costs for medical and mental healthcare, as well as the victim loss in productivity resulting from physical and psychological injuries.
Ultimately, the community is impacted when represented by a leader with questionable judgment and an inability to resolve conflicts peacefully. These character deficiencies displace trust for representatives to act diligently on behalf of the community they are representing. It also brings up questions about their effectiveness working in a forum where debates, disputes and conflicts occur on a regular basis.
There are those that will note Monserrate’s charge is merely a misdemeanor assault and not a felony, and others that will say we have already committed sufficient resources to domestic violence awareness and victim services. These people will say that a public response condemning the Senator’s assault is overkill.
However, the lack of outrage over Monserrate’s assault shows that while many gains have been made in raising awareness about domestic violence, the subject is still viewed as a private matter not warranting public attention, and this view is simply unacceptable.
Now, is the perfect time to express our indignation with domestic violence – President Barack Obama proclaimed October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, noting the “devastating impact” of this type of violence on individuals and the community.
So, I challenge you to consider the statistic that one in four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime.
Public condemnation of domestic violence is not only vital to protect and support victims but also acts as a tool for prevention. Domestic violence is a despicable and unacceptable crime, that shouldn’t be accompanied by silence.
Kristy Crabtree is a resident of Elmhurst, which is located within Hiram Monserrate’s Senate District.