There was an all-too-common story in the news the other day, with a twist:
After months of trying to use the legal system to protect herself from her former fiancé, 29-year-old Amanda Ross was found shot to death early Friday outside her home in downtown Lexington.
Hours later, the man she feared, former state representative and one-time gubernatorial candidate Steve Nunn, was taken into police custody at the edge of the Hart County cemetery where his parents are buried.
The twist, in this case, was that Nunn, the son of a former Governor, was not only a former state rep and ran for Governor of Kentucky, but that he lost his job as deputy secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, which oversees the state's domestic violence programs when Ross filed for the domestic violence restraining order in February of 2009. (Nunn was a Republican, but I don't want to pile on that point - it's not like Republican men have a monopoly on domestic violence against women.)
The comments to the news stories above contain much of the sickening, misogynistic bullshit you would expect after such events. But this from a story in today's Kentucky Herald-Leader really needs highlighting:
Attorney Astrida Lemkins, who said she is a friend of Nunn's and was co-counsel for Nunn during a court hearing about the domestic violence order, said the issuance of the order "caused all the problems."
"It caused Steve Nunn to lose his job, reputation and drove him to slit his wrists," she said.
"If there does turn out to be a relationship between the death of Amanda Ross and Steve Nunn, it is not because the DVO failed, but rather because the DVO was issued," said Lemkins.
Lemkins said Ross should have also been held accountable for her role in the domestic violence incident.
"Things are not black and white," she said. "There's a lot of gray in there."
Eaton said the domestic violence case was deeply embarrassing to Nunn. "You could tell he was real concerned about his case and what people were thinking about him," he said.
You get that? Attorney Lemkins is arguing that Amanda Ross is to blame for her death because the restraining order was issued. There are people out there who really believe this crap: Someone accused of domestic violence is right to kill the person who got a restraining order against him.
To their credit, the paper quotes another attorney who points out, correctly, that at the hearing for the restraining order which Ross initiated, a judge had ruled in favor of Ross after hearing testimony from Nunn in his defense that Ross had hit him. Clearly, the judge didn't believe him.
Lemkins, Nunn's defender, is right about one thing: It is dangerous to be a woman who gets the legal system involved in trying to stop domestic violence. The time of maximum danger is when the woman tries to leave the situation. If he's out of control enough to hit you, he's probably out of control enough to kill you. If you get away, get away fully. It sucks, but the police cannot protect you. Even going armed yourself won't save you from an ambush.
On another issue, it's not clear whether Nunn had a permit for the .38 he killed Ross with. If he did, it's another failure of Kentucky law. Anyone who is subject to a domestic violence order should be required to turn in their guns, and placed on a list at gun shops which prevents him from buying another (and the shops held liable if they sell him one anyway).
As a ironic side note, publius at Obsidian Wings pointed out yesterday that domestic violence is treated as a pre-existing condition by insurers in 9 states (although Kentucky is not one of them - that would have been too much) and 8 of the 16 largest insurance companies use domestic violence as a factor in setting premiums. A woman who files for a restraining order and then seeks medical insurance might not be covered in case her abuser hurts her down the road. Of course, the insurance companies can also bank on the possibility that the abuser will just murder her, which saves them money, too.