Wednesday, September 07, 2016

The Archers, Steven Avery, OJ Simpson and the DV death of my Aunt - some thoughts

Hi all, it's been a while. Thank you, if you're still around. If you've followed my blog for a while now you will know about the death of my aunt, and something about her experiences of domestic violence. Well, my priorities have changed re: writing and online activist participation, but this does seem like the place to write about "serious stuff" -- and it doesn't get much more serious than the trial of her accused murderer. If you don't know (see previous post) it has been 7 years that we have waited for this, as the accused used every available tool to prolong this process with no apparent care to the ways in which he was re-victimizing us (unsurprising really). So we've all had a lot of time at this point to sit with what happened, to process a lot of our feelings, to learn about domestic violence and the court system.

In the last year or so I've gotten into law/crime based podcasts such as Serial (season 1), Undisclosed, Truth and Justice, and Real Crime Profile. I think it has really helped me prepare for what's about to happen, and to understand what these lawyers are doing (because, no matter what prosecutors tell you, they are NOT trying to get justice for YOU and it's not the TRUTH they're trying to get to -- they're answerable to THE STATE and they're trying to PROVE AN ARGUMENT, it's a scored debate more than anything else.... anyway). Below you will find some stuff I've been thinking about that I thought was worth sharing. At the moment, my step-mother and I are sitting outside the courtroom where jury selection is happening in our trial and I have my laptop, hoping I would feel inspired to write something new...but I don't. So enjoy this instead....

Trigger/Content Warning: some graphic description of domestic violence/death.

Lately I've been listening to the Real Crime Profile (RCP) episodes about the Steven Avery case and then the OJ Simpson trial. Along with this there’s been a story line on The Archers for a while wherein one of the characters (Helen) has been in an abusive relationship (yes, it's fictional, but it's also accurate as hell from everything I know/have read).  And as I listen to these, each with their own documentation of the behavior of abusive men, of course I am thinking about Aunt Robin.  Though separated by time and location and race and nationality - the patterns are all so similar, when not outright the same.  And so I know, this must have been what she was going through. For years. And while I don't know what I would have done, I wish I had known, because then there would have been opportunities for intervention I never got. For all the good that might have done. An opportunity doesn't guarantee shit.

I’m preoccupied thinking about what is going to happen with/during the trial.  I’m preoccupied thinking about what got us here.  I’m preoccupied thinking about the way my Aunt died.  When RCP talked about the crime scenes (particularly the OJ crime scene and the way that Nicole Brown Simpson was murdered with such violence and brutality) I found myself nodding along (when I didn’t feel frozen, dissociated and sick). Yeah, I know what those crime scenes look like after the fact. I know the amount of blood a human body can pour out -- even a tiny one.  And as they described how she was stabbed through her neck so powerfully it went through her whole body, that he must have lifted her up with the knife, so that she was almost decapitated -- and yet she didn’t die, but bled out…  I flash back to what we were told about Aunt Robin.  It was her arm, not her head.  But same circumstance, same sheer brutality, same ultimate cause of death. I cried listening.

...Knives.  Why does it always seem to be knives?  

The Archers?  Knife.  

Avery?  Knife and gun.  

OJ?  Knife and fists.  

Robin?  Knife.  

Maybe because it’s more intimate. And the violence that was already happening was so intimate.  

Maybe because we’ve all got them in our houses -- sheer availability.  

The little kid (Henry) on The Archers asked why we can’t just lock up all the knives in the world.  Kid, sometimes I wonder too.

And as I reflect on all this I guess I keep hoping that we can grow something good out of this shit that’s happened/is happening in our lives. All of us, even his family -- even him (as unlikely as I think that is given his behavior thus far).  I could swear Robin has been around lately, as I’m immersed in these stories and feeling my way through them and figuring things out.  It's so “funny” that they’re all coming at me at once, but with time to process them.  Even Helen's trial for attempted murder of her abuser (The Archers) is happening the exact same week as ours. I hope it's enough to prepare me, even better if it's preparing me for something beyond my own ability to cope with this experience.

“Victims families never have closure, they just learn to keep going” -- paraphrase of what Laura Richards on RCP said when talking about the Browns (IIRC) on one of the OJ trial episodes.  Yeah, it seems like that’s probably true.  I hope we can find something like closure though.  At least find a way to close this chapter. Surely the trial being over will be better than being in limbo?  Cuz the other thing I’ve learned from all these sources is that usually abusers are too narcissistic and/or delusional to ever have accountability.  Which is the best reason I’ve got for prisons to still exist (which is hard to say for this prison abolitionist). But I could be horribly wrong, too. The end of the trial will mean the end of hoping for the best outcome possible (whatever that is). It will mean we know how this ends, for better or worse.