And then there’s the advice, often from other women, to try harder. “Honey, everybody’s got to give a little. Try a little harder to get along.”
Another pervasive opinion is that somehow the woman “deserved” what she got, that somehow her behavior justified the violence against her.
For years women, and to be fair, sometimes men, have struggled with finding fault and forgiveness when they find themselves in a relationship that is clearly abusive.
After all, we are told, it is clearly God’s will that we forgive.
That is the situation we find Dallas dealing with today. Should we forgive Mike Miles for abusing his position of power when he had trustee Bernadette Nutall picked up and manhandled out of Billy E. Dade Middle School last week?
The Dallas Morning News staff, including Jim Mitchell and James Ragland ,thinks so. Gerald Britt of CitySquare, a social justice organization supported by Dallas city leaders, thinks so. They think Ms. Nutall should try a little harder to get along.
And yet, we have just been bombarded with a campaign, led by Mayor Rawlings, called “Dallas Men Against Abuse.” It says that 21,908 men have taken this pledge:
• A man never hits a woman.
• A man speaks out against domestic abuse.
• A man teaches his daughter how men should treat her and that she should never allow herself to be abused. Not once.
• A man teaches his sons to respect women.
Where are these 21,908 men now?
Every city leader, businessperson, faith leader, and DISD trustee who does not speak out in support of Ms. Nutall is, by their silence, acknowledging their tacit agreement with the right of the powerful to exercise their will in any way they damn well please.
I’ll bet none of these folks have ever cowered in a corner, while they were yelled at and threatened, perhaps even physically abused, knowing they had no option except to submit. It’s a feeling you can only know by living it.
Abused women always try to hide their bruises from the neighbors. James Ragland bemoans the fact that “sadly, the DISD’s image is taking another hit.”
More make-up on that black eye, maybe?
Men and women of character don’t hide their dirty laundry, they air it out and clean it. And if it won’t come clean, they toss it out.
Bernadette Nutall had no options that day. She was a petite woman, with no protection, in a dark wet parking lot, and three men had just thrown her out of a building she, as an elected trustee, had every right to be in. What threat did Trustee Nutall pose to Superintendent Miles? She was not armed, she was not threatening anyone, she was not breaking or throwing things. How can these 21,908 men stand by and justify the violent action taken against her? Would a man, as described in the pledge, have done that?
This situation that Dallas finds itself in is no one’s fault but Superintendent Mike Miles’. Attributing any blame to Bernadette Nutall is a shameful acknowledgement to the culture that faults women raped while wearing low cut blouses.
Dallas Men Against Abuse asks: “And what happened to a man’s personal accountability for his behavior?” Join us as we expose the problem and search for answers.”
Amnesty International states that “Perpetrators of violence against women are rarely held accountable for their acts. Violence against women is so deeply embedded in society that it often fails to garner public censure and outrage.”
Indeed, where is the outrage, Dallas?
In the light of day and with the support of those who feel they were thrown out of that building along with her, we hope Ms. Nutall sees that she does have options to fight back.
Mike Miles, on the other hand, needs to own his behavior that day. He needs to own it and he needs to apologize. And then he needs to leave.
Miles’ departure will by no means heal this city. There’s plenty more folks that need to step up and apologize too.
Bullies only exist where they are tolerated.
Dallas, we’re waiting.