On the EDge: Time for the president, Hatch to stop making excuses for abusers

Photo by g-stockstudio iStock / Getty Images Plus; St. George News

OPINION – Cultural change can move at glacial speed.

Social standards do not evolve easily and there’s always this misplaced nonsense about life in the good old days.

But, these are somebody’s good old days and they don’t seem any better than ours.

We find that particularly distressing when it comes to the plight of women.

The current domestic violence scandals in Washington, D.C., revolving around former White House staff secretary Rob Porter and former speechwriter David Sorensen are really nothing new. Men have been knocking women around since the species crawled out of the mud and learned to walk upright.

There is a reprehensible aspect, of course, to the latest round of disclosures, reluctant drippings of information about a couple of White House aides who have been accused of domestic violence and abuse. We even got a close-up photo of a woman who says her husband hit her and abused her emotionally and verbally.

There is the sense of cover-up as it appears that White House Chief of Staff John Kelly has tried to keep the whole thing under wraps. And, of course, there has been deflection and defense in behalf of these guys, ranging from words from the president to solace from Sen. Orrin Hatch for Porter, who once served as his chief of staff.

The president said he was saddened by the claims, praised and wished his former aide the best of luck in life and career, then stole a page from his own playbook by reminding us, as he did when campaigning for Alabama politician Roy Moore, who was accused of improper behavior with underage girls, that Porter claims innocence in the matter, “and I think you have to remember that.”

Hatch was even more effusive.

He described Porter as being a “decent,” “kind and considerable,” “honest, principled” man. He also said that the claims of violent behavior and abuse by two of the man’s ex-wives were “a vile attack (by) politically motivated, morally bankrupt character assassins that would attempt to sully a man’s good name.”

In the realm of domestic abuse, this is the heart of the problem.

When a woman finally has the courage to step forward, she suddenly comes under suspicion.

It must have been her fault, right?

She must not have been a good wife, right?

She’s lying, right?

She’s only looking to tear down a “good man,” right?

Good men don’t punch their wives or girlfriends.

They don’t kick them.

They don’t abuse them verbally or emotionally.

One of the women involved in this episode posted pictures of her blackened eye several years ago. She was not silent. It only became a “thing” when her ex-husband came to a position of power and influence in the White House and his ability to acquire a security clearance as a result of the accusations was jeopardized.

The fact that another of the man’s ex-wives came forward with similar claims lends a lot more credibility to the accusations.

But, as we have seen, not only in this instance but most others, they are called liars.

We’ve seen a lot of courageous women come forward recently in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein investigations.

We have also seen a certain level of weariness set in among some, who are becoming critical of the attention garnered by the #MeToo movement.

After all, it is argued, why bring up something that happened 10 or 20 years ago?

The reason is clear.

They bring it up because they were violated.

They bring it up because they have seen their sisters step forward and feel a certain support and comfort.

They bring it up because the wounds have healed enough to actually utter the words in public: “I am a victim.”

This is a particularly serious problem in Utah where, putting aside the political helter-skelter, one in three women will experience domestic violence during their lifetime, according to the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition. The group reports that more than 40 percent of all Utah homicides since 2000 have been related to domestic violence.

It’s a problem not handled well and one severely under-reported.

As we have seen, the example from the top down is not a good one.

Why come forward if you will be reviled, ridiculed or rejected?

So, many suffer in silence, which is why we can look at domestic violence statistics with a skeptical eye.

How many women are actually strong enough to pick up the phone and dial 911 after being punched out by their husband or boyfriend? How many are actually courageous enough to come forward and report sexual abuse? How many have the strength to overcome the steady cycle of abuse which, researchers have found, only escalates?

In the case of the White House aide who also worked for Hatch, the women say they went to their Mormon bishop for help, but received none.

Why?

The same result could come from other religious leaders who simply are not trained enough to handle such life-threatening events.

Family is often unable to help because domestic violence seems to be something handed down from one generation to another.

Perpetrators see their fathers attack their mothers. It becomes part of their world, something they often repeat as they enter relationships.

Women, who witness their mothers being abused, watch them suffer in silence and follow the pattern, continuing the cycle.

And, these people – the predator and the prey – somehow find each other.

We have plenty of services available for those who find themselves in a violent relationship.

There are laws on the books to prosecute and punish offenders.

But, we have a couple of mindsets to uncouple.

First, we must let these victims know that something can be done, that they not only can, but should call the police to intervene, get a court ordered restraining order, seek a protected shelter.

But, most importantly, we must learn that we also must listen and react and not be judgmental.

Instead of asking, “What did you do wrong?” when a woman tells you of her situation, ask, “Have you sought help?”

Believe them.

It takes tremendous strength to admit that abuse has occurred because once that door is opened, the fingers get misdirected and pointed squarely at the victim instead of the perpetrator.

And, do not defend or write off the actions of the predator.

They are culpable, they are responsible and no matter how they will try to turn the blame, it lies squarely in their laps.

In the immediate aftermath of the current scandal, the president doubled down in his defense of his former staffers with the following Tweet: “Peoples (sic) lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation. Some are true and some are false. Some are old and some are new. There is no recovery for someone falsely accused – life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?”

Mr. President, by word and deed, you are part of the problem.

Mr. President, it is an insult to shrug these off as “mere” allegations.

Mr. President, if you are admitting that some of the allegations are true, then you are condoning domestic violence by putting these men in positions of prominence and power.

Mr. President, it doesn’t matter if these incidents occurred 10 minutes ago or 10 years ago. They were dangerous, violent acts perpetrated by thugs.

Most importantly, Mr. President, there is no recovery for the victims of domestic violence, who were betrayed by people they loved, embraced as partners, committed themselves to in spirit and deed.

Mr. President, it is time you and all of the other apologists stopped defending and making excuses for these violent attacks on women.

No bad days!

Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist for St. George News. The opinions stated in this article are his own and may not be representative of St. George News.

Email: edkociela.mx@gmail.com

Twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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41 Comments

  • Caveat_Emptor February 13, 2018 at 7:55 am

    Thanks Ed, well written.

  • dons8120 February 13, 2018 at 8:55 am

    The Mormon church has been hiding issues like this for as long as anyone can remember. It disgust me how the cult teaches its young men that they are better than women and that their wives should basically bow down to their every needs. Don’t get me wrong many members of the church are really good people and don’t act this way, but as a whole the Mormon church is a breeding grounds for people just like this Rob Porter fellow. For all the Mormon men reading this article and these comments, take an unbiased look at the teachings you have received from the older men in your church and you will see the pattern. If you don’t then maybe you are the problem.

    • desertgirl February 13, 2018 at 9:29 am

      The whole freakin world hides and avoids this issue. Your religious bigotry is disgusting.

      • dons8120 February 13, 2018 at 10:26 am

        I agree with you that this happens everywhere, but my comments are regarding this story and the issues affecting the people of Utah, specifically in the Mormon church. You must not have read the entire story, the victims stated that they went to their bishop and they were ignored. The culture in the Mormon church is flawed like many others. You can’t deny that there are many bad seeds in the church. I will not deny my disgust for the Mormon church and what they stand for, but my comment was not based on my dislike for the church. It is based on the statements of the victims and how they were ignored. Complain all you want and call me any name you want, but if you look deep down into your heart you know the church is biased against women and will protect the men and name sake of the church above all others. I am a bigot by definition, I have an intolerance towards anyone who beats on women or anyone who cannot defend themselves and use other people in positions of power to hide their crimes. I am not attacking your religious beliefs, just the culture the men of the church has created.

  • bikeandfish February 13, 2018 at 9:00 am

    Thanks for speaking up, Ed.

    I will say, I think allies like us need to be careful and thoughtful about our own language and narrative. Defining what is strong and courageous for victims isn’t our place. For some it takes tremendous strength and courage to keep themselves and their kids alive each day given the rate of intimate partner homicide in these cases. Bravery and courage is defined by the victim and their circumstance not our expectations of justice.

    Our President needs to be continously called out for the dangerous ideas he perpetuates. His comments in this case are a disgrace.

    • desertgirl February 13, 2018 at 9:28 am

      As a victim of domestic family abuse, and, someone who has worked with programs to address and aide victims and survivors, this is a big nothing burger. Total political. You, bike fish, and most after this story is over, and until the next salacious story that has nothing to do with the job of any sitting president will be nowhere to be found. Get over your ‘Trump syndrome’ and you’ll get more accomplished. Also, you and your ‘ilk’ never have a damn thing to say when some creepy liberal actually commits crimes. Disgusting and disingenuous.

      • bikeandfish February 13, 2018 at 9:43 am

        Nothing political about it. The wives had previously reported and documented incidents. This came up during standard FBI investigations for security clearance.

        Its a shame that you claim to be an ally to survivors and throw these women under the bus with comments like “nothing burger”. The only thing political about this is your willingness to do anything to protect Trump.

        Best of luck lobbing empty rhetoric at someone else.

      • theone February 13, 2018 at 10:02 am

        desertgirl you are the epitome of malice when it comes to these victims. How can you even claim to be a do gooder in working with programs to aid victims, and in the same breath utter the words “big nothing burger?” You just displayed the perfect example of sweeping it under the rug. You’re part of the problem, you’re an enabler.
        By the way, when Al Frankin was exposed I stood up and called for his resignation, so you are wrong about where liberals draw the line. I will also point out this is not just a story, it is a life event that has damaged women because some pea brained bully can’t check his temper. Shame on you for acting like your beloved tRump.
        You disgust me.

  • desertgirl February 13, 2018 at 9:24 am

    Sadly, most of the people with opinions about domestic abuse and many only when it involves PC language of a pol they don’t like, when this story is over, will be ‘nowhere to be found’ until the next big story.

    • bikeandfish February 13, 2018 at 9:49 am

      Its funny coming from someone who claims three women with documented abuse are “nothing burgers”. You make wild accusations with absolutely no proof about others here though. You have no clue about my involvement with survivors.

    • dons8120 February 13, 2018 at 10:42 am

      You must have been hurt really bad and for that I am sorry, but attacking peoples comments who are condemning domestic abuse is not helping your cause. This issue has no affiliation with politics or religion, it is a problem affecting everyone, but it must be called out when someone in a position of power like the president or his aids abuse women. Whether you like Trump or not his comments on twitter paint a picture of support for this abuser. The evidence is right in front of our eyes for everyone to see they just need to remove the wool to see it.

  • stg-anon February 13, 2018 at 9:32 am

    When you elect a hateful misogynist to be President, you get a hatefully misogynistic administration

    • John February 13, 2018 at 10:18 am

      And that’s exactly why we didn’t elect the Clinton’s again ! You are so right Desertgirl..!

      • dons8120 February 13, 2018 at 11:40 am

        No you just elected a man who brags about grabbing women by the p#@sy and makes statements like this … “Before a show, I’ll go backstage and everyone’s getting dressed, and everything else, and you know, no men are anywhere, and I’m allowed to go in because I’m the owner of the pageant and therefore I’m inspecting it, You know, I’m inspecting because I want to make sure that everything is good.”
        “You know, they’re standing there with no clothes. ‘Is everybody okay?’” “And you see these incredible looking women, and so, I sort of get away with things like that.”

        • John February 13, 2018 at 12:04 pm

          Go cry somewhere else before I use words that will make you cry ! If it wasn’t for liberal talking points you wouldn’t have a clue what mysogeny is..Giryl man donny your’e a sorry excuse for a freedom fighter..hahahaha! You certainly resist truth..

          • bikeandfish February 13, 2018 at 12:56 pm

            Those of us who are knowledgeable about sexism understand its content and tools of policing, ie the properly spelled misogyny.

            Trump’s ardent support of domestic abusers in his ranks isn’t remotely an apples to apples comparison to the Clinton’s actions. Its just another failed attempt at deflection. Trump is in office and its the job of citizens and the free press to shed honest light on his contemptible activity.

          • John February 13, 2018 at 1:01 pm

            so if that’s the case bikeandfish, what happened to you? I see truth eludes you also… hahahaha!

          • comments February 13, 2018 at 2:01 pm

            Its amazing, trump supports actually have no way to defend his character w/o making themselves into total clowns. The man is plainly and simply a sleaze.

          • bikeandfish February 13, 2018 at 2:07 pm

            Petty and meaningless as always.

            The truth is simple:. Trump chooses to employ and honor predators.

          • John February 13, 2018 at 3:07 pm

            Get the facts libturds… You have to prove it and you cant ! If you want to be on the side of the truth, all you have to do is take the opposite side of these brainwashed liberals.. works every time ! They are like those punching clowns, they keep popping back up and are too stupid to stay down.. hahahahaha! TDS is thick on this page…hahahahaha! 7 more years of entertainment..

          • dons8120 February 13, 2018 at 3:44 pm

            How much more proof do you need John, are voice recordings of Donald Trump not enough. The sad thing about you is that no matter what we say you will disagree with us. I am willing to bet that if Trump told you he was your father, you would believe him. I am done responding to you and I hope others follow. You obviously only want to cause chaos. You must live a very lonely life, I almost feel sorry for you.

          • bikeandfish February 13, 2018 at 3:54 pm

            What truth is missing? The fact that the WH was informed in the spring by the FBI about the status of Porter’s clearance investigation? Or that two ex-wives of Porter’s have documented evidence? Or that Trump said “It’s a, obviously, tough time for him” or that “we wish him well” to a predator? All the while not standing out against domestic abuse or support for the victims in this case?

            John, you have never exhibited a concern about truth on this forum. You push conspiracy theories debunked years ago and just engage in petty insults and the oddest of right-wing rhetoric.

          • John February 13, 2018 at 4:04 pm

            Hahahahahaha! You morons love chasing unicorns.. It’s pretty funny watching you chase things that don’t exist 7 more years of imbeciles playing pokemon go ! You all just go wherever they lead you with the liberal carrot! ..hahahaha!! go eat some more tide pods..

          • John February 13, 2018 at 5:01 pm

            Just for your information, I have not added any any info to your liberal stroke fest. Just pointed out that you all have severe Trump Derangement Syndrome and are easily manipulated by the liberal media.. Yes, abuse is a horrible thing, But you useless word warriors aren’t really doing anything about it ! Just a bunch of snowflake blowhards..Keep chasing that carrot !..

        • comments February 13, 2018 at 6:26 pm

          John, it’s pretty clear you’ve got a boycrush on the donald. Can’t argue with true love. good luck w/ that

          • John February 13, 2018 at 8:59 pm

            ooooh! you hurt my feelings .. hahahahaha! MORON !

          • John February 14, 2018 at 11:17 am

            Unlike you, I don’t need CNN and MSNBC to tell me what and how to think like you do..Meat puppet !

          • comments February 14, 2018 at 2:38 pm

            Let’s see 8:59 pm to 11:17 am

            I hate to see anyone cry for over 14hrs straight. Breaks my heart. 😢😢😢😢😢😢😢😢😢😢😢😢😢😢😢

  • comments February 13, 2018 at 12:35 pm

    Just think, Ed, if you had written this for print you wouldn’t be able to go nuts on the line breaks like you have. lol

    I suspect old Orrin is a closeted secret polygamist and would not be surprised if he had abused plenty of women and girls– think Warren Jeffs Lite.

    “The Donald” has a clear history of sex tourism in impoverished east europe and has exploited many many vulnerable young women– a great many of them likely underage.

    I’m certainly not surprised by anything they do. Accumulate enough power and wealth and they can get away with nearly anything. Out of sight out of mind.

    • bikeandfish February 13, 2018 at 1:29 pm

      Too far, comment. Accusing Hatch of polygamy and Trump of sex tourism does the issue no good. It doesn’t help victims and doesn’t further the conversation.

      • comments February 13, 2018 at 2:07 pm

        don’t be naive, fish. Hatch being a closet plyg COULD be a stretch. At the very least Hatch is a dedicated plyg supporter, and that can be proven. But our dear pres didn’t haul home his Slovakian trophy wives home out of the blue. Trump, being as rich as he is, has gotten away w/ a lot, and in the corrupt countries of e. europe it has been very easy for him to do so. And that’s exactly what he’s done.

        • comments February 13, 2018 at 2:10 pm

          And what even is the conversation? have we moved from sex abuse to domestic abuse? I honestly can’t keep track. And it isn’t something that interests me all that much bc women have been just as complicit in it as men.

          • bikeandfish February 13, 2018 at 3:04 pm

            The context of this article is the domestic abuse accounts by three ex-wives of former White House employees let go this week. Its an important topic even if Kellyanne Conway and Sarah Huckabee Sanders provide cover for the administration. There are some individual women who are complicit as individuals but I think its a stretch to say women in general are as complicit when it comes to domestic abuse. The numbers don’t support that claim and its also not a productive contribution.

        • bikeandfish February 13, 2018 at 3:04 pm

          Neither of those allegations are relevant to the topic at hand.

          • comments February 13, 2018 at 3:54 pm

            ok bike, u can have the last word

            its not of much interest to me

  • commonsense February 13, 2018 at 8:39 pm

    It’s a little hypocritical Ed for a Dem to be talking about abuse. Clinton set the standard when he raped and brutalized women while serving office. He was impeached but Senate Dems wouldn’t vote for removal from office.
    Then Dems made his wife their choice for president. Wow!

    • comments February 13, 2018 at 9:18 pm

      the donald’s behavior is indefensible, so all you can do is go prattling on about clinton. bill clinton and trump are cut from the same cloth– both sleazes. most of us “libruls” were not enthused with the female clinton, hence your donald sits in office, the sleaze that he is.

  • dodgers February 14, 2018 at 5:07 am

    Many who condemn our president Trump do so because of their hatred for him. In addition, many of them stood silent about the abuses of president Clinton, including his raping women. As icing on the cake, many of these same people also voted for and supported Hillary Clinton and still put her on a pedestal, a person who demonized and destroyed the reputations of the women abused by her husband. The inconsistency is overwhelming.

    • bikeandfish February 14, 2018 at 10:01 am

      Deflection that only benefits Donald Trump, not these three ex-wives.

      I can only speak for myself but I condemn the recent behavior because of my values and recognition that domestic abuse is abhorrent.

  • PatriotLiberal February 14, 2018 at 1:39 pm

    I have a question, why do you allow john to post such awful stuff?

    • bikeandfish February 14, 2018 at 2:06 pm

      ^This

      The site owners reference site views to their advertisers and I would wager they are happy to have every site visit for a comment count to those statistics.

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