Disclaimer: I have no idea what really happened with Zimmerman – this post is based upon info I’ve learned through my work and what that leads me to guess about Zimmerman.
Disclaimer #2: Okay I’m breaking my own rule about posting less in an effort to take care of myself. But whatevs this is too important… this Zimmerman bologna is ridiculous and I can’t not say anything. As frustrating as it is to watch, it’s also an incredible educational moment. And again, I’m not saying he is or he isn’t absolutely an abuser. But the chances he’s not … well, that seems unlikely. So here are some things to keep in mind while reading articles about George Zimmerman and accusations of domestic violence.
Most importantly, remember that batterers lie. We know there are two sides to every story. We also know that people are required to tell the truth in court or to the police. But those facts help abusers constantly get away with partner abuse – and for some abusers, this includes other types of crime as well. When domestic violence is the crime, it’s essential to consider that a batterer will lie. The batterer will twist the story and manipulate the truth. Or they’ll shamelessly lie. And some will accuse the victim of doing exactly what they (the batterer) did. Like say Zimmerman is a batterer, he’s used this tactic many times. No he didn’t stalk an murder a teenager. That teenager attacked him! No he didn’t assault his ex-wife – she did it to him! And no he didn’t smash items in his girlfriend’s house on Monday night after she asked him to leave her house. She smashed them – oh so, she smashed her own things – that makes total sense! And he told her to leave – her own house (riiiiigggghhhhhttt)! Can you already see the holes poking through? I’m not saying that when someone’s been accused of domestic violence, you automatically consider everything they say to be a lie. But don’t take it at face value. Question it. Recognize that concepts such as two sides to every story don’t carry the same weight when you’re dealing with domestic violence.
Controlling partners like to call their partners “crazy.” It’s often that when an abuser is trying to cover his tracks, he’ll say he “had no choice, she was being just crazy.” We live in a society where women have long been told they’re less emotionally stable – and not just by batterers but many men pull this sh*t from time to time. So it’s believable (though often not true) when a batterer says, “Oh she is just crazy, I had to stop her from being so out of control.” It’s an easy way for an abuser to both justify his behavior and discredit the survivor. So when I read that Zimmerman called his girlfriend “crazy”, it just makes me more suspicious of him.
Abusers use suicide to control their partners. They threaten to kill themselves if their partner tries to end the relationship. This doesn’t happen in every abusive relationship. But it sometimes does. And when it does, it is a way to manipulate their partner. So when it’s mentioned in the CNN article (first link on this post) that Zimmerman’s girlfriend says he threatened suicide, he probably did. And he probably did it to abuse her. And it’s important to know that abusers who threaten suicide tend to be more dangerous than those who don’t.
So that’s a good start, these are just some helpful tips to keep in mind when reading articles about domestic violence. And let’s really, really look hard at George Zimmerman. Holding abusers accountable is an important step towards creating a safer world.