Misplaced Priorities in Kansas October 13, 2011

Dear Blog,

Please accept my humble apologies for being too busy with school, work, and fun to follow politics carefully enough to write blog posts.  Thank you for still being here!



Is the Topeka City Council misguided, fiscally conservative, or just plain mean?  I couldn’t tell from all the news stories about them decriminalizing domestic violence.  They’re actually letting people out of jail rather than charging them with a crime when they hit, punch, threaten, or beat the people around them.  But maybe Topeka just doesn’t have the money to protect women and children from abusers.

Then I looked at the Topeka budget for this year.  I am not an economist or even a person who likes graphs, but I look at this and I can’t help but wonder why they can’t afford to prosecute abusers.

How can they be spending 28.8% of their salary expenses on police, but not be able to do anything about domestic violence?

They spend 5.3% of their budget on their parks programs, but they can’t protect their citizens?

True story.  My grandparents abused my dad when he was a kid.  My dad was abusive to my brother, and probably to me and my mom but I don’t remember back that far.  Then my mom was abusive to my brother and me.  Then my brother was abusive to me and to his wife.  This is how abuse goes.  If you don’t stop an abuser, they will keep abusing, and if they don’t think they might go to jail or have some harsh consequence, they will never stop abusing.

And victims will keep being victimized by all the people in their life unless they get counseling and learn to be survivors instead of victims.  Where in Topeka’s budget is the money for domestic abuse victims?  Where do they try to break the cycle?  Has no one explained the cycle to the city council members in Kansas, or are they just too busy blaming the victim to even care?

I grew up in Texas, and spent most of middle school and high school in Austin.  I had free counseling through a city agency, and Safe Place came in to my HS to teach us about abusive relationships and loving relationships.  They gave us advice on how to tell if your partner was abusive, and they also told us how to get help if we found ourselves in an abusive relationship.

In Texas, when someone is arrested for abusing their family members or their girlfriend or boyfriend, they are charged with a crime, and the city or the county presses charges even if the victim changes their minds.  And people go to jail for abuse, and lose their jobs.

The same is true in NJ, and there are organizations that help abuse victims here.  NJ even has mandatory arrest and seizure of weapons, which Texas does not have.

Abusers are abusers.  They are unlikely to change, and often it takes something like an arrest for them to even look at their behavior.  Even an abuser who stops hitting can still be a threat to their family members in other ways.  They may substitute financial or emotional control if they’re worried that physical violence will lead to arrest.  But even that is safer for their family.  In the end, victims need help, and often the time that an organization like SafePlace can help them is while the abuser is in jail and unable to control them or convince them to take them back or drop charges.  If you don’t put the abuser in jail, the victim has no room and no time to find their path from victim to survivor.

And then it continues to the next generation and the next.

Topeka, if you are so strapped for cash that you need to choose between your public parks and protecting abuse victims, then please choose protection. But I suspect that you didn’t even look at hard choices.  I think you just chose to protect the abusers and leave the victims to fend for themselves.  You’d just better hope that your own partners don’t decide to take advantage of your decision and start to victimize you.

You can email the Topeka City Council here, and be sure to remind them that October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  Here are all their email addresses:  council@topeka.org<council@topeka.org>; khiller@topeka.org; jalcala@topeka.orgs; ortiz@topeka.org; deverhart@topeka.org ;lwolgast@topeka.org; cmanspeaker@topeka.org; agray@topeka.org; barcher@topeka.org; rharmon@topeka.org.

Psychoticus Rex October 13th, 2011

(1) Cassie please note the “expenditures” pie graph…the percentages don’t agree with the graph.
(2) What the hell is the CITY doing SPENDING money on parking? This is usually administered by the city at a PROFIT….someone’s cooking the books.

Sharonlee October 13th, 2011

No apologies needed, although I am glad you listed fun as one of the reasons.

Once again you have utilized your special insight to bring some clarity and focus to an issue. Sometimes I am sorry to admit that Kansas is my home state.

Sharonlee October 14th, 2011

@ Psychoticus Rex:
I believe the graph was provided by the city. Kansas has cut education funding so maybe it was prepared by an affected student.