The Abuse Excuse: Dismissing Domestic Violence and Its Effects in the Criminal Court System
Date:  03-14-2017

Domestic violence survivors have been criminalized, and imprisoned for acts carried out by their abusive partners
The following article was originally posted by Rewire:

In January, 30-year-old Noor Zahi Salman was arrested in connection with the 2016 Pulse nightclub massacre that left 49 people dead and many more injured and traumatized. Salman’s name had, until then, been largely unfamiliar to the U.S. public; she is the widow of shooter Omar Mateen, who was killed in a shootout with the police. Salman is charged with aiding and abetting terrorism because, prosecutors say, she never warned police or investigators about Mateen’s behaviors or actions.

After the massacre, Salman spoke about her husband’s violence and terror—including strangling her, pulling her hair, and threatening to kill her—as well as his efforts to isolate her from her family. Mateen’s first wife had also come forward with recollections of domestic violenc during the couple’s four-month marriage, violence that only ended when her parents flew to Florida to rescue her.

But, in the wake of Salman’s arrest, prosecutors publicly expressed doubt that she had been abused, noting that none of her family members reported that to the FBI.

Salman’s case is still pending; it is unclear, at this point, the extent to which details of Mateen as a domestic abuser, or Salman’s involvement in or knowledge of the murders he planned to commit, will emerge. But regardless of the outcome of her trial, her claims of domestic violence—and prosecutors’ disbelief of these claims—raise broader questions about whether abuse survivors should be held accountable for their partners’ actions. Continue reading