Dispatches from a Reporter's Notebook

The War at Home

Posted February 26, 2007
Updated March 8, 2007

Okay, here’s the deal, I feel like a broken record, but I will say it one more time. Women are almost always killed by a husband or boyfriend, period. The statistics on this are clear and irrefutable. Yet, for some reason, as a community we continue to dismiss domestic murders as common and understandable, as “crimes of passion.”

In my eighteen years in the business I can’t tell you how many times a producer has asked me the following question over the phone: “So it’s just a domestic, there’s nothing really to it?” I know it would be sexier if the Bogeyman jumped out of the bushes, but that simply doesn’t happen with any regularity.

In the past two weeks Wake County has had its share of domestic violence. Two weeks ago a Wendell man was charged with stabbing his wife to death. In a gruesome act he and his cohorts wrote words in his dead wife’s blood. Last week a Raleigh man was charged with trying to stab his girlfriend to death. She ran from door to door searching for help in her apartment complex trailing blood up and down the sidewalks. A Good Samaritan who likely saved her life rushed her to the hospital. A fatal fire last week that claimed the life of a couple and their child may turn out to be a domestic homicide. In the latter two cases the women had protective orders which clearly spelled out the fact that they felt their lives were in danger.

What this says to me is that we as a community, and in turn we in the news media, need to pay even more attention to these murders because they are becoming more prevalent. Clearly, a restraining order alone is not enough to save these women’s lives. The problem deserves a community response. In both the Wendell murder and the Raleigh stabbing neighbors witnessed what they thought was abuse occurring between the men accused and the victims. You have to wonder, would it have made a difference if they had called the polic?. I don’t know the answer, but it’s a question that’s worth considering.

I suggest that women by nature are less violent. They are less likely to be involved in crime, less likely to sell drugs, less likely to own a gun. Therefore, they are less likely to become murder victims through any of their own actions. Instead, these women become victims in the one place that we should all feel safe- at home. Isn’t it time we made home safe again?


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  • martini Mar 14, 2007

    I was a child in a physically household for over 16 years. My mom stayed because of us kids. I have seen my dad hit my mother so hard, he blackened both of her eyes and she continued to stay. LUCKILY my mom is still with us and left after my sister was 16. Now, she has three kids that are scarred by the acts they witnessed.

  • dwaynesword.blogspot..com Mar 11, 2007

    These people do this because they are not real men. There is no reason for a man to lay his hand on a female in a unwilling way. With the violent video games and movies that we have today, people do not seem to be able to seperate themselves from reality. Maybe if we bring back the rope and start hanging some of them in public it will make people think before they act.

    Some people may argue that violence is not the answer. But what we are doing now is not working. I was with one lady for 25 years, and although we may have argued, I never raised a hand to harm her; that is a man. Anyone that does other wise, ain't nothing but a punk.

  • mommyto2monkeys Mar 8, 2007

    Thank you, Amanda, for pointing out what is obvious to most women. I have been in an abusive marriage to the point that my husband held a gun to my head and threatened to kill me. I credit my upbringing and the fact that no one in my family has ever been abusive for the knowledge that what I was dealing with was neither normal, nor acceptable. A lot of these women don't have that background knowledge..and in most of their cases, the abuse they witnessed never became homocidal.

    There have been more of these situations in the past weeks, with the dismemberment of the woman in Michigan by her husband with the kids in the house, and the man in Indiana that kidnapped his daughter, strapped her in his private plane, and flew it into the side of his estranged wife's parents house. This violence is unconscienable, and the only explanation for why it continues to happen is the exact attitude toward it that you indicated, "its just domestic, so there's really nothing to it."

  • davidpmcknight Feb 27, 2007

    Women need places of support for any and all domestic crisis and emergency situations. Also in need of support from the community are the friends and co-workers of women who may be called upon for personal assistance because sometimes a person will think they are well-situated enough to render effective personal assistance to a woman facing domestic stress only to find out later that the situation is too complex for them to be able to navigate alone, no matter how good or close a friend they may be.

    So we need a stronger and more effective network of assistance to women fearing for their own safety and well-being, and it must be backed up with strong community support connections to prevent a sense of isolation or dependence from setting in.

    David McKnight

  • houdie1031 Feb 27, 2007

    Thanks so much Amanda for broaching this shameful crime of family member against family member. I don't pretend to have a solution, but for myself having been the victim of rape and domestic violence when I was younger; the solution has been education, getting a good job, building myself up and building a strong support system. For a lot of women with children, limited job skills, lack of support from others, and a possessive partner, I don't think 'Just leave him' is an option. It's ironic that during this Valentine month, when our society celebrates romantic love, there have been so many attacks on women and children.

    To quote that great philosoper Tina Turner 'What's love got to with it?'

About this Blog:

WRAL's Amanda Lamb offers a behind-the-scenes look at what TV news reporters do, the people they meet and how their jobs affect them.