It’s well known that in domestic abuse and rape cases, too often, the victim gets put on trial. But I can’t recall a time where the one who reported the crime was personally attacked the way people are going after Ivory Madison, the neighbor who called police to make DV charges against San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi.
Madison’s motive for calling police has been the subject of much debate. Mirkarimi, who has denied the allegations of domestic abuse, at one point suggested nefarious political forces behind the scandal. In an interview with a Venezuelan radio station Tuesday, Lopez — who has publicly denied being abused by her husband — suggested the sheriff was a victim of dirty politics and questioned Madison’s reasons for going to the police.
Since the incident, Madison has declined to be interviewed, leaving many questions unanswered, including why she waited four days to call police and then refused to surrender the video.
If we’re guessing about Ivory Madison’s motives for reporting the abuse to police, here’s mine:
Madison and Eliana Lopez were neighbors who reportedly met in a parenting class. Maybe Madison gave a party for Mirkarimi’s campaign in Hayes Valley and supported him financially (reportedly with $500 checks from herself and her husband) in part because of her friendship with Lopez. Not long after Mirkarimi won the election, Lopez told Madison she was abused by him. Lopez also allegedly told Madison that her husband was powerful and that she was afraid he would take their child from her.
Madison has a history of working with and supporting women’s organizations. Most likely, she knows how dangerous reporting these crimes are for women and also how hard DV cases are to prove. Here are some stats:
One in four women (25%) has experienced domestic violence in her lifetime.
Nearly three out of four (74%) of Americans personally know someone who is or has been a victim of domestic violence.
On average, more than three women are murdered by their intimate partners in this country every day.
Domestic violence is one of the most chronically under reported crimes.
Only approximately one-quarter of all physical assaults, one-fifth of all rapes, and one-half of all stalkings perpetuated against females by intimate partners are reported to the police.
My guess is that Madison filmed Lopez because she wanted her to have proof and protection. Madison promised Lopez that she would not release the tape. That’s most likely why she refused to give it up until the police had a warrant to get it.
So why did Madison decide to report the incident to police? Again, my guess is that she realized she had to, that it was her moral obligation. The sheriff plays a leadership role in how all DV cases are responded to in this city. It’s not up to Madison to decide whether or not the charges have merit. It”s a much bigger issue than her personal views or her relationship with Lopez. It’s an issue for the courts. What would you do?
The Bay Citizen reports:
Mirkarimi’s supporters say law enforcement may have overreached in pursuing a domestic violence charge without the victim’s cooperation, adding a child endangerment count even though his son was not physically harmed, and requesting a protective order temporarily separating Mirkarimi from his family.
However, a domestic violence expert, and the police department’s own procedural manual, suggest officials played this case by the book.
It’s often the case that victims of DV recant their stories. That’s why police are instructed to pursue the charges without the victim’s cooperation. In reporting the crime, Ivory Madison did exactly what she was supposed to.
Full disclosure: I supported Chris Cunnie for sheriff, primarily because he actively campaigned to fight domestic violence. I blogged about it here. I met Ivory Madison once at a party. We talked about the lack of female superheroes.