Toledo, Ohio residents must have felt they traveled back in time this week when oddball mayoral candidate Opal Covey offered her thoughts on domestic violence in a forum for candidates.
“People who receive domestic violence, a lot of cases, except the children, is [sic] causing it themselves because they are not keeping control of their lives, watching out, suppressing their feeling, which you should do — not every feeling that you have is going to work for you,” Ms. Covey, making her fourth bid for mayor, said. “It is going to have consequences and you will reap your consequences.”
She went on to say the victims are “causing it themselves” by choosing bad mates and not leaving abusive mates.
“They should not be with that mate. … They’ve been told get rid of him. Now, you know you should wait,” Ms. Covey said. “One of the biggest problems is sex. People, when they get up to adulthood, of course they have the sexual feelings, all right. And so, therefore, they are going to go out and they are going to try it, but they are not realizing they are putting their lives at stake.”
The Toledo Blade covered the mayoral forum, and reported consistently horrified reactions from the other candidates.
In fairness, every large community has a nutty wannabe politician who causes a stir. But a closer look reveals it wasn’t too long ago in US history that most of us shared Opal Covey’s views about domestic violence.
In 1964, an article published about battered women by three psychiatrists indicated battered women had a masochistic need that their husband’s aggression filled.
Two years later, New York state allowed divorce if a woman was beaten by her husband so long as it was proven that a sufficient number of beatings had taken place.
We have come a long way in understanding domestic violence in America. Instead of focusing on the psyche of the victim, we’ve learned to spend our energies scrutinizing and intervening in the behavior of the perpetrator.
Dear Opal Covey,
No one deserves to be hit. Abusers can choose to leave rather than hit their partners. Victims cannot force someone to hit them.
Not all battered women can safely leave. More women are killed after leaving their abuser.
Some battered women are promiscuous. Some are not. So what?
Let’s keep moving forward.
Do you know someone impacted by domestic violence? Tell them to call 1-800-799 SAFE.
And enjoy this older video by Oval Covey. (This is not an endorsement!)