Listening to the presentation Thursday by Sue Doman, who told of her sister’s death at the hands of her husband, Drew Peterson, I recalled other stories of domestic violence I have heard over the years, but none as heinous as she related.
Her sister, the late Kathleen Savio, met her death in 2004, but her case wasn’t investigated as a homicide until Peterson’s fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, disappeared in late 2007.
Peterson was a small-town Illinois sheriff’s officer who was able to convince fellow lawmen his wife was crazy, and he was not guilty of the abuses of which she had accused him. After he killed her and dimped her body, he filed a missing-person report in his own office.
Most domestic-violence cases that local officers investigate are more straight-forward. A man usually abuses his wife or girlfriend — or sometimes it’s the other way around. Sometimes they abuse each other. As often as not, the combatants have been consuming alcohol or drugs, or both.
Sometimes, when officers arrive, the parties to the dispute will turn on the police — and that’s when it gets dangerous. Strange as it may seem, a wife who called the police on her husband sometimes will take a knife to an officer who tries to arrest her old man, even though she has a black eye and her lip is bloody from her spouse having beaten her. Or, a husband will attack an officer who is trying to protect the woman.
Some women are brought up in households or even cultures where they are led to believe men have a right to beat them or otherwise abuse them. Getting these women to disabuse themselves of those wrong ideas is part of the important work our Victim Services Center does.
Some men believe they have a right to beat women — that women are their chattels. Some of them, even after they’ve been arrested and their spouses have left them, still believe that.
Insanity, and it can be right down the street.