Failing to Protect Women from Domestic Violence in the US

Around the world, including here in the US, a woman’s greatest risk of violence is from someone she knows.  And the international community, including the United States, recognizes violence against women as a human rights violation involving state responsibility.

Jessica Lenahan domestic violence women

Jessica Lenahan has become an activist for ending violence against women © Private

In June of 1999, Jessica Lenahan lost her three daughters, aged 7, 8, and 10.  On one terrible day in June, Jessica learned her three daughters were with her estranged husband, against whom she had a court-issued protection order.

Yet, on each of the eight times Jessica contacted the Castle Rock, Colorado Police Department, the police response ranged from uncoordinated to belittling.  One officer even chided her for worrying as the girls were with their father, despite the man’s known history of emotional instability and abuse. No help was sent to secure her children, and they were later found dead in their father’s truck.

This was part of a systematic failure to protect Jessica and her children from domestic violence or the threat of violence, and it cost three little girls their lives.

Yet Jessica may finally have gotten some justice.  In its first decision on a women’s rights case against the United States, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) concluded that the US violated both Jessica’s rights to judicial protection and to be free from violence and non-discrimination and her three young daughters’ right to life.

As this case and the decision illustrate, there is no excuse for failures to promptly and effectively enforce protection orders, especially after repeated pleas to the police.

In its decision, the IACHR reaffirmed that the state has a duty to address violence against women and girls, a position long-argued by Amnesty International.

Domestic Violence is a violation of a woman’s rights to physical integrity, liberty, and all too often, her right to life itself.  What’s more, domestic violence can threaten the rights and lives of children in the home as well.

The US government should do more to address its systematic failure to protect women and children from domestic violence, in line with its national and international human rights obligations.

Join us in calling on the US Government to fulfill its obligations to protect women and children from domestic violence.

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16 thoughts on “Failing to Protect Women from Domestic Violence in the US

  1. ONE OF THE U.S. GOVERNMENT'S JOBS WITHOUT QUESTION OR HESITATION:

    The US government should do more to address its systematic failure to protect women and children from domestic violence, in line with its national and international human rights obligations

  2. The US government should do more to address its systematic failure to protect women and children from domestic violence, in line with its national and international human rights obligations

  3. This is so sad. Woman's rights need to be worked on definitely. Domestic violence is so common it's so sad. It's sad. I hope something an be done to help fix this situation.

  4. ONE OF THE U.S. GOVERNMENT’S JOBS WITHOUT QUESTION OR HESITATION:

    The US government should do more to address its systematic failure to protect women and children from domestic violence, in line with its national and international human rights obligations

  5. The US government should do more to address its systematic failure to protect women and children from domestic violence, in line with its national and international human rights obligations

  6. This is so sad. Woman’s rights need to be worked on definitely. Domestic violence is so common it’s so sad. It’s sad. I hope something an be done to help fix this situation.

  7. You hear one too many times this sad but true story. These Judges and police I am sorry to say but it is the truth have a deep hatred for women. And GALs and others do nothing at all to help with the abuse. They damage the child by placing the child in a dangerous place or position and families are torn apart. There seems to be protection against Judges who place children in these bad situations. Any parent found to have battered a spouse really DOESNT HAVE THE BEST INTEREST OF THE CHILD AT HAND. But the Judge in my case just with his mouth seemed to think so.
    Good mom married with young daughter. Father convicted of assault and battery. I filed for divorce and got it. He filed for custody. A report recommended that I keep custody. Father filed false restraining orders on me. Child complained of sexual abuse Judge ignored us…have medical report…another attempt on my life by choking….judge ignored police report and hospital report stating I suffered thorax or throat trauma…child witnessed all acts. Judge in every instance favored x hubby. Courts would not allow me to appeal anything….enormous child support order and from the start knew I couldnt comply. Judge entered false protection orders against me removing me PERMANENTLY FROM MY HOME THAT WAS GIFTED TO ME FROM HUBBY. I had to leave the country because I feared for my life.

    This has happened to so many parents….but what can you do? To this day ….10 years on neither me nor my family knows the whereabouts of my daughter.

  8. You hear one too many times this sad but true story. These Judges and police I am sorry to say but it is the truth have a deep hatred for women. And GALs and others do nothing at all to help with the abuse. They damage the child by placing the child in a dangerous place or position and families are torn apart. There seems to be protection against Judges who place children in these bad situations. Any parent found to have battered a spouse really DOESNT HAVE THE BEST INTEREST OF THE CHILD AT HAND. But the Judge in my case just with his mouth seemed to think so.
    Good mom married with young daughter. Father convicted of assault and battery. I filed for divorce and got it. He filed for custody. A report recommended that I keep custody. Father filed false restraining orders on me. Child complained of sexual abuse Judge ignored us…have medical report…another attempt on my life by choking….judge ignored police report and hospital report stating I suffered thorax or throat trauma…child witnessed all acts. Judge in every instance favored x hubby. Courts would not allow me to appeal anything….enormous child support order and from the start knew I couldnt comply. Judge entered false protection orders against me removing me PERMANENTLY FROM MY HOME THAT WAS GIFTED TO ME FROM HUBBY. I had to leave the country because I feared for my life.

    This has happened to so many parents….but what can you do? To this day ….10 years on neither me nor my family knows the whereabouts of my daughter.

  9. This shows hos survivors of domestic violence are treated by the police, dishonest lawyers and the courts. After my son was shot, it was kept from me. I found out by getting the hospital bill a few weeks later. He lived, but he will carry the scar forever. I was kept from the court hearing of the "shooter" who walked, not to protect him, but to protect my ex. The involvement of drugs was completely ignored and the evidence, though mentioned in the hospital report, was destroyed by the police. This was not the only time drug evidence in the case was destroyed.

    We survivors are denied legal representation, and due to lack of funds, cannot afford any. Most lawyers specialize in defending the abusers of America. I have been forced to hide in another country for my own saftey after repeated incidents and death threats, even having my house shot at. All were ignored by the police. I am a survivor without a country. Hearings have continued to happen, but I am never served with the papers, though I have provided an address for them to be served at. The abuse continues, using court systems that are biased, and in some cases, corrupted. The crimes against me continue, and the James City County, VA police department refuses to investigate. I have 4 large boxes of evidence and more exists in Virgina, yet no one helps or will even consider it. They only want to destroy it, constantly asking me to turn over the originals and all copies.

  10. This shows hos survivors of domestic violence are treated by the police, dishonest lawyers and the courts. After my son was shot, it was kept from me. I found out by getting the hospital bill a few weeks later. He lived, but he will carry the scar forever. I was kept from the court hearing of the “shooter” who walked, not to protect him, but to protect my ex. The involvement of drugs was completely ignored and the evidence, though mentioned in the hospital report, was destroyed by the police. This was not the only time drug evidence in the case was destroyed.

    We survivors are denied legal representation, and due to lack of funds, cannot afford any. Most lawyers specialize in defending the abusers of America. I have been forced to hide in another country for my own saftey after repeated incidents and death threats, even having my house shot at. All were ignored by the police. I am a survivor without a country. Hearings have continued to happen, but I am never served with the papers, though I have provided an address for them to be served at. The abuse continues, using court systems that are biased, and in some cases, corrupted. The crimes against me continue, and the James City County, VA police department refuses to investigate. I have 4 large boxes of evidence and more exists in Virgina, yet no one helps or will even consider it. They only want to destroy it, constantly asking me to turn over the originals and all copies.