This article from the Charleston Gazette follows up a story that has been bothering me. A young black woman was killed this past weekend. It's a tragic story. A teenage girl with a three-year-old son was killed by her ex-boyfriend. A tragic case of domestic violence that has reached a bitter end, leaving a three-year-old motherless and essentially, an orphan.
What disturbs me is that the police were quite familiar with this relationship. There were about 20 cases of domestic violence on the record. Violent, violent behavior, including kidnapping and weapons violations. Yet he was walking free, his restraining order apparently just a suggestion.
What does this say about domestic violence? That it's her fault? That she would leave when she got tired of it? Well, she did leave. And she was shot down as she was hiding from him.
Perhaps it's part of the Appalachian ethos that we don't interfere in family matters. West Virginia has a very low murder rate. But of these murders, most are related to domestic violence. If you're killed, you're most likely to be killed by a member of your family. Perhaps it's that we think that women who get in these situations and can't get out shouldn't have gotten into them in the first place. Perhaps it's that she's poor. Her family conducted a fundraiser today to pay for her funeral. Nothing about a college fund for the boy as a proper burial for the mother is more pressing. Perhaps it's that she's black. I'm not saying that we're burning crosses in yards. But there is a part of racism that suggests that a black person has less value. It's deeply embedded and harder to face.
Perhaps for Nalisha Fiona Gravely, the combination of being a young poor black woman trying to end an abusive relationship was the perfect storm that ended her young life.
Rest in peace, Nalisha. Your troubles are over. Now we need to face our troubles and see what we can do to see that your story is not repeated.
Crossposted at Appalachian Greens.