Monday, a woman left her home for a quick grocery run. It's something that happens every day, and by her own admission, something routine.
But the result of that trip to Whole Foods on Preston and Forest is both unroutine and sadly routine, for now she's being victimized twice - once by a man who beat her and took her treasured necklace given to her by her father and her diamond wedding ring, and again by commenters at the Dallas Morning News.
The former, decidedly not routine. Nobody goes to the grocery store thinking they're going to be beaten and robbed. But sadly, the latter is becoming more routine as more and more people blame the victim - even when presented with evidence she's telling the truth.
In this case, the story went up on dallasnews.com, and immediately people began speculating that the robbery didn't happen at all - that her husband beat her, that it was an insurance scam. Even if it wasn't, she should have known better than to wear nice things to the grocery store.
thinker1: "ok she drove home after getting beat and robbed come on and I bet it was a black man who did it. I bet her husband beat her and this is a cover up story"
ToniWal: "The mention of a diamond necklace being yanked from her neck and the ring being pulled from her finger is certainly suspicious. Who wears diamonds to go grocery shopping?"
CY1: "I stopped wearing expensive jewerly and told my friends to do the same several years ago - is it just me or is wearing a $90k ring and diamond necklace almost anywhere let alone the grocery store STUPID - i think there is a lot more to this story than meets the eye - follow the money :))))"
When presented with evidence, in the form of a video from a local news report that shows the blood on the ground, the bruises and stitches on the woman's face, the terror in her voice, do people calm down and begin worrying about the fact that some "preppy-looking" guy is out there beating women for their jewelry?
No. Instead, we get more of the same. She shouldn't have worn that jewelry. She should've known better. She should've stayed put and called the cops.
David: "Wearing that kind of hardware in public is not a sure sign of brilliance either..."
Eboni: "I agree with the comment above. Just because you live in a high profile neigborhood, does not make you exempt from crime because crime does travel. I hope they do find the person who did this, but I also hope that the victim realizes that we do live in a society where there are people who live to hurt others."
And then, there's a report on the crime by online news source Pegasus News, which also tacitly implies that the woman was some how at fault. "Amazingly, the woman drove home to her husband immediately after, who called police," the writer says, again mentioning (the DMN and WFAA also mention this) the cost of the ring, as if begging someone to start talking about it.
It doesn't matter if the ring was $90,000 or $90. It was her wedding ring. It doesn't matter if her necklace was the Hope Diamond or 1/2 off at Claire's. It was a gift from her father. So get up out of this woman's grill about what she was wearing. Unless the robber was a diamond expert at 20 paces away, he had no way of knowing which is which. This woman need not be subjected to blame for wearing beloved jewelry on a routine errand.
And I am not anti-comment. I think I've gone on record enough for everyone to know I'm all for a healthy debate. But it's when people forget that the story is about a person, and that there are people behind every screen, that people decide they're not accountable, and can say any hurtful thing they want.
And there's also the fact that nobody wants to believe that their neighborhood could be unsafe. Nobody wants to believe they're vulnerable to the same crime. So to reassure, we pick apart the victim's actions. "She should have not worn that jewelry," we smugly say. "She should've had her cell phone in her hand," we finger point. "She shouldn't have worn that skirt/shirt/hairstyle," we assert. "She was asking for it," we imply.
But I am going to go on record that, despite self-defense training, I cannot positively say I would act just like the model crime victim in the same situation. I might want to see my husband. I might want to get away from this very scary place. I might be worried that the man who just tried to beat my face in for the necklace my dad gave me on my 21st birthday is still around, and can see me call the police. My fight or flight might just kick in, and I might flee.
I can't say, because it hasn't happened. And I'm certainly not going to judge this lady, nor anyone else. She did the best she could with the responses she had. Maybe a cooler head would've stayed put and called the police right then. Maybe a cooler head would've gone into the store and asked for help afterwards.
But a woman beaten about the face and distraught is not a cooler head. And we need to quit expecting her to be.
Or, for that matter, any victim of a crime.