Opinion | If our own government doesn’t care about domestic violence then why should anyone else?

Christina Popik

“We all could have done better.”

A phrase appropriate for the time your basketball team lost a game because of small, collective mistakes. Or the time your group didn’t make enough time to work on the final project and ended up receiving a bad grade.

But this is not a phrase I want to hear the American government using.

On Thursday, Feb. 9, White House spokesman Raj Shah admittedly said this in describing how the White House handled domestic violence allegations against former White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter.

Senior aides to President Donald Trump as well as the FBI when conducting background checks knew of Porter’s history of domestic violence for months, according to CNN. He did not resign until Wednesday, Feb. 7.

In fact, it came as a bit of a shock as Porter was known around the White House for his “true integrity and honor” as John Kelly, WH chief of staff said. Not to mention, Porter strongly denied allegations on multiple occasions despite the evidence.

During Porter’s background check, his ex-wife Colbie Holderness told the FBI about the abuse and shared images of a black eye he gave her. However, the FBI never denied security clearance after being informed of this. Instead, Porter was on a short-term clearance for the time being.

Holderness said the abuse started as soon as their honeymoon when Porter kicked her during an argument. She endured other forms of physical abuse over the course of their marriage.

“The thing he would do most frequently is he would throw me down on a bed and he would just put his body weight on me and he’d be yelling at me but as he was yelling he’d be grinding an elbow or knee into my body to emphasize his anger,” Holderness said according to CNN.

Holderness says that the photos don’t come close to the reality of what is being described of her situation.

Porter’s second wife Jennifer Willoughby reports a similarly intense relationship, except mainly dealing with emotional abuse.

Willoughby too saw the abuse begin occurring at a concerning level on her honeymoon with Porter.

“He started calling me names, calling me a ‘f—-ing bitch,’ how I behaved was ‘f—-ing ridiculous’ and most of that was instigated around my not having sex with him often enough on our honeymoon.”

On Feb. 10, Donald Trump chimed in about the conflict with a tweet.

“People’s lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation,” Trump tweeted. “Some are true and some are false. Some are old and some are new. There is no recovery for someone falsely accused–life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?”

A mere allegation.

How about an allegation with sufficient proof from various sources to support it, followed by shady acts of the government?

I believe in due process but if people are so concerned about it then it should have been brought up as soon as the FBI and White House aides became aware months ago instead of sweeping it under the rug.

But I suppose we can’t be entirely surprised that people of power are trying to hide the wrongdoings of their colleagues. We’ve all seen it or been in a similar position before. But the reality is, lives are greatly affected by abuse and in cases like that, doing the right thing trumps loyalty.

Every minute, 20 people are victims of intimate partner violence, according to Huffpost.

It is a serious issue that has become an epidemic throughout our nation as one in four women will be victims of partner violence in their lifetime.

The unfortunate part is that oftentimes abuse starts once commitment has taken place, such as marriage in Rob Porter’s relationships. By then, women likely feel trapped and as if they have to stay in the relationship because they just committed to something long-term.

People from the outside make victims feel good about their relationship based how it appears on social media or in person, which causes abused women to overlook the struggles not seen by everyone else.

We can’t keep pretending that the things that people do behind closed doors are not a reflection of who they are.

The circumstances of this particular case is proof that survivors of domestic abuse are speaking up. They are not being listened to by people who care to make a difference.

The scope of the problem is an issue in itself but what is more disappointing than anything is that our own government isn’t doing a thing to manage it…that is until the public finds out.

If we can’t trust our government then who can we trust to set a good example?

To all the survivors of domestic violence who don’t know if they should report their case: do it anyway. I am a firm believer that the truth will always come out one way or another.