Mother’s Day isn’t a day of gladness and reunion for everyone.
For example, it’s a day of sadness for those who have recently lost mothers, a sad day for those women who want to be mothers but cannot bear children, a day of regret for those mothers who mistreated their kids and wish they could live their lives over again, a day of painful memories for those who chose abortion and now wish they hadn’t.
But today, I want to focus on an even smaller group of women. Some of them are mothers. Some perhaps would have been mothers under different circumstances. They’re in prison for killing or seriously injuring their spouse or significant other, a deadly climax to years of violence and abuse.
I’m especially mindful of that, in the quiet of my office on this Mother’s Day morning, because I have two friends who the state has determined should spend the rest of their lives behind bars. These women are not hardened criminals. They don’t have a history of violence and illegal activity. To the contrary, they are well-educated and could be considered professional in their fields.
Here’s a typical scenario that puts a woman like this in a prison cell and leaves her there. She lives with a husband who, to the public, may look like a pillar of the community, but in private abuses his wife, both physically and emotionally. She is shamed by this, hides it from her friends, takes much of the blame for this fearing that she is the problem in this relationship, and she even comes to his defense if authorities step in, because she might not have place to go and perhaps has no means of support if he were to be arrested. And so the situation continues and ferments until there’s a breaking point…when she cannot take it anymore, and cares not about the consequences. She takes things into her own hands and brings an end to this abuse.
Prosecutors can be quick to call this first degree murder, claiming it was premeditated. In many cases, jurors haven’t been allowed to hear about the years of domestic violence that preceded this heinous act. And if there’s a conviction on first degree, there’s an automatic sentence of life without parole.
I should point out a couple of things.
Number one, statistics show that women who kill men receive significantly higher sentences than men who kill women. And number two, approximately 90% of women who kill men are victims of abuse.
There’s no quick answer here. HFP is partnering with some other professionals on a project that will shed more light on the subject, and offer alternatives, especially to prison sentences.
But for now, on this Mother’s Day, 2016, I simply want to suggest that we keep all victims of domestic abuse, both inside and outside of prison, in our prayers. On a personal level, to my friends, Ms. L and Ms. N, I want you to know that you are in my prayers. This all began last night, as I listened to Lynda Randle remind me, in song, that the God of the mountain is still God in the valley. May you experience his peace today.
I’m offering my prayer in the name of Jesus, who not only showed love and tenderness toward his own mother, but who loves them all…especially those in prison.