On Tuesday March 8, attendees wore purple ribbons and listened to retired law enforcement officer Kim Plater speak at SMC's main campus quad. Inspired by the fatal abuse case of victim Monica Thomas, officers Plater and Alice Slaughter created the Covina Women's Club Domestic Violence Coalition.
"This cannot happen to another woman ever," said Plater. The coalition includes about 120 members and 40 organizations, and through it they support, educate, and advise victims of abuse speaking about domestic violence to anyone willing to listen.
The theme of the Clothesline Project event was "Is this love?," and it was cosponsored by multiple Santa Monica College organizations such as the Crisis Prevention Team, Psychological Services, Women's Studies faculty and students, and Associated Students.
"I want you to look around here, in your quad, and I want you to understand that as you look around, including the group here in front of me, that one in four of you has been or will be the victim of domestic violence," said Plater.
Plater became a cop back in the 1970's, when women had just started in the field, and worked many domestic violence cases, then called "family fight" cases.
The case of Monica Thomas happened after Plater and Slaughter both had retired and joined the Covina Woman's Club. According to Plater, Thomas, after being kidnapped and abused by her husband Curtis, followed the advice of the retired officers and put Curtis in prison, but she was never notified of his hearing.
The judge handling the case called in sick that day, and notes that warned about the dangers of releasing Curtis were missing from the case's file.
"I just want you to know that it is against the law for a victim not to be notified of a case," said Plater.
Curtis was able to plea to a lesser crime and was set free for 30 days. That, according to Plater, was also against the law when it comes to a two-strike felon.
Curtis used that time to kidnap Thomas again, abuse, rape, torture, and shoot her to death, killing himself after. Plater said that 35 laws and policies were violated, and though some disciplining did take place, they hope to one day push prosecution of judges for mistakes. "We're still working on it, we're not giving up," said Plater.
This tragedy gave birth to their coalition, which now supports women from all over the world, the abused elderly, and female ex-cons who have snapped and killed their husbands as a result of repeated abuse.
Plater gave the audience warning signs of abusive daters, which included possessiveness and stalking, using love as an excuse for their behavior.
"The men in our lives also can be the victims," said Plater, "and it's so much harder for them to disclose."
Plater indicated that hospitals and the police are now being trained to ask the right questions, since often times victims don't identify abuse with the word. She stressed that a victim who admits to having been choked has a high percentage of being killed within a year if there is no intervention.
"The average woman goes back seven times," said Plater. "But you don't give up on them."
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