You would think that a woman who stepped forward to protect herself from an abusive ex-husband would be supported by her community. Tragically, that often isn’t the case. Carie Charlesworth (pictured above) experienced a terrible instance of victim-blaming by the hands of her employers, Holy Trinity School. Her punishment? Losing her job.
How did this gross injustice happen? Charlesworth called the police three times after her violent and abusive ex-husband, Martin Charlesworth, showed up at the school where she teaches, sending the school into lockdown. Luckily, he was arrested and sent to jail. However, the school decided that since her restraining order against him wasn’t effective and he would eventually be released from jail, having her at the school was a threat to the students.
The termination letter from the school stated:
"We know from the most recent incident involving you and Mrs. Wright (the principal) while you were still physically at Holy Trinity School, that the temporary restraining order in effect were not a deterrent to him. Although we understand he is current[ly] incarcerated, we have no way of knowing how long or short a time he will actually serve and we understand from court files that he may be released as early as next fall. In the interest of the safety of the students, faculty and parents at Holy Trinity School, we simply cannot allow you to return to work there, or, unfortunately, at any other school in the Diocese."
Yes, that’s right. Because Carie has an abusive ex-husband, she is a threat to the children at the school. The presence of Martin at the school IS a threat to the children and the facility, but because HE broke the law, Carie is punished for it. Maybe the school should advocate for stronger protection for victims of domestic abuse, or more security for their school instead of punishing and blaming the Carie for Martin’s actions. The stigma of blame on victims prevents many sufferers of all types of harassment and abuse from coming forward, and this certainly doesn’t make anyone feel more secure. The Holy Trinity School should be ashamed of themselves for not standing by their employee and instead trying to find a quick solution rather than protecting one of their own teachers.
Studies show that more than more than one out of every four American women face violence by a partner over their lifetime, and some recent studies have that number at one in three. If we want to start solving the problem, it’s about time we stop blaming the victim.
Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE(7233)
Safe Horizon’s Domestic Violence Hotline: 800.621.HOPE (4673)
Safe Horizon’s Crime Victims Hotline: 866.689.HELP (4357)
Safe Horizon’s Rape, Sexual Assault & Incest Hotline: 212.227.3000
Thanks to: thinkprogress.org