Our beloved community suffered a terrible blow last week, with the stunning murder of Marjeane Easley by her husband, Thomas — who then turned the gun on himself.
Such a vile and senseless spasm of violence is shocking, frightening, demoralizing.
But one thing it’s not: It’s not surprising.
In truth, we’ve been playing Russian roulette for years now — as the incidence of domestic violence has risen inexorably. Domestic violence remains the single most common violent crime by far in this — or any other — community. Arrests for domestic violence have risen 138 percent since 2007, while almost every other category of major crime has fallen. Perhaps one-third of women at sometime in their lives will suffer this terrifyingly intimate violence.
The troubled, deteriorating relationship of this tragic couple remains agonizingly typical. Every day in our precious community, women must pick their way along the edge of this precipice — often in silence and in secret.
Even as we grope for answers — and solutions — we must make some things searingly clear.
Nothing can excuse or mitigate such senseless, brutal, cowardly violence. People study the divorce papers, listen to rumors, recount fragments of conversation, speculate on what she did to make him so crazy.
Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. She did nothing to call down on herself this merciless vengeance. We must first and foremost stop blaming the victim. Yet in every crime against women, by some sickly reflex far too many of us wonder, “What did she do?”
Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Thomas Easley surrendered any claim he had to understanding or consideration or forgiveness when he yielded to rage and despair and to his sick, malignant need to control the woman he professed to love.
But what can we do?
Everything — anything — without ceasing.
Friends and family members say she sought escape from an increasingly frightening relationship. She didn’t tell many people. She didn’t seek a restraining order. She thought she could handle it. She told a sibling that it’s when women get a restraining order that they trigger that final deadly rage.
So we must all pay attention — and bear witness. We must listen to those whispered pleas for help. We must insist that police get adequate training — and intervene before the call goes out for the coroner. We must provide services and help for women and children seeking an escape from this intimate terror. That starts with adequately funding the Time Out Shelter. But it must also include adequate funding for Child Protective Services, fast-tracking court intervention when women face threats, providing drug and alcohol counseling, providing counseling for the batterers trapped in their dungeon of fear and rage. We must reconsider the laws that allow open, easy access to firearms — even for people who have made threats.
Above all, we must clearly express the disdain and loathing of this community for anyone who would use or threaten violence in the name of love.