MAVAW, an acronym to suggest Men Against Violence Against Women, came to me in one of those half-awake flashes in the middle of the night that make you feel you are onto something big. I had been troubled by the news of Eddy Coello, the former Bronx police officer indicted for murder in the disappearance of his wife and mother of their 5-year-old daughter.
Men must stand up against men in this, I thought. Otherwise it will never change. And by the way, if guilty and convicted, this former cop should be sentenced to death - in my opinion.
MAVAW needs to be created, I thought in my moment of midnight clarity, and mobilized to stand up for capital punishment in this arena. Perhaps where emotions run so amok - police are never more at risk than when intervening in domestic disputes - the certainty and finality of capital punishment might accomplish what law and reason cannot. (Do I want to pay taxes to keep Eddy Coello in prison for the rest of his life? No. But I would happily contribute to his daughter's therapy.)
According to reports, the woman had told friends that if anything happened to her, Coello should be the prime suspect, as he had reportedly abused her in the past. He had resigned from the police force after four years amid domestic violence charges involving another wife. There was at least one order of protection against Coello from 2007, and his current (now dead) wife had been seeking to separate from him and had prepared another restraining order against him.
The dynamics of abuse are complex and often involve victims who for various reasons cannot get away from the source of their suffering. How and why this situation persisted to its fatal outcome is something for friends and family of the woman - and her violent husband - to contemplate. It is tragic to consider how the five-year-old daughter will absorb and find ways to live with this horrifying family event. And it remains society's problem.
I happened to be raised by a father who would not tolerate any physical violence toward the one girl in the family, my sister. This rule was strictly enforced against our older brother and me. God help us if we were caught punching, slapping, biting, pinching or doing anything to her of that kind. (My brother once did throw a small stone over a lilac hedge and hit her in the forehead and paid her a dime to keep quiet, the only incident of its kind I was ever aware of.)
It was completely hands off and the message was, real men don't ever abuse women in any way. (In the emotional and psychological realm, my father did not always follow that rule himself, but that is another story.) Women never got hit in our house.
Of course my nocturnal insight was not ahead of reality. MAVAW exists already as an official auxiliary organization of Hubbard House, one of the leading Domestic Violence Shelters in the state of Florida. If you search it online, it and related sites give you statistics and political issues to consider:
- A woman is abused every nine seconds in the United States - imagine how many times it has happened since you began reading this.
- In February, federal lawmakers revealed they do not agree on the severity of this problem or how to approach it. President Obama's budget in fiscal 2012 would increase efforts to stop violence against women and to help victims. Meanwhile, the House of Representatives passed a Continuing Resolution for 2011 that would cut funding for health and safety net programs to help to victims of violence.
Through MAVAW online, I found the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence has a program that refurbishes and sells donated cellphones to underwrite their efforts.
Two of my old phones are on their way - the least I could do in the wake of Mrs. Coello. I also put myself on MAVAW'S mailing list and resolved to speak up more.
Meanwhile, I will note that jailhouse criminals generally hate former cops and additionally have contempt for men who hurt women. So Coello is in a pickle. At least I am glad that he is not comforted, and a justice worthy of his violence may await him behind bars.