By ROBERT JUMPER
ONE FEATHER EDITOR
Iwas reading The Mountaineer, the Haywood County-based newspaper this weekend. The headline for the paper was titled, “Man indicted in 2019 infant homicide”. According to a report written by Kyle Perrotti of The Mountaineer, “On July 18, 2019, Haywood County paramedics responded to a cardiac arrest call in the Jonathan Creek area. They rushed Chloe (Evans) to the hospital, but it wasn’t long before she passed away. Not long after, the Haywood County Sheriff’s Office put out a news release stating that the death was determined to be a homicide.”
The report goes on to say that Dylan Brian Green, boyfriend of the mother, was indicted last week by a grand jury on a first-degree murder charge in relation to the death. Of the child, the indictment states, “The injuries consisted of multiple blunt force injuries of varying ages and degrees to the child’s head, face, ears, torso, back, arms, chin, neck, torso, back, arms, and legs, as the case may be, and such injuries included rib, leg, and arm fractures of varying ages, bruises, abrasions, multiple recent skull fractures, internal bleeding of the child’s head, brain, and eyes, a burn or burns of the skin, a human bite mark, a wound consistent with strangulation by a ligature upon the neck, and the presence of isopropanol and/or methamphetamine in the child’s body.”
Not all incidents of domestic violence result in such a tragic outcome, but all domestic violence results in tragedy for those involved. It seems like we just experienced Domestic Violence Month, yet it is October once again, and it is time to take another focused look at this problem that deserves our year-round attention.
The words from The Mountaineer report are jarring. We don’t think of children in this way. Children are those members of our community that are innocent and sacred. Hugs, not hits. Sweetness, not strangulation. Love, not ligatures. We relegate scenes like the one from the report to nightmares and horror stories. But, little Chloe’s torturous death is all too real. And, just as real, someone took her life in a most brutal way. And, according to the most recent reports, the someone who took her life was someone from or invited to her home.
Chloe is not alone in her fate. The National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS) says in 2018, states reported a total of 1,738 child fatalities “caused by an injury resulting from abuse or neglect or where abuse or neglect was a contributing factor.” This was an increase over previous years. The number comes home when you realize that the number means that during that year, nearly five children died every day of 2018 from abuse or neglect.
And the pain, suffering, and death are not limited to the young. “Approximately four out of every ten non-Hispanic Black women (43.7 percent), four out of every ten American Indian or Alaska Native women (46 percent), and 1 in 2 multiracial non-Hispanic women (53.8 percent) have been the victim of rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime. These rates are 30 percent to 50 percent higher than those experienced by Hispanic, White non-Hispanic women and Asian and Pacific non-Hispanic women.” (www.domesticshelters.org)
In the Tribe’s jail report and court dockets, we routinely see people charged with “child abuse”, “assault on a female”, “simple affray”, “assault with a deadly weapon”, “assault inflicting serious bodily injury”, assault by pointing a gun”, “homicide in the second degree”, “elder abuse and neglect”, “communicating threats”, “contributing to the delinquency of a minor”, “assault on a child”, and “reckless endangerment” . The ages of victims and survivors range from infants to elders. The alleged perpetrators age from teenagers to senior citizens.
The domestic violence might begin with a common argument or disagreement. Like road rage, a victim might do or say something to a family member without thinking that it would escalate to physical violence. Sometimes, attacks are the result of substance abuse. It can be belittling, name calling, threatening. It can be leaving someone to go hungry or without drink. It can be stealing their money or their things to sell for money. It could be walking away from someone, young or old, who cannot take care of themselves. And it could be grabbing, squeezing, hitting, kicking, stabbing, strangling, and shooting.
The fact that we must have a month of awareness every year should tell us how critical it is for us to not only be aware but be involved in making solutions. Funding not only needs to be available for victim and survivor rehabilitation, but research and programs for offenders must be allocated and used to change the mindset of the perpetrators. Heavy fines and prison time is right and just for the abusers, but for the survivors and society, these perpetrators must be rehabilitated as well. or else we risk those convicted being release back into our communities only to go back to the abusive behavior that cost families their lives to begin with.
And, as always, we must watch for the signs of domestic violence in our community and report it to the authorities. We must quit treating domestic violence as an “out of sight, out of mind” situation. When you hear the screams and breaking furniture next door, closing your window doesn’t deal with the problem. It makes you complicit.
Those who are being abused have names and faces. They may be strangers, or they may be someone very close to you. It could be a neighbor. It could be a family member. It could be an innocent baby named Chloe.
And, if you are in a domestic violence situation, seek the help of Cherokee’s Domestic Violence program or the similar programs in the communities where you live. These facilities will work with you to give you the tools you need to break away from your abuser, including safe and confidential shelter, and access to legal support. If you are being abused, remember that the definition of insanity is staying in the same situation expecting a different or better outcome. Seek out and get the help you need. You don’t deserve abuse. Take your life back.
Thank you to Kyle Perroti and The Mountaineer for a very informative article in their Sunday, Oct. 11, 2020 edition. And my sincere condolences to the family of Chloe Evans. I pray for your peace and justice for you and the many other family members who face days without loved ones due to domestic violence situations.