A statement from our Executive Director

June 3rd, 2020

At the Mary Byron Project our mission is enhancing justice to end intimate partner violence. The recent killings of African Americans Breonna Taylor and George Floyd by police exemplify where justice needs desperately to be enhanced. Our hearts break with so many people across our nation who are crying out for racial justice, and we cannot stay silent. Instead, we join in demanding change.

We recognize that racial injustice and police brutality exist and have long existed in our country and that both are unacceptable. In direct relation to our mission, we recognize that racial injustice and police brutality make ending intimate partner violence harder.
When a person’s race determines the amount and type of justice they get through the system, there is no justice. Imagine being an African American victim of intimate partner violence whose choices are to continue being a silent victim of intimate partner violence or to turn for protection to a system that you’ve seen not help—and even hurt or kill—African American people. Those choices are hardly choices at all. They are certainly not choices that will end intimate partner violence.

At the Mary Byron Project our goal of enhancing justice to end intimate partner violence includes making justice available, safe, and equal for African Americans.

Make Strangulation a Felony in KY

Written by Mary Byron Project Intern

February 25, 2016: Cedric Ford fatally shot three people and wounded fourteen in Newton and Hesston, Kansas.

June 12, 2016: Omar Mateen, brutally shot and killed 49 people and wounded 53 outside a night club in Orlando, Florida. This is the deadliest mass shooting by a single shooter in US history.

November 5, 2017: Devin Patrick Kelley opened fire at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, killing 26 people and injuring 20 more. This was labeled the fifth-deadliest mass shooting in the US and the deadliest shooting in a place of worship in the US.

Something these men have in common? They all had a history of domestic violence and had previously strangled a wife or girlfriend. Kelley was charged with a misdemeanor after strangling his wife and served one year in prison. Ford was also charged with a misdemeanor after strangling his girlfriend and was only required to attend anger management classes. Mateen had strangled both of his wives, but was never charged for either assault. Had these men been convicted of felony strangulation, is there a chance that one or all of these horrific shootings may not have even had the opportunity to occur?

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Seeking Justice for Victims in Court

Written by: Mary Byron Project Intern

DISCLAIMER: While this article’s focus is on victims of domestic and dating violence, I think it is important to note a serious issue in the discussion of this topic. Too often we lose sight of the problem at hand as we often times ask questions that aren’t truly relevant in combatting the issue of violence against women. Yes, it is important to hear the voices of victims and understand their situations so we can better help them, but often times this can lead to a sense of victim blaming. We tend to ask questions or focus on topics that either directly or indirectly assign blame to the victim. In order to put an end to these crimes, we must assign full responsibility to the perpetrator. While this blog is about understanding a victim’s mentality, the Mary Byron Project’s focus is putting an end to these crimes, and we recognize that this goal revolves around a focus on the perpetrator.

Too many times, there have been cases in which if a protection order had been kept in place, a life could have been saved. This situation is illustrated in the case of Anne Johnson. According to a Huffington Post article, Anne was a victim of domestic violence who had filed for an order of protection against her ex-husband. In the petition, she stated, “I am afraid that without this protective order, Shaun Philip Hardy will continue to hurt me or even kill me in the future.” However, the order was later requested to be dismissed and Johnson reunited with Hardy for the sake of their special needs son. Johnson was later murdered by Hardy, her body found wrapped in dark plastic in their garage.

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