Target: Ascension Parish Sheriff Jeff Wiley
Goal: Repudiate sheriff for saying that a murdered woman should have had a firearm to protect herself from her abuser.
A parish sheriff has come under fire for publicly telling women to buy and learn to use firearms to protect themselves from abusive men in response to an incident in which one man allegedly beat his ex-wife to death with a baseball bat. He said this in spite of the fact that women who have firearms in their homes are more likely to be killed by abusive men and the fact that women who kill, harm, or merely threaten these men in self-defense are likely to be sent to jail for many years.
Ascension Parish Sheriff Jeff Wiley told a local TV station that abused women should “learn how to safely handle a weapon, learn how to safely store a weapon, and when you’re in a situation like this shoot him in your back yard before he gets in your house.” This is poor advice considering the fact that one Marissa Alexander let off a simple warning shot that hurt no one to deter her abusive husband from killing her and was sentenced to 20 years in prison for it.
All that Wiley’s statement does is blame abused women for their own abuse, even when they’re murdered, instead of keeping the blame right where it belongs–on the abuser. Women shouldn’t have to obtain and use firearms in order to avoid being murdered by men, even if that was a viable option. Claiming otherwise takes all responsibility off of the men who commit violence against women and puts it on the abused and the dead.
Sheriff Jeff Wiley needs to know that this kind of thinking will not be tolerated from a public servant. Sign our petition to directly denounce his victim-blaming, abuser-protecting statement.
Dear Sheriff Wiley,
Recently, you told a local TV station in response to the murder of Monica Butler Johnson by her abusive ex-husband that women should obtain and learn to use firearms in order to protect themselves before their abusers can reach them. This statement is problematic for a number of reasons and never should have been uttered by a public servant such as yourself who is tasked with protecting your community.
Owning guns does not protect women–multiple scientific studies have shown that having a gun in the home only puts women at greater risk of physical harm and death from abusers and attackers. Furthermore, women who do use guns in self-defense risk being thrown in jail for doing so. Marissa Alexander, for example, was originally sentenced to 20 years for firing a warning shot from her legal and licensed firearm to scare off her abuser.
All you’ve done is essentially lay the blame on Johnson for her own murder, and by extension blamed all victims of abuse for what they’ve suffered. Women should not have to fight for their lives. Men need to stop abusing them. The only way that can begin to happen is if we all agree that 100 percent of the responsibility for abuse lies with the abuser.
Your statement joins with the general victim-blaming sentiment of our society that makes life all the more difficult and dangerous for abused persons. We demand that you immediately retract and apologize for your words about Ms. Johnson.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade