If you are from Kansas City, you know the story….the story of Amber Taylor and Austin McCauley.
Amber and Austin were living in a motel with Amber’s 4-year-old. Amber gets a text from another man one morning. Austin finds out about it. That night he beats her with a bat over the head. Amber has a towel wrapped around her head with blood all over the bathroom. Amber ends up in the hospital. While in the hospital, she figures out she has Austin’s phone in her pocket. She logs onto Austin’s Facebook and posts a picture of her battered self on his Facebook page to show Austin’s friends what he did to her.
The picture goes viral.
Amber ends up doing media interviews and becoming “the face of domestic violence”.
Fast forward to Austin’s court date. Austin ends up in court and Austin pleads not guilty. He says she hit herself with the bat. We all find out that Amber has been visiting Austin in jail and has confessed her love for Austin again.
My reaction: SHIT! Why Amber? Why did you do this to me? I was so invested in you. I believed you. When you said on the radio you would never go back, I believed you. I believed that this time you were going to leave him. This time would be different. You said all the right things to me. You were such a good role model for women in domestic violence relationships. I feel so let down. This is why people don’t believe victims when they say they are going to leave.
Oh wait, we aren’t in a relationship.
Why do I feel so let down?
I blame social media.
Before Facebook I wouldn’t even know about Amber. Maybe I would have caught the story on the nightly news, but then 3 minutes later she would have been gone from my life. It is only because of Facebook that I became so invested. You could argue this is a good thing, because it highlights the issue of domestic violence, but also a bad thing if you think about people getting victim fatigue when it comes to the mentality of “Why help? They are only going to go back.” Remember, it takes the average women 7 times before she leaves a domestic violence relationship. Amber isn’t any different.
Because of Facebook, we all love being part of a social movement. Think about it: ”click like if you (insert issue, cute picture). I’ve learned to pass these things up, but think of all of the thousands of times people click like every day. We all want to be part of the collective good. We all want those kids to get the puppy. We all want that soldier to feel loved, or that kid to feel beautiful. We are constantly finding ways on Facebook to feel invested. We all became invested in Amber’s story and now there is admitted disappointment in the outcome no matter what the judgement is in the courtroom.
Amber posted her pictures on Austin’s Facebook account to GET BACK AT AUSTIN. She did not do it to become the face of domestic violence. Big difference here. We made her the face and voice of domestic violence. This is obviously a position she wasn’t ready for and couldn’t handle. We (meaning the public) were bound for disappointment when we forced this woman into this role. We wanted a triumphant outcome. We wanted the Lifetime Movie.
Why did Amber go back or think about going back (I can’t confirm she went back)?
Probably some of the reasons from Austin:
- I love you.
- I’ll never do this again.
- I’ve learned my lesson now that I’m in jail.
- You made me do this to you since you got those text messages.
- If you would have just listened to me, this wouldn’t have happened.
She may be thinking:
- If I wouldn’t have texted that guy, this wouldn’t have happened to me.
- I always push Austin’s buttons. If I would learned to keep my mouth shut, this wouldn’t happen.
- Who is going to date me now that they saw what I did to Austin on Facebook?
- He must really love me if he is willing to forgive me for what I did to him on Facebook.
- I think if he ever gets out of jail, he is going to kill me. I need to get back with him to save my life.
To judge her and say “if it was me, I would never go back” is to not really understand the vicious cycle of domestic violence.
I’ll get over my disappointment, but I worry about her safety and I hope that she will be o.k. If you or someone you know is in a domestic violence relationship please call 913-262-2868.