Slaying shows only the tip of horrific iceberg


A newspaper is always a collection of incongruities and coincidences, the bizarre next to the mundane, the loathsome next to the sublime.

Rarely are those contradictions and connections as apparent as Sunday’s Sun Journal.

Dominating the front page was a warm photo of mothers dancing with their young sons at the first Mother-Son ball at the Kora Shrine Temple in Lewiston, a fundraiser for the Dempsey Center at Central Maine Medical Center.

At the top right-hand corner of the page appeared an old black-and-white photo of a mother, father and baby, referring readers to a touching column by staff writer Bonnie Washuk recalling her family’s love for their now deceased mother.

Then the largest headline on the page: Turner woman killed; Husband charged Saturday in wife’s fatal shooting.

The story fit the all-too-familiar pattern: Police responding to an early-morning 911 call find 38-year-old Jane Tetreault shot to death at the East Hebron Road home she shared with her husband and two teenage sons.

Her husband, 45-year-old Brian Nichols, was stopped a short distance away, questioned and arrested. By mid-afternoon Saturday he had confessed to the crime and was charged with murder.

On the Maine-section cover of the paper appeared a somber photo of two women with umbrellas crossing the Lewiston-Auburn railroad trestle, participants in the annual Walk to End Domestic Violence on Saturday.

Money raised by the event is used to provide services to domestic violence victims in the tri-county area.

And, the final sad coincidence — it all appeared in the Mother’s Day newspaper.

On average in this country, three women and one man are murdered by their intimate partner each day, according to the Domestic Violence Resource Center.

That’s about 1,200 to 1,400 women per year, and between 400 and 500 men.

In about 80 percent of domestic-violence murders, there is evidence of previous abuse.

Which, of course, means the final, fateful act of homicide is simply the tip of the domestic violence iceberg, much of which remains either unreported or only seen by police officers, hospital workers and mental health counselors.

One fourth of women will be the victim of domestic violence at some point in their life, and most cases will go unreported.

And while men are victims of domestic violence, or involved in mutual brawls with a spouse, women are far more likely to be injured, hospitalized or slain.

Worse, domestic violence is learned behavior. Children who witness domestic violence growing up are far more likely to repeat the crime as grownups.

Sunday, happy families across the region jammed area restaurants to celebrate the mothers and grandmothers in their lives.

They received cards and flowers from the men in their lives, attesting to their love and loyalty, honoring them for being their mother or the mother of their children.

Perhaps there should also be a card for respect, a card recognizing that a marriage is a partnership, not the domination by fear or intimidation of one partner over the other.

As Sunday’s slaying showed, marriage can be a dangerous prison where mothers are neither loved, honored nor respected.

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