The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Opinion

December 10, 2012

Carol Stark: Shooting death calls for community stand against domestic violence

The shooting death of Joplin’s Monica Webb is something I can’t dismiss.

Nor should this community.

On Dec. 1, when the nation was in shock after Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher fatally shot his girlfriend then himself, I was thinking of Monica.

Domestic violence touches us at all levels, leaving us feeling helpless as to how to stop this epidemic that’s robbing us of the lives of children, mothers, fathers and even grandparents.

Monica Webb, 36, the mother of three, was allegedly shot Nov. 17 by her estranged husband, who then tried to end his own life.

The case has raised many questions about the legal system’s ability to safeguard domestic-abuse victims who seek the protection of police and their local courts.

Monica Webb reported that Rondias Webb, 35, violated a protection order Nov. 4 when he approached her in a bar and informed her that he knew where she had moved to get away from him. That report was made less than two weeks before she was shot and killed inside her new home. The alleged violation led to the mailing of a summons and not the issuance of an arrest warrant.

Now, Rondias Webb is facing murder charges.

Some believe Monica’s case wasn’t taken seriously enough by the legal system. Those representing the legal system say speculating about whether an arrest would have prevented the tragedy is a reach.

Finger pointing won’t bring Monica back, but her death has presented us with an opportunity to examine what each of us can do better to stop domestic violence.

It should also prompt law enforcement, prosecutors and judges to take stock of policies and laws to see what changes should be made.

Joplin, in 1980, took a stand against abuse. The result was Lafayette House, a shelter for children and women and a source of help for all — no matter the gender — who are victims of domestic abuse.

We recognized that there was a very real problem, and by putting our dollars and efforts behind Lafayette House, we have given victims of abuse access to trained staff and an abundance of resources.

Alison Malinowski Sunday, executive director of Lafayette House, talked with me on Thursday about the Monica Webb case.

“An order of protection is a piece of paper,” she said. “It will never stop a bullet, a knife or a fist.”

Sunday is calling on the community to take a stand again in the fight to end domestic violence.

“First of all, it is not the victim who is at fault. We need to end those types of ideas,” she said.

Hitting spouses or children is not acceptable, Sunday said, and that has to be the message of the community.

Sunday said as a community we all have to let it be known there is a standard of personal accountability.

“We have to help our children learn how to resolve problems. We are talking about social change. It doesn’t happen overnight. All of us are feeling the terrible loss now, but Monica Webb is just one of thousands of incidents. In her case, domestic violence resulted in a lethal ending,” Sunday said.

Friends of Monica who want her to be known as far more than a “victim” have described her as a wonderful person, friend and mother. They say she was a hard worker — she was working two jobs at the time of her death.

Sunday said it is part of her role to continue to ask questions.

“We must constantly be asking ourselves if we did enough. Could we have prevented the outcome. We as well as the prosecutor, law enforcement and judges must all be looking at our procedures,” she told me.

Like me, Sunday believes that every part of the system must be challenged to do its job better.

Where can you start?

If you want more information about ways to recognize signs of domestic abuse or if you know someone who needs help, call 417-782-1772 or 800-416-1772 anytime day or night.

Monica Webb was seeking a fresh start, a new beginning. She did all that she could and it wasn’t enough.

Somewhere out there are others trying to do the same thing.

Let’s take that stand.

Carol Stark is editor of The Joplin Globe. Address correspondence to her, c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802 or email cstark@joplinglobe.com. Follow Carol Stark on Twitter @carolstark30.

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