Groups concerned with domestic violence are staging a rally Monday in White Plains to express outrage at the “victim blaming” since Tuesday's Friedlander triple murder-suicide; and to offer support to victims who have not yet found a way to reach out for help.
Sam Friedlander, 50, bludgeoned his wife Amy, 46, to death with a broken piece of furniture and —Gregory, 8, and Molly, 10—with a 12-gauge shotgun before turning the weapon on himself in their Cross River, NY home.
The rally begins at noon in front of the Westchester County Courthouse, 111 Dr. Martin Luther King Blvd. That's also the location of the Family Justice Center, opened in 2010 by 12 agencies and staffed with people who can help victims with counseling, safety plans, legal advice, spiritual support, shelter and assistance.
"Beyond calling attention to the public perception of what it means to be a victim of domestic violence we also want victims to know that services are available for them," said CarLa Horton, director of the Hope's Door shelter. "We mostly want to just show support to victims."
Horton said the organizers' outrage was fanned by comments in or on online news reports, such as a comment in an early version of a Daily News story, (since removed from the newspaper's own version on its Web site) in which a friend of Sam Friedlander's said he would have taken Sam "a file in a cake" for killing his wife. Many have demonized Amy Friedlander, or supported the "she had it coming" defense of most domestic abusers, Horton said.
"People don't get the idea that you can have a very public face and a very private face and that the behaviors can be diametrically opposite," she said. Abusers are often described as church-going, well-dressed, community-active—as if that can stop them being horrible fathers and husbands.
It's also a sad rally.
The Family Justice Center does danger assessments that identify risk factors for domestic violence homicides, that also go into intensive safety planning.
"Maybe we could have helped to save her, save the lives of her two children," Horton said. "We need to find the other Amy Friedlanders."
October is . "We want people to know, please don't suffer through this at home alone, find the strength to make a call, break the silence."
Horton also had advice for friends of domestic abuse victims.
Victims may not want to call the police. Only 39 percent have ever made a police report, but 49 percent will tell you they've been strangled.
Don't just say "you should leave."
"We train people how to intervene safely with a friend. We know leaving is the most serious time. "Elizabeth Butler was killed at 17—she broke up with that boy and he left her body for her family to find," Horton said. "What we say to friends is bring in an expert, who knows the warning signs, the safety planning."
The Friedlander tragedy in Cross River, NY is just a horror, she said.
"And the fact that people spend time blaming her...I know what caused it—absolute rage, oppression and brutality," Horton said. "I call this a mass murder. If this were not an intimate partner or wife, we would treat it so differently. if he had walked into McDonalds and killed three people we would see it so much more clearly."