Lisa Linsky has story after story of abuse, suffering and horrible sadness.
There's the 13-month-old boy who died after being left alone in his crib with no food or water for a week. The infant whose mother's boyfriend shook him so violently he suffered brain damage and died. A little boy sodomized by his nanny, a man the court had forbidden from working with children.As assistant district attorney for Westchester County, New York, Linsky has seen the horrors of violence and prosecuted those at fault. On Thursday, she told Utah prosecutors, advocates and law enforcement officials what her boss once told her: These victims, these survivors, deserve your best work. They deserve more than is required in your job description. They deserve your heart.
Linsky, the keynote speaker for the 11th annual Utah Victims' Conference, said violence and abuse are not recent phenomenons. Roman law didn't protect women. Neither did English law, though it did restrict both the size of the stick a man could use to beat his wife - no thicker than the man's thumb - and the hours, as not to cause a public disturbance.
It wasn't until 1977 in New York that a criminal court heard a family matter, Linsky said.
Still, a woman is abused every nine seconds in the United States. Four women each day die at the hands of their partners. In Westchester County, Linsky has prosecuted men from all walks of life, including doctors, lawyers and police officers. Men are abused, too, but the numbers are much smaller, she said.
When between 2 million and 4 million women are battered in the United States every year, Linsky says it's not hard to see this is not just a family but a community problem.
Those in law enforcement have to stay on top of technology, Linsky said. The computer has become a successful tool for pedophiles to find one another and their young victims.
"Because these victims come to us for help, we must be on the cutting edge," she said.
Workplaces need to be made more safe for women who have been abused and whose abusers may try to hurt them at work. Communities need more shelters for abused women and children. States need to pass laws that protect victims of domestic violence and train police officers and others who work with victims. Abusers need to be tried in the court of public opinion. Elected officials, especially judges, must be accountable and conscious of the problem.
No one can rest, Linsky said, or violence in this country will not end.