Cape Coral, Florida Mayor Marni Sawicki is bravely speaking out after her ex-husband was arrested for allegedly physically assaulting her last week. The incident took place at Miami Beach’s Fontainebleau Hotel, where Sawicki was attending the United States Conference of Mayors.
"If it can happen at a very high-profile mayors conference, it’s happening to millions every day," Sawicki told News-Press.com.
The police report had initially redacted Sawicki's name, but she chose to come forward and disclose that she was the alleged victim in the case. "I refuse to be ashamed of it," she told News-Press.com. "I will not let people shame me into not doing my job or [saying] that this is my fault."
Sawicki's former husband, Kenneth D. Retzer, was arrested and charged with domestic violence, according to People. He was released on bond on Tuesday. Sawicki said she is committed to pressing charges this time, and will be pursuing a restraining order. She told News-Press.com that she has dropped back or not fully cooperated with police investigations in the past, explaining, "It's very common victim behavior. ... [but t]his time is different."
Many victims of domestic violence do drop charges or restraining orders. One study found that while it's commonly believed that they do so due to threats from the perpetrator, that's actually not usually the case.
"Perpetrators are not threatening the victim, but are using more sophisticated emotional appeals designed to minimize their actions and gain the sympathy of the victim," Amy Bonomi, lead author of the study and associate professor of human development and family science at Ohio State University, told Reuters.
It's also not uncommon for victims to recant allegations, which just speaks to how tricky and complex the dynamics of power and control in abusive relationships can be.
"You can't blame someone for not coming forward or recanting their claims," Bryan Pacheco, a spokesperson for Safe Horizon, a domestic abuse survivor assistance organization, told Refinery29 earlier this year. "Survivors have to think about their immediate safety, and if that's to recant, we have to react with understanding and support, because we don't know their unique situation."
Following the incident, Sawicki said she is "finding strength," and is receiving counseling and support. She has also expressed a commitment to pursuing legislation and services to support victims of domestic violence.
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