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Politics PopWrapped | Politics

An Open Letter To Sarah Palin About Domestic Abuse And Mental Illness

Ashley Perna | PopWrapped Author

Ashley Perna

01/23/2016 6:56 am
PopWrapped | Politics
An Open Letter To Sarah Palin About Domestic Abuse And Mental Illness | Palin
Media Courtesy of Jezebel

Dear Ms. Palin,

You recently spoke about the arrest of your son, Track, for domestic violence. My understanding is that your comments blamed post-traumatic stress disorder and President Obama for your son’s behaviour.

As a mom, I completely understand your drive to defend her son in the face of appalling behvaviour – no one wants to think that the child they raised is anything less than perfect. But assault isn’t a minor indiscretion that you can just brush off. Of course a good mother would want to defend her son, but good parenting also involves instilling a sense of responsibility in your children. Alleging that other factors, such as mental illness, were the cause or blaming other people, such as the President, doesn’t teach responsibility but instead how to try to “get away” with appalling behaviour in the future. It also reinforces dangerous stereotypes about the mentally ill, while continuing to put the blame for domestic abuse on anyone aside from the perpetrator.

To be clear, domestic violence is the fault of the *abuser*, not the victim, not built up resentment, not society, not workplace pressures, not household chores, not mental illness, and certainly not the President. Abusers abuse because in that moment, they feel it is the best course of action to take, not because the President isn’t considering their potential mental illness. The only way an abuser will stop is to recognize that their actions are abusive and to seek and receive effective treatment. This cannot happen when we allow abusers to blame external factors for their abusive ways.

I noticed that the victim’s feelings, the potential trauma your son’s victim may have felt over the incident, were not mentioned in your speech. I hope that you are concerned for her mental well being, for the possibility of her being traumatized by this incident. Personally, I can’t even imagine how frightening and horrifying that incident must have been for her. Hearing you excuse that behaviour, quite frankly in a ridiculous manner, couldn’t have been easy for her. I wonder if the horrible manner in which victims of domestic violence tend to be treated will be a passionate topic in your next speech.

As someone who has suffered from mental illness for most of my life, I do hope that you have sought treatment for your son's PTSD before using it as a convenient way to excuse domestic abuse. PTSD is indeed a serious disorder, and should be taken extremely seriously. I strongly encourage you to seek out informative resources about mental illness, and the harm that comes from perpetuating dangerous stereotypes about those disorders. If this incident was in fact due to mental illness, it’s far more damaging to both your son, not to mention unbelievably re-traumatizing for his victim, to trot this story out on the campaign trail in an attempt to lay the blame at President Obama’s feet.

I hope you reconsider your statements, and that you do seek treatment for your son’s abusive behaviours as well as considering the effect those behaviours have on his victim. As someone in the public eye, you should know better. If you are simply unaware of the effects domestic violence has on the victim, and on society as a whole, please look into the National Domestic Violence Hotline’s webpage where you can find many resources to further your education.


Ashley Perna


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