War at Home: Sexual Violence in Orange County

Guest Post by Matt Robinson

Two weeks ago, a student at Chapel Hill High School reported that she had been raped by two fellow students in the woods across the street from her school. Later that same week, an employee at Britthaven nursing home was sexually attacked by a coworker while she was at work. In the background of these attacks looms an unsolved series of rapes and sexual assaults in Carrboro last month, assaults likely the work of one man.

All of this occurred in less than one month, within 4 miles of Chapel Hill’s downtown post office. Five reported attacks on five women in one small part of one small county of one state, in what most would describe as a pretty peaceful town.

But peaceful for whom? Not for the police, who are now investigating five attacks. Not for stunned students, nursing home employees, and women who live alone, fearful for their safety. And the area is certainly not peaceful for the victims and those who love them. For these people, the myth of a peaceful hometown has been shattered, replaced by tears, fears, and horrible memories.

Three New Petitions Regarding LGBT Rights

Follows is a petition I am submitting at the Council's March 22, 2004 meeting. The Chapel Hill News gave front page coverage to the petition this morning.

My hope is that the petition is referred to staff for drafting of the requested code and policy changes, and that the second petition is added to Wednesday's public forum on the Legislative Agenda. Also, I hope that this begins a discussion of these important issues in our community. As Mayor Foy says in the CH News, "the silence in North Carolina is deafening."

Domestic Violence

For the eighth time this decade a man has shot a woman or child in a domestic dispute in Orange County. Hopefully the victim, the girlfriend of Mark Wade Gentry (nephew of the man convicted in three other domestic violence murders), will survive. (She is in critical condition at UNC.) The previous seven died. It seems pointless to wax on about this subject on a forum like OP.org. I say that because I assume that the gentle readers of this site are not the sort of people who do this. Indeed any sort of public outcry seems unlikely to reach that kind of scoundrel.

Still, here's hoping that it does some kind of good somehow. Domestic violence is not some kind of theoretical issue. It is something that is killing real people in our community.

Tragically, domestic violence is something that runs in families. Children grow up in abusive households and begin to think that Daddy hitting Mommy is somehow normal. And these same people think that it is okay when they are adults as well.

Myth or Reality

I have been wondering for some time now how "liberal" Chapel Hill really is. It often seems as if our progressive reputation somehow gives us permission to do things we otherwise would be challenged for (like Nixon going to China).

For example, of all the critical issues addressed by the Town Council the one that I have seen bring the absolute biggest number of passionate protesters to Town Halln was the elimination of back-yard pick up. It was like armageddon would be upon us as soon as we rolled our garbage to the curb. In addition, the continued attempts to whitewash downtown so that suburbanites will feel more comfortable parking their large cars while ignoring the poverty that results from their greed is another prime example.

Finally, this very website has been deluged with postings from readers ranging from Republican to Libertarian. Progressive voices here are few. I suspect this may not be representative of the readership, or maybe I'm just deluded by the myth of a left-leaning community.

Let It Snow?

So the National Weather Service is forecasting an inch overnight and then two to four inches Thursday.

I know most people don't think of me as very Southern, but

  1. I have lived in North Carolina for 22 of my 32 years, and
  2. I HATE snow!

When will this madness end?



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