A Portrait of Domestic Violence: Can You Find the Truly Innocent Victim?

by W.F. Price on February 28, 2013

A photographer named Naomi Lewkowitz posted a montage of painful photos on TIME magazine depicting what life is often like with a single mother. In it, a young wife with two children has left her husband to shack up with an ex-con with very poor impulse control (who’d guess?).

Amazingly, the photographer apparently expected it to be a touching story about the difficulties faced by ex-cons, and how an oppressive society conspires against the poor, misunderstood thugs. It starts with Ms. Lewkowitz asking to take the man’s picture, so it wouldn’t surprise me if she found him to be somewhat alluring herself.

I had met Shane and Maggie two-and-a-half months before. Southeastern Ohio was still warm that time of year and brimming with small regional festivals. I had gone to the Millersport Sweet Corn Festival to shoot my first assignment for an editorial photography class. Almost immediately, I spotted a man covered in tattoos, including an enormous piece on his neck that read, “Maggie Mae.” He was holding a beautiful little girl with blonde curls. His gentle manner with her belied his intimidating ink, and I approached them to ask if I could take their portrait.

I ended up spending my entire time at the fair with Shane, 31, and his girlfriend Maggie, 19. Maggie’s two children, Kayden, four, and Memphis, nearly two, were not Shane’s, but from her then-estranged husband.

Shane and Maggie had started dating a month prior to meeting me, and Shane told me about his struggles with addiction and that he had spent much of his life in prison. Maggie shared her experience losing her mother to a drug overdose at the age of eight, and having the challenges of raising two small children alone while their father, who was in the Army, was stationed in Afghanistan. Before they drove home, I asked if I could continue to document them, and they agreed.

I intended to paint a portrait of the catch-22 of being a released ex-convict: even though they are physically free, the metaphorical prison of stigma doesn’t allow them to truly escape. That story changed dramatically one night, after a visit to a bar.

Unsurprisingly, Shane and Maggie’s relationship rapidly devolves into combat, and Lewkowitz manages to catch some of it on film. The photos were not easy for me to look at, but not for the reasons most people might assume when they hear the term “domestic violence.”

The automatic assumption is that the primary victim is the battered female, but when you take a look at the facts of the case that gives way to another perspective: not only did the woman knowingly place herself in a risky situation, she did the same to her children, who had no choice in the matter.

There’s one photo of the thug (I can hardly think of words that would describe my contempt for a piece of shit like him) pushing little four-year-old Kayden around. As a father, there is nothing worse than knowing you are helpless to protect your son from these kinds of animals when his mother decides she wants some hot badboy action. And just as bad is to think of the potential problems when your daughter starts to look like a woman some years down the road. To top it all off, the kids’ father is paying close to half of his take-home pay so that the criminal can enjoy a nice wide-screen TV (featured prominently in one photo) while he shoves his kids around.

Now, as for the mother’s partial responsibility for this mess, it’s pretty clear. She chose an ex-con, she apparently left her husband while he was deployed (very common — in both senses of the word), and she did it for kicks. Yes, that’s right: she was in it for the action, and she says as much herself.

“Shane was like a fast car. When you’re driving it, you think ‘I might get pulled over and get a ticket.’ You never think that you’re going to crash.”

It’s a surprisingly honest statement of guilt, although I doubt she feels any herself. However, she does at least provide us with an idea of the paternal equivalent of that level of stupidity and recklessness: what she did is akin to a father developing a habit of getting drunk and taking his kids for joy rides on mountain logging roads. Of all involved in the story, I have less sympathy for the mother than anyone but the ex-con she shacked up with. Certainly the kids would top my list, and then their father, who will have to live in constant fear for his children as long as their mother has custody of them. Even the photographer is a more sympathetic character; at least she was neutral and helped put the boyfriend away for a long time. If she hadn’t been involved, there’s a good chance it would have dragged on a lot longer.

As a mother, Maggie was negligent, but will that affect her custody of her children? Not a chance. She’s a higher level of victim than the toddlers she brought into the situation. The photographer indicates as much herself, and shows not a trace of concern about the fact that she’ll keep custody of the kids whether she stays with their father or not:

I have continued to follow Maggie since the abuse, and I’ve also begun working closely with photographer Donna Ferrato, who first began documenting domestic violence 30 years ago.

Since that November night, Maggie has moved to Alaska to be with the father of her two children, who is stationed in Anchorage. In March, I will travel to Alaska to document Maggie as she tries to put the pieces of her family and life back together. My goal is to examine the long-term effects of this incident on her current relationship, her children, and her own sense of self. Devoted to revealing these hidden stories of domestic abuse, Maggie asked me to move forward with this project and to tell her story, because she feels the photographs might be able to help someone else.

At least the kids will now be with their father. Thank God for that. But their mother will be perfectly free to put them through that hell once again if she chooses, and again nobody will be able to do a thing about it until the police show up to haul off her new beau.

Despite all this, all Lewkowitz and assorted other bleeding hearts can think of as a solution is VAWA, because they can’t imagine for a moment that a so-called “victim” is part of the problem.

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

geographybeefinalisthimself February 28, 2013 at 05:04

“(I can hardly think of words that would describe my contempt for a piece of shit like him)”

I would consider Maggie to also be a piece of shit mother for what she did, even if she did return to her children’s father.

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patriarch February 28, 2013 at 05:29

Combined with the influence of feminism, it was probably a moron very similar to her (her mother) that guided her to pick the tattooed moron she picked. Also, combined with the influence of feminism and a moron woman very similar to her and her mother, it was a moron woman that gave birth to and raised the tattooed moron to be a tattooed moron.
If picking fruit that hangs low from trees in a warm climate is all that is required to survive, survival with abundant specimens of moron women is possible as long as you are not attacked by a better equipped or smarter enemy. But, as we are seeing, the same doesn’t hold true for an actual civilization. At some point when the numbers of moron women and tattooed moron’s get too high, it becomes impossible for the producers to carry their weight. The producers must police them, pay for their prisons, pay for their paroles, pay for the property damage, pay for the loss due to theft, misuse of property, equipment and vandalism, pay their rent, pay their heating, pay their welfare, pay their hospital bills, pay for their rehab. On top of that, eventually, the producers begin to see that they are living in a parasitic shit hole of an environment and start deciding it is not an environment in which they want to bring children into. The problem gets worse and worse. Which is where we’re at.

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Alex February 28, 2013 at 05:48

This is a crucial point – when did it become the case that fully-grown women with agency and autonomy got automatic higher victim status that small, powerless children? I read that article, and it almost seems like it must be satire, but unfortunately no, it is all too true. It talks seriously about Shane experiencing a ‘confrontational’ and ‘conflicted’ relationship with Kayden – the child is four years old! It is also mentions how the little girl, aged two, spends most of her time soothing and comforting her (poor, victimised) mother. No mention is made of anyone trying to comfort the children. No discussion of how it’s going to affect them long-term. All the focus is on poor, innocent, persecuted little mommy.

I also noted wryly the description of “Maggie, 19, and her 4-year-old son…”.

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X. February 28, 2013 at 05:58

People must understand that domestic violence depictions are nothing but skewed narratives on a continuum of other skewed and warped narratives aimed at characterizing men and boys as worthy of continuous exploitation.

You can’t do what is being done to men in society, if they were correctly and truthfully portrayed as no worse nor better than other deserving social demography’s.

If there is anyone to blame or excoriate for violence domestic, physical, sexual and otherwise, it is putatively set to be men. If there are anyone’s with justified and validated rights to define, redefine and continuously be the beneficiaries in this area, it is set to be women.

Anything else other than the above threatens to break this very lucrative and exploitable narrative for women and those elites with very great stake in it.

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Mike43 February 28, 2013 at 06:25

And I would bet that the father had her on direct deposit; she never missed a check!!

It was customarily required that soldiers with dependents have a direct deposit established, so the family would not miss a payday.

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Anonymous age 70 February 28, 2013 at 06:36

Note the author photographer assumes he can’t get a good job because of his tattoos. Nonsense. He can’t get a good job because he is a piece of shit, and anyone with any brains, which clearly excludes the photographer, can tell it at a glance. The tattoos are only a symptom of his real problems.

People who aren’t pieces of shit do not run out within a few days of having sex with a married woman, and have her name plastered all over his body.

The people who judge you by your tattoos or weird clothes for the most part are correct.

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TMG February 28, 2013 at 07:02

I would bet $250 that Maggie had dozens of stable, decent men who courted her before her marriage and probably more than a few after she separated. But noooooo…have to shack up with the exciting ex-con.

So the cycle continues, and Feminists can project this shit onto men and ensure more tax dollars will help them protect poor little Maggie from the bad, bad man.

This is a depraved sickness.

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Uncle Elmer February 28, 2013 at 07:06

Off-topic but all these web sites like Time etc now have link lists at the bottom of their essays : “You Might Also Like” and “From Around the Web”.

So in the comments section I have started making snarky comments along with “You Might Also Like” and “From Around the Web” and a bunch of monosphere links.

Juvenile, I know. But funny trolling.

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Troll King February 28, 2013 at 08:05

First, is her age correct?

It says she has a 4 yr old and a 2 yr old and is 19…so, she gave birth at 13??? No wonder she looks so used up for a 19 yr old. I have known many white trash girls like her and they age horribly. The oddest thing about this is that she was married to a Army man, who “allegedly” fathered both of her children (I am assuming that there weren’t paternity tests). From what I have seen the army tends to take age differences pretty seriously. I know they give a bit of leeway, but not usually middle school/18 yrs old leeway in these matters.

Second:

This is basically being used as one giant VAWA ad. So, assuming that everything is truthful here, which is a big “if”, then my question is this:

How exactly would VAWA change anything? It seems like, in this case at leats, everything happened in a text book fashion. To recap:

White trash whore mother meets convict while in prison. Begins relationship with convict. Convict takes over role as father figure for another mans children. Army father is most definately paying child support since he is in the army. White trash mother adores convict, evidenced by several photos of her lustfully glaring upwards in a submissive manner towards his alpha pose. White trash mom starts fight. Equal rights doesn’t mean equal lefts. White trash mother gets nocked around. Police are called. Convict goes to prison. Bonus: Convict is arrested by female police officer.

So, what went wrong with this picture that means we need VAWA? Everything that happened, happened correctly. This guy didn’t get off due to the “she was asking for it defense” that feminists like to proclaim is widespread. He is in prison. The police showed up and even photographed her wounds, and presumably offered her other types of assistance like hotlines and what not.

Where did things go wrong? I really think this needs to be our argument. Feminists love to argue the same thing in false rape cases. That justice was served because the guy was found guilty or whatever. In this example, at least, we can verify that justice was served. So, why do we need VAWA? If anything we need a Violence Against Children Act to protect from white trash mothers inflicting violence on children, by themselves or proxy, and a Protection for Fathers against Child Kidnapping Act.

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Black Rebel February 28, 2013 at 08:27

Being self-aware and white trash doesn’t make you any less white trash…because you named one of your kids ‘Memphis’.

I return to the West in a few months (not from the military), all this makes me sad.

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Georice81 February 28, 2013 at 11:54

@TMG

I doubt that she had any stable dude after her. Anyone who spent some time getting to know her I am sure could tell that she was trouble and would flee immediately.

There have been bad women like this through-out history. The problem is that in today’s world they are considered heroines.

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Reggie February 28, 2013 at 11:58

I don’t see any instances of him harming this child except the violence that went on in front of them. Did anyone notice the precipitating factor to that “abuse”? Her pointing to the door and screaming (presumably) “Get out!” That abuse also happened with children in the house.

She turned a thug into a defacto father. We can see him doing things with the kids and being very gentle and kind to them right up to hugging and saying goodbye to the little girl before he is arrested. It’s another example of a woman using love of family as a tool to control/hurt a man. This time it backfired on her.

Don’t be to hard on the thug. Whatever his circumstance, even this bad guy had the capacity for tenderness and love toward a child that wasn’t even his. Less can be said about this selfish wench. Ironically, the relationship likely hit the rocks because of the calming factor these children had on him. He turned into a kind, gentle father and there is nothing that will ruin a relationship faster than a bad guy turned good.

But bad guys do not really turn good without years of training and conditioning. Due to poor social conditioning they will snap back into their default animal rage state as a coping mechanism to stress and pain.

She will do it again. Five minutes of alpha …

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Justinian February 28, 2013 at 13:09

Ironically, the relationship likely hit the rocks because of the calming factor these children had on him. He turned into a kind, gentle father and there is nothing that will ruin a relationship faster than a bad guy turned good.

Well there is this:

“That night, at a bar, Maggie had become incensed when another woman had flirted with Shane, and left. Back at the house, Maggie and Shane began fighting. Before long, their yelling escalated into physical violence.”

Its tough to say due to lack of info, but it looks like a failed shit test.

He probably got defensive after returning home and tried to avow his loyalty to her.

He should have been more cool and joked around about it, then if she kept arguing left abruptly of his own accord and went back to the bar.

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wobbegong February 28, 2013 at 14:06

speechless

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Ric February 28, 2013 at 14:54

Classic case of fantasy affair: mother runs off with bad boy because she thinks the excitement is going to keep happening, only to realize that her new fast car will eventually put on miles and need maintenance. At that point will she trade up again? I’m sure she used to think Army boy was a bad boy, but not anymore, time to trade up for an ex-con. After the ex-con, what, a bad boy guitarist who plays in a heavy metal band and drives a motorcycle?

Worst part is, society excuses this behavior and allows her to drag her kids around with her. She is part of a group of single mothers who are a cancer to our society and rather than treat it, we are allowing the cancer cells to grow, damaging the good cells (fathers and children). I guess society is into masocism because it seems to deliberately enjoy hurting itself.

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El Bastardo February 28, 2013 at 17:48

WOW

Isn’t that service member a lucky guy? I hope he does not catch the aids virus from her ex prisoner romp. Just like the Marine who found out his kid was not his; what if these kids are not this guys? If the servie member leaves, she still has his wallet; and conjugal visits with Mr. Bad Boy san.

We have infantalized our daughters to the point that their morals have the relative value of monopoly money; though I would take Uncle Moneybags paper money to her immoralized amusement park of a twot any day of the week.

Too bad for her honorable ex husband-to-be that this ex con built hotels for STDs on her boardwalk! His rent payment is gonna suck. Obviously he never passes go; just straight to jail.

Maybe the two will take turns “taking care of her” as they rotate out. Kinda like a WWE tag team; but with less fighting (if that were even possible as it is staged), and a crap ton more drama. Somebody better copy write, and sell T-shirts.

I’d say screw her, but the carousel ride she has been on had a much bigger picture then she was aware of until she got off. Poor guy probably realized he had no better financial choice than to take her back? Now, her children’s father gets to bring her all that he made serving his country and being honorable; while she brings him syphilis.

Whew boy; so glad to serve my country Uncle Sam; So.Glad.To.Serve!

They have kicked so many of us out of the service; and still allow high unemployment, and our women to do this without consequence; at least to the wymmins. We all know we pay for that too. No wonder they are training for Marshal Law.

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Bob Smith February 28, 2013 at 18:29

Of course it looks like a VAWA ad, the feminist gravy train has derailed!

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patriarch February 28, 2013 at 18:57

“.. and all of the kings men couldn’t put Humpty together again..” Truer yet, “and all of the kings men couldn’t undo the damage done to our women’s brains to make them sane again because they are more cracked up and scrambled than Humpty ever was”.

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crella February 28, 2013 at 19:31

Good God, that picture of that tiny girl screaming because her mother’s being beaten is horrible…she’s a damned fool to expose her kids to that.

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Attila February 28, 2013 at 19:43

What people DON’T see is the verbal exchange which may have preceded such alleged physical abuse. Women love to stab men verbally when they sense weakness – which is foolish- because a man who feels insecure is perhaps more likely to lack self-control and end up beating the daylights out of the wife/GF. Women who constantly diss men are overplaying their bluff. Check this beautiful video out (apparently from Romania):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SCkp8CWboNE

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Jean Valjean February 28, 2013 at 20:34

The victim industry cannot be self-perpetuating if it points to the independent and autonomous choices of women as a major factor in domestic violence.

I can understand their denial that women are ever perpetrators. That’s just typical feminist man-hate.

But to continue to disempower women by telling them it’s never their fault; that no decision they ever make justifies DV shows a contempt for the safety of women and children.

You can’t un-throw the punches. But women can make better decisions about who they date and learn to spot the signs of an abuser before they get hooked up.

This isn’t victim blaming. It’s common sense. And it’s the kind of advice I want men to have. I don’t ever want men to think of themselves as victims. I don’t want them to have the “courage” to pick up the pieces after some cunt ruins his life. I want him to have the courage to kick that bitch to the curb before she gets her hooks into him.

That’s empowerment. That’s truly helping someone escape DV. Escape it before it happens.

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Jaundased March 1, 2013 at 00:13

“”crella: February 28, 2013 at 19:31

Good God, that picture of that tiny girl screaming because her mother’s being beaten is horrible…she’s a damned fool to expose her kids to that.””

That dirty dog was not being beaten but being serviced in the very manner she herself demanded to be serviced in, to satisfy her natural perverse tendencies … And it is a service language very commonly well understood and very commonly well demanded by the female of the gender, but only denied for civil appearances and false presentation purposes.

YOU can’t civilize this filthy mess, so stop the attempted placing of responsibility for it on others.

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crella March 1, 2013 at 05:16

? I’m afraid I don’t understand your point. I said that the mother is a fool for getting involved with a man like that. How is that placing responsibility on to others?

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Tam the Bam March 1, 2013 at 09:21

“Since that November night, Maggie has moved to Alaska to be with the father of her two children, who is stationed in Anchorage. In March, I will travel to Alaska to document Maggie as she tries to put the pieces of her family and life back together.”

Nope, you’re going there in the secret hope of more carnage and tears.
Six months is as about as long as any whore could stand before she’s right back on it again, and our noble photoessayist knows this.

Anyway you can’t do a thing till March up there. Better hurry up, Flashbulb Fanny, or she’ll be back in Trailertown, OH before you get there.
Hauling the kids along, and 50lbs. over and above the pre-existing pork, claiming as many banal horrors inflicted by the enlisted man as her stunted imagination can muster. Works. Every. Time.
Just as long as his checks don’t bounce, she’s free to “find herself” (another grimy little old man with brain damage and a drink problem; couldn’t bloody believe it, I was expecting Vin Diesel or something, not a withered jakey. I’m older than the pair of them added up, and I’m in wa-a-ay better shape than that midget dosser lol. Most reassurin’ ).

Mark me words. Soon as the ice melts, she’s outta there. If a passing Athabaskan doesn’t harpoon her by mistake first.

(PS the kids, lovely as they are, are doomed. Seen it all before, again and again. Unless Grandpa/Grandma gets them maybe. Preferably the serviceman’s parent(s) ).

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bruno March 1, 2013 at 14:10

“I can hardly think of words that would describe my contempt for a piece of shit like him”

Actually the real evil piece of shit here is our society, family law, and government, who encourage, enforce, support and facilitate the mothers lifestyle choice, of leaving the children’s father, squeeze him for money for 25 years, and then party it up with badboys.

In her opinion, she’s “living the dream”.

And our feminazi government looks at it and says: “It Is Good”.

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Stallywood March 2, 2013 at 17:59

There is no way in hell that I would stand by and let my children go through this. No matter what the law says. There are ways to take care of problems like this.

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nopestories March 5, 2013 at 03:24

Why is it even optional for people to let ex prisoners near kids and date people?
Shouldn’t be allowed in the first place, prisoners should be euthanized(overpopulation solved!), and any women without a will to protect their children should be sterilized and labeled disabled as away to protect her from getting with other violent men who never went to jail.

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