Should an Abused Wife Be Charged in Her Husband’s Crime?

The link between domestic violence and mass shootings raises questions about what legal responsibility we load on abuse victims.

Comments: 204

  1. Excuses. If she aided and abetted his planned violent assault, she's guilty. As this writer says, there is a duress defense, and her lawyers are entitled to use it. The jury will decide. Being a victim of a crime does not excuse committing a crime.

  2. If she was so afraid of him that he effectively coerced her actions. then she was not acting with intent when she assisted him in preparing for the crime. And absent intent, she is innocent. That sort of coercion is unusual, but it happens. People can do all kinds of inappropriate things when they fear for their lives. Whether that happened here is a matter for the jury to decide.

  3. So if a bank robber screamed at you (a customer) that he will kill you and your children unless drive the getaway car, you should be accused of abetting? Ridiculous.

  4. Years ago, I worked in a women's prison. Women told me stories of being forced (under threat of violence or death to themselves or their children) to steal cars, deal drugs, etc. One even told me she was glad she was in prison because it was the only way she was safe from her abuser. Living with constant intimate violence makes it difficult to think clearly and access services--particularly when the abuser might get a misdemeanor, be immediately released (if arrested at all), and the woman is supposed to protect herself with a piece of paper. You have no idea the sense of terror these women (and sometimes men) experience.

  5. "Again, the trial has not yet begun, and nothing has been proven." Which makes everything you say here moot. Are you suggesting that the events and her role in them should not even be explored in a court of law? That would be a mistake.

  6. She needs to be able to say something in her defense in court. This abuse defense is hard to prove or disprove, unless she has some kind of corroboration. I felt suspicious of it, reading this. certainly if true it should be taken into account. But should not grant a full pardon.

  7. Legally, Ms Salman need not say anything in her defense, per the 5th Amendment. The prosecution must prove its case against her beyond a reasonable doubt.

  8. Let's leave it to a court to decide, shall we? She no doubt will put forward her defense arguments, claiming she was coerced by her husband perhaps, as she is fully entitled to do. However, it is for a jury to determine whether she is telling the truth or not, she may have made up her claims you see? She might be telling the truth about her spousal abuse, but then again she might might not be. We simply can't take her word for it unverified. That's why we have trials and why we don't leave it to newspaper commentators to determine guilt or innocence.

  9. I wouldn't put much faith in juries. Too many gullible people believe anything a prosecutor puts in front of them. Too lack of critical thinking exists anymore.

  10. Disingenuous to the extreme. She is not being tried for his crime. She is being tried for HER crime, which was related to his, but legally distinct.

  11. Not disingenuous at all, if she was forced into her crimes by fear of his killing her, a perfectly reasonable fear since he amply proved his capacity for killing people.

  12. The only way to stop domestic abuse is to encourage women’s agency. But by arguing that an abused woman cannot be held responsible for complicity in a terrorist act, we to her exactly what the abuser did: treat her as less than human. Noor is a grown woman. If she knew of her husband’s plans and did not report, she belongs in jail for failing to act as a responsible citizen. Was she abused? Perhaps. But she was not held in solitary confinement, unable to contact law-enforcing agencies. At some point, people’s lives matter more than a woman’s bruises.

  13. Really? What is the responsibility of a person in fear for their own life when they know that the society will take no action against her spouse if she reports that he is planning an attack and he denies it to the police? What do you think her chance of survival is? We’ve seen several of these cases where the first one killed is the abuser’s victim spouse or girlfriend.

  14. Mor says, "Noor is a grown woman. If she knew of her husband’s plans and did not report, she belongs in jail for failing to act as a responsible citizen. Was she abused? Perhaps. But she was not held in solitary confinement, unable to contact law-enforcing agencies." This is a faulty assumption. Many abused women are, effectively, held in solitary confinement. In fact, abusers often isolate victims from their families; and that isolation -- "I love you so much I want you all to myself" -- is often the first indication that someone is in an abusive relationship. And the threat to those women is often not just bruises, but with every bruise received, the a threat to her life. At some point, women's lives matter more than other people's faulty assumptions. This strikes me as one of those moments.

  15. Women in domestic abuse situations are most often killed exactly when they try to leave or seek help. "Encouraging agency" is very complicated when it has a strong risk of death. It was her life too, and if you don't think he would have killed her, you're sadly sheltered.

  16. Why on earth would they prosecute the domestic terrorist’s first victim? Maybe if they paid attention to the women & their families who are domestic abuse victims the police might prevent a large scale bombing or shooting, if there were measures in place to stop abusers from getting the guns they should not legally be able to buy, they could again prevent the violence. If we applied the same standards to gun purchases & licensing as we do we to alcohol ( proof of age) & drivers license testing( showing proficiency and insurance) & prosecute domestic abuse as felonies, we should be able to stop repeat domestic offenders from having the the tools to commit these heinous and cowardly crimes and would make their families safer.

  17. They should prosecute and let the facts come out at trial. Abuse may be a defense but it has to be asserted and proven at trial. A claim of abuse by itself is no bar to prosecution. Noor Salman is also being prosecuted for obstruction of justice for actions she did after her husband was dead. She has no defense for that.

  18. I agree! And domestic abuse should precipitate the removal of firearms from the home!

  19. This is a simple matter that the law adequately handles. Ms. Epstein is not a criminal lawyer and clearly does not know criminal law. Like any criminal lawyer, I can tell you there is no general answer to the question here. It is decided case by case. And the issue is whether the abuse in each case eviscerates the wife's criminal intent. If the coercion overrides any possible finding she that she acted intentionally, the wife is not guilty. But if there is evidence that, notwithstanding the abuse, she acted freely and voluntarily, then the case will go to the jury. As for the duress defense, it is irrelevant. The sole legal issue is intent.

  20. The decision about the critical dimensions underlying and enveloping a person's overt behavior, and the intent is a judgment. Human judgment, and their human judges, are inherently flawed. Types, levels and qualities of flaws influenced by reality's ever-present dimensions. Random results. Uncertainties.Unpredictabilities. Lack of total control notwithstanding the types, levels and qualities of our efforts.Law, as a control system, also has its built in flaws.Hopefully all the people involved in a criminal case are doing the best that they can, given who and what they are, who they are nit, and perhaps will never be. But this is all uncertain. Unpredictable. Uncontrollable. This article's focus is not criminal law. It's about a scientifically unmeasurable concept: human accountability, and its moral nuances. Which raises a complex, and perhaps not easily resolvable conundrum. Laws, and their underlying systems, can be ethical as well as unethical. Ethics, however defined, delineated and manifested are not lawful,or unlawful.Consider: would this cases' judge, prosecutor, defense attorney and jury members have themselves remained in this violating relationship? Left? Done something else that was "good enough" to help themselves?

  21. michjas, you clearly did not read the by-line at the end of the article and did not follow up on the Georgetown University Law Centre website. Prof Epstein is a professor of law and lectures on criminal law and procedure and has been working with the court on domestic violence for some 30 years.

  22. And how is the “intention” of someone who is coerced into setting up bank accounts or buying ammunition, for example — just how does any court propose to know the “intention” of the abused partner? Is it not the “intention” of such a person to simply stay alive?

  23. While we're thinking about the connection between domestic violence, mass murder and any responsibility on the part of the person being abused, we should also think about all the women convicted of killing their husbands/domestic partners in abuse situations where they feared for their lives. If we agree it's ok for individuals to "stand their ground," why are women convicted of killing their abusers?

  24. I'm not sure if there is such a crime as 'killing one's abuser'. Is there even such a crime as 'murder in self defense'? We have laws against aiding and abetting criminal acts. A popular example is collusion. Is it bad law? I'd rather encourage people to find other means of self defense. I'd rather see the next terrorist's significant other bail before a bloodbath.

  25. The difference between the two is of imminence. If an abuser is about to beat or is beating a spouse, the spouse most certainly should not be convicted. However if there is a time lapse between the abuse and the murder committed by the victim of abuse, comparison to stand your ground laws is irrelevant.

  26. In this as in all things, women are held to a different standard. They aren't granted the cover of justifiable homicide or temporary insanity. It just isn't ladylike to kill your abuser.

  27. Yes she should. Her crime might be mitigated by the abuse, and punishment can reflect that, but if she has criminal responsibility for murder, she should answer for that. Even abused women can make choices--if they can't there is always the defense of duress, a concept hundreds of years old. No new exceptions need be made.

  28. That abused spouses actually cannot “make choices” is the essence of understanding what abuse actually entails: the appropriation of someone else’s life for your own psychological purposes. Once subjugation is complete the victim no longer has the ability to make choices that appear so easy to others not similarly situated.

  29. According to such reasoning, parents of underage mass murderers should be prosecuted for criminally negligent homicide for failing to intervene when their children obtain weapons and plan their rampages, which was the case at Columbine and other school shootings.

  30. She is also being prosecuted for obstruction of justice after her husband was killed. Would you support those charges or are you opposed to those charges also?

  31. It appears this is the Stockholm syndrome defense. It may or may not work perhaps depending on other circumstances. Sympathy and vengeance are raw emotions. Playing them out in the courtroom can be tricky. Let's hope she has a good lawyer if you are sympathetic. But the demand of vengeance is a powerful force. And since Omar Mateen was killed in the shootout, someone will have to take his place. Real justice requires reason, evidence and maybe even compassion

  32. Maybe we as a society should take a good hard look at our desire for revenge. It is not healthy and we have committed many legally sanctioned murders by insisting on it.

  33. The conditions that the partner, almost always a woman, lived under should be clearly taken into consideration as mitigation. A person's mental status matters. Living under the thumb of a abusive partner or parent is terrifying and erodes the ability to act. BUT - as a woman who has supported strong legal action against domestic abusers - with protection and housing services for those trying to end destructive relationships, I'm wary of granting immunity from prosecution upfront. I have also argued for equal rights for as long as I have been concerned about spousal and child abuse. Part of this includes equal responsibility for those actions under one's control. The male abuser had also been shaped by parents, and culture: despite that I hold him responsible fro his acts. Accepting physical violence in relationships starts early, repeats in dating patterns, and is supported in cultures which treat women with less respect. Rob Porter represents hidden violence by 'respectable' men. WE need education regarding partner, domestic, and child violence which is endemic in our society (up to 4,774,000 US women experience physical violence by an intimate partner every year). I want girls and young women to get the message that they have "agency" to protect themselves, and an ethical obligation towards others - including their children and the community. I disagree with Prof Epstein - it's not about blaming women for partners acts, it's about changing the model.

  34. She shouldn't have to be charged. What she should do is report the violence to the police. Then the courts should have the power to take the abusers gun's away from him and make it illegal for him to have any firearms in his possession. Then, she should be obligated to call the cops is she finds a gun in the house. But this wont ever happen because we don't have any reasonable gun control in this country and anyone buy a gun just about anywhere. So I guess we will just continue to let abusers beat their wives and then go shoot up churches and kids. Let freedom ring!

  35. Sounds great except the woman may not be able to report the violence to the police without risking her own life. The husband may have controlled the phone, the car and any other contact she might have had. I don't think you understand the sheer terror deranged men can cause to their spouse and children.

  36. So many, it appears to be, male opinions offended by a wider social discussion of the effects of the law on a group of people traditionally underrepresented and many times unprotected by those who enforce it. Not to mention stigmatized by their vulnerability. Once again, by insisting on an impartiality that does not truly exist, not acknowledging the sociocultural contexts that work in decision and law making, an important discussion about the effects of domestic violence, agency, responsibility, and women's rights is being dismissed out of hand. As one comment stated so well: How many women have been criminalized for defending themselves? How many have been left to endure abuse because of decisions made by those enforcing the law? As with gun violence, if this isn't the time to discuss this, when will the right time be?

  37. Noor Salman may have been a victim, but she is alive, unlike the dozens of dead people at Pulse. As a woman I was offended by this essay. If Ms. Salman had ever in her life watched tv, read a newspaper or been to school in the US, she would be aware of things called the "Witness Protection Program" "protective custody" and facilities known as "Battered Women's Shelters." If Ms. Salman was mentally impaired, or perhaps even if she was illiterate and non-English speaking, the author's argument might make sense. All Ms. Salman had to do was call the police or FBI and say "my husband is planning a mass shooting and he's going to kill me too" and she would have been taken into protective custody. Her case has nothing to do with domestic violence as far as I can tell.

  38. So, all she had to do was call the police. Anne, you're living in a dream world.

  39. As a woman who's career is working with women and children who are victims of domestic violence, I think that your argument shows how little you know about what actually goes on in all aspects of domestic violence. There is SUCH power and control that the abuser exhibits onto his partner, and it can have extensive impacts on not just their physical health, but their mental health as well. It is not as easy as it seems to "just call the police or FBI". A lot of abusers I see have taps on their partner's phones. Many even will have video cameras around their homes, will hack into GPS tracking systems for their partners. It can be like living in prison and it is never easy to just "go to a battered women's shelter". I am not saying that she should be completely given a free pass, but none of us know the extent to what she knew, the extent of the abuse, or just in general what had been going on in the home. I think before people make comments like this, you should do your research, because this comment can be extremely detrimental to any survivors of domestic violence who read this. Thank you.

  40. Anne, as a woman I'm not surprised at how offended as a woman that you are. Clearly, you've never been exposed to a domestic abuse situation, as your comment indicates. That's a good thing, and I'm glad for you. But your good fortune and lack of knowledge in that regard, along with your enthusiasm in casting judgment on a woman whose existence you could not even begin to imagine, categorically disqualify you from making informed judgments here. Any competent defense lawyer would see that and make sure you're not Ms. Salman's jury. This is a good, if not an excellent thing, and you can continue your life unmolested, undisturbed the kinds of nuance that compassion demand.

  41. What is the evidence that she lacked any agency in her own actions?

  42. She may be guilty of believing in some crazed justification for killing innocent people. I acknowledge that. But to anyone who thinks the obligation to report supersedes all other considerations, i offer the observation that the cemetery is filled with women who thought they could, hoped they could, save themselves by reporting violence they were suffering and asking authorities for protection for themselves and sometimes their children, and whose abusive spouse shot his way through the "protection order." Or who never even got served a protection order. How could they have been served? There wasn't time left to do that after the police left the domestic disturbance call without confiscating the firearms. Do I overdramatize this situation? Aren't these situations factually recorded somewhere in the US on a weekly basis? I don't want the courts to deny this woman any consideration she should be given, but a society that "demands" justice is different from one that seeks it.

  43. "a society that "demands" justice is different from one that seeks it." Bravo! Excellent comment. Just as we should realize that offenders are put in prison AS punishment, not for it. As to the whole comment, spot on. My neighbor's daughter was strangled to death by her ex-husband after years of abuse, stalkings, protection orders, calling the police - who showed up after her husband was gone. She got no protection. The police grew up with him, knew him, and minimized what was happening. He followed her to another city where she moved to try to get escape. No, much of what we think is in place to protect victims as a sham.

  44. And the cemetary is filled with people-women among them-who were killed by both men and women who igmored protection orders and met husbands and wives when they were expressly told not to. People do stupid things-regardless of their gender. And the number of such crimes is far fewer than the numberof many other crimes. Wife and partner abuse tends to be a behavior which-whicher partner does it-is learned at the knees of the parents-much as political beliefs tend to be a function , usually, of family political beliefs. Republicans or Democrats, each beget and raise more of their own kind. Similarly, wife beaters or harridans learn such behavior pays in the home, from their own parents. The women shot regardless of protection orders are fewer and rarer then the women AND men who leave abusive spouses, to begin anew. What police and FBI stats will never show, is how many disappeared individuals were unhappy in a marriage, and simply walked away because they saw an opening. The dead whose hubbies "shoot past" orders, one sees in expensive and highly advertised Hollywood movies meant to make money from another's misery. They are far fewer and thus seem more interesting to writers and movie makers.

  45. She is also being charged with obstruction of justice for acts committed after her husband was dead. Should she be not charged with that also?

  46. The prosecution will paint her as Lady MacBeth; the defense will paint her as a victim coerced by fear. And the jury will be stuck figuring it all out. When someone does something horrific, we want to get our pound of flesh, and if the person kills himself, we are denied. We look for others, still living, to blame. Someone has to be blamed. I suspect that the facts will bear out that Omar Mateen was a brutal, vicious, evil person, which leaves the door open to the concept that his wife was not. I don't know if she will escape though, simply because of her proximity to the crime. We took Adam Lanza's mother apart and she was dead at the time. But someone had to be blamed for Lanza - someone had to know what was in him. Was she part of it, was she a driver, or was she pulled along in fear for her life? Fair or unfair, it will be up to a jury to figure it out. I'd like to think that the prosecution wouldn't bring charges if it were unlikely she was a willing participant. But prosecutors want someone to blame too, and thrive on winning. I hope she has a good defense. And the whole jury should read Dylan Klebold's mother's anguished book, taking the burden of his guilt on herself. When someone you love does evil, or someone you live with does evil, the burden is apparently unbearable.

  47. Do you think this would be happening if the shooter was white and his wife too?

  48. "the prosecution wouldn't bring charges if it were unlikely she was a willing participant" only if they aren't elected. If it's an elective office, they have to pander to the voting public, a fair number of whom will be very vocal in screaming for "justice", as will the local yellow journalism.

  49. One of the comments here was that abused women can make choices. That is often not the case. One would have to been abused, or studied the effect on thousands, to understand the power the abuser has psychologically, emotionally and physically over an abused partner. Much more productive to examine how and why so many women go headlong into these relationships without seeing the danger. And our society needs to raise their awareness so that the violence we see doesn't erupt, either singularly, or outside the relationships. Someone mentioned the "Stand Your Ground" law that allows a person to kill an intruder, but does not allow a victim to defend themselves unless it was "in the moment". Don't condemn until you can understand. Ms. Salman does need to be investigated, but I think judgment needs to be put on hold until all the facts are in.

  50. Wsa she under this stress after her husband was dead? The obstruction of justice charges are for acts committed after her husband was dead.

  51. Actually, much more productive would be to study the men who abuse, something that really doesn't happen. We study the victims up one side and down the other, still ignoring that the abusers fall into that default category in our society: men. Nobody studies the men. Note that even Congress has barred funding for studying gun violence. Abusers, abusive people, are constantly assessing situations for cracks and crevices into which they can insert their power. It starts seemingly innocently enough, and then grows. Let's study that, how abusive people manage to bring others under their control, how adept they are at concealing their sickness until it's too late.

  52. my 20 year old neighbor called the police after being beaten several times by her boyfriend(who it turns out was already on probation for DV) ..she was told to call while she being beaten, of course that was the end of her phone. i could not believe they did not take a report from her and arrest this i walked to the nearest police station its in police headquarters it was closed on the weekend ,i guess their are no police honchos in residence that need protecting on i went to a different one where the police lieutenant at the desk reassured me that ,yes that this was their policy and told me that i should call when this guy that should have been in jail already returned and beat her again since she no longer had a phone ..this was during seattle mayor mcguinn's zero tolerance for domestic violence policy

  53. What's the real purpose of this article? The author states at the beginning that not enough evidence is publicly known for a journalist o debate the level of the wife's complicity in the mass shooting. But that doesn't stop the author from debating the issue and exonerating the wife on issues essentially irrelevant to the depth and nature of her alleged complicity. Spousal abuse is tragic but 49 people being murdered is more tragic.

  54. Deborah Epstein, one of the authors, is not a journalist, she's a professor of law at Georgetown University School of Law and a co-director of the Domestic Violence Clinic at the university. The other woman, Kit Gruelle, was a victim of domestic abuse herself until her husband was killed in an oil rig accident 35 years ago. She has worked for over thirty years in the field of domestic abuse to help other victims.

  55. The marital union is a complex thing. In many cases, a woman cannot speak up much less acknowledge her husband's sexual abuse of her daughter when it is right in front of her. Domestic violence controls a relationship and warps the woman's ability for rational thought. A trial of Ms. Salman in this case might shed more needed light on domestic violence but at a high cost. If just half that cost were directed at helping women at the front end would we be trying many women for such crimes at all?

  56. Jufwiw, there should be more resources directed at helping women - at the front end -- but a caution: women who are in terrible situations often refuse to leave - or leave and go back repeatedly. Aside from all for all the fears already cited, sometimes the ONLY intimate relationship that the woman has had is with the abuser: no one else cares about her, she probably has no friends and her family if it exists may be just as dysfunctional. She may well have spent her childhood absorbing that abuse IS part of the intimate relationship. It takes a lot for someone o change even with assistance.

  57. "How can we make sense of the connection between domestic abuse and large-scale violence?" Indeed. And there is also a connection between domestic abuse and animal cruelty and abuse. I will bet that there are also other connections like racism or homophobia. We need to know more about the mental illness of hate and anger. It's my feeling (and I am no expert, not even close) that these what I think are connected behaviors are irrational when labeled as such, i.e. racism. It's irrational for someone to hate group such that he doesn't personally know any of most of them. What is the basis for the hate? Some kind of story. And any hate or anger that results in killing should be examined. It's my feeling again that all of these issues speak more about the perpetrator--probably trauma/abuse/neglect in their childhood, and/or probably a lack of cognitive ability and/or an extreme definable psychological illness. We need to know more. To stop the story at the word evil helps no one. There are people out there who, for whatever reason, see no other option, it's some kind of necessity. Punishment will not help a mind like this. The threat of punishment will not deter a mind like this. How can we find...and help...the next one. And can we use this information to help people who are also suffering with an irrational hatred or anger who might not go out and kill with an AR but will make life miserable for others and also themselves.

  58. The question here, as is so often the case in domestic abuse, is why she did not flee, or at least inform. Omar Mateen did work, did leave the home. They had no children.

  59. The public has a right to expect that collaborators and even silent witnesses be punished, if they had foreknowledge of mass murder. And the victims of the shooting had a right to expect pity themselves. There really is a lot weighing against the pity this woman may feel she deserves. If the facts aren't clear-cut, it will be a hard job for the jury.

  60. The commenters here who condemn Noor Salman (at this point, all men) have utterly no idea what it's like to be a victim of domestic violence. Many abused women have little or no choice in their actions. To the degree that she aided her husband, Ms. Salman was most likely coerced. A woman who defies or leaves her abuser often risks death. On another note: I'm a feminist, and I don't buy the argument that absolving Ms. Salman of guilt treats her as lacking agency because she's a woman. A woman might be a strong person yet still lack the resources and support needed to escape her abuser. I should know: I'm a survivor myself, and it took years before the right circumstances developed so that I could leave. I hope society has evolved to a level of understanding about domestic violence such that Ms. Salman will not be found guilty.

  61. What about obstruction of justice charges for acts committed after her husband was dead?

  62. I think we can be quite certain that Mr. Mateen had also been abused in various ways perhaps as part of his religious training and while I can't condone I'm sure that would explain his behavior. I am firmly and irrevocably opposed to the death penalty which should have ended centuries ago.

  63. First, the illustration is weird; political correctness galore. Second, just because she says she was abused, it doesn’t prove that she indeed was. Defense attorneys prescribe all kind of lies for their clients. I am not saying that she wasn’t abused. I just raised a point.

  64. Under Florida law, two of the six elements the defense must prove are: the threatened harm (to the defendant) must have been real, imminent, and impending; and the harm that the defendant avoided must outweigh the harm caused by committing the crime charged. One of the reasons the duress defense is rarely successful in these types of cases is that these elements cannot be proven. In fact, in my state, duress is not even available as a defense to murder.

  65. How about protecting the abuse victims? Since we apparently don't think women deserve to be safe, let's do it because it will protect us.

  66. In a society predisposed to retribution for heinous crimes perpetrated by violent men who then kill themselves, the surviving wife or girlfriend becomes the de facto target for redress because she had the temerity to survive what so many others could not. Sadly, it will always be cheaper to find someone to blame (usually a foreigner, a person of color, someone poor, or a woman) than to do the hard work of correcting the systemic problems that make these situations so deadly. If instead we put our efforts and money where answers may be truly found - in fully funding public mental health services, reducing the promiscuous proliferation of guns, providing sustained help for domestic abuse victims, and restoring funding for the CDC to collect and process data, we might begin to change the course of this slow-rolling national disaster.

  67. Although I feel sorry for Mrs. Salman, I find myself asking whether excusing her would not also exonerate those men inspired to commit violent acts against minorities as a result of attending a Trump rally. Despite the President's insistence that the buck always stops elsewhere, at some level, we are all responsible for what we do and for what we inspire others to do.

  68. The duress defense does not apply here at all. She had ample opportunities to escape the duress. Some people have compared an abuse victim to someone under imminent threat and uses stand your ground law. Stand your ground law defenses are when you for in imminent danger and not for actions taken after the imminent danger passes.

  69. These ladies are making the extra special female duress claim: that because she was MARRIED by Islamic law to the man-she was his property and, she owed him more obedience than a Western or non Ilsmaic woman would. I sometimes wonder-considering how often feminists cry out in favor of such laws-do they all want to be held to such obedience? Are all women who are married to be able to claim "I had to support my husband in anything he wanted because, he is a man and religious law all call for we women to obey."

  70. She had to pick up a phone. Once. She wasn't chained to the wall. Let her lawyers (unlike the authors, actually trained in the law) argue duress.

  71. The binary trope of our criminal justice system rarely reflects reality, and this situation happens to be a clearer example than most. Charles Manson, who became the personification of evil, did not spring from nothing. His childhood was the essence of abuse, and spent most of his teen years in custody. When he reached adulthood and scheduled to be released, he reportedly resisted, he knew his proclivities could not be controlled and found prison as a refuge from himself. Other countries, not only Norway, but even Germany, treat murderers not with punishment, but a non-judgemental attempt at rehabilitation. Perhaps our need to punish is an unvarnished biblical residue of God against the Devil, Good versus Evil that is baked into American culture. When a person struggles just to survive, and still resists anti-social criminality, it may be too much to ask that they condone this benevolence; that those who do break the law live better than they in what becomes the warm cocoon of a rehabilitation setting. Before we decide whether an abused spouse of a mass murderer is guilty of a crime, we need to first take a hard look at the simplistic distortion, the dichotomy of good and evil, that is the basis of our criminal justice system.

  72. I am confused about the point of this op/ed. Are you saying that duress is not allowed as a defense in this case and that it should be? If it is allowed as a defense, then what is the point of this piece?

  73. At the most generous, this may apply to her not reporting her prior knowledge of the massacre. There is no way she can be excused for, "obstruction of justice for allegedly misleading police officers and federal agents", which is also a charge. Actively lying to authorities after your husband mowed down dozen and is dead can never be excused, no matter the mental gymnastics being performed here.

  74. What percentage of mass shooters have been married or have even had a partner? (Maybe the lack of a partner might have contributed to their building frustration and anger?) I think this is a made up problem.

  75. Thank you for this. The Intercept recently published a story showing the steps Mateen made on the night of the attack. The location was not premeditated, and, therefore, Ms. Salman could not have helped "scope it out."

  76. This is a question for trained mental healthcare professionals. I cannot sit in judgement of someone who suffered at the hands of an abuser. I do not have the training necessary to determine what her fate should be. With that said, how might a jury of peers without intensive psychological training be able to carefully and successfully consider the complexities of this case? I imagine it is impossible at best.

  77. Duress defense is complex.As a term.Concept.Process.outcome. Option for necessary understanding.It can be considered to presume the operation of an undiagnosed "duress syndrome" which could operate to significantly affect a person's awareness. Perceptions.Expectations.Levels and qualities of thinking, feeling and experiencing. Judgments.Decisions, implement as well as not.Learning from what was done, or not, and anchoring the outcome.Repeating again or ceasing.All of this is dynamic.Ongoing. Multidimensional in its beginning as well as continuation. As well as cessation.It is nonlinear; A doesn't cause B.There's a whole alphabet of known, currently unknown, as well as unknowable factors involved.Did this woman freely choose to help her violent, violating husband?Do the types, and numbers, of people necessary to carry out and sustain, our daily,toxic, WE-THEY violating culture of selected "the others" experience pathological duress? Is this a reasonable explanation for unreasonable willful blindness about what is going on which shouldn't be? Willful deafness to unnecessary pains voiced by so many, and muted by now in others? Willful ignorance which chooses to ignore solid facts, mixing facts, fictions and fantasies into us nourishing foods for thought?Will, can, a duress defense be used by Trump and his minions when they will be judged for both what they did, which shouldn't have been done, and not having done what was menschlich and necessary for equitable well being.

  78. Well first of all based on the one line bio data at bottom of the page, I'd not allow either author on the jury. Then I'd prosecute the case on the merits just like for everyone else. Lots of relationships are abusive and abuse does not per se absolve a person of wrongdoing. It's unlikely we'd get Piso's justice here, because in American women are rarely held to the same hard standard men are for violent crime even when there is no relational abuse. And if you are a woman & didn't pull the trigger you have far less to worry about at sentencing than a man. Let the judge weigh the mitigating factors including abuse, and send her to jail if she deserves it on the merits, disregarding the presuppositions of innocence by victim-hood that is the pet project of political correctness.

  79. Seems to me that she could have ended her alleged physical, emotional, and sexual abuse by notifying police of her husband’s intentions rather than helping him achieve them.

  80. Stop infantilizing women. A woman may choose, for whatever reason, to submit to brutal treatment by a partner; you'd be surprised, perhaps, at how many women, across the globe, in far worse circumstances than the woman you discuss here, nevertheless find the strength to resist brutality and in places from which there is rarely a safe harbor. But any woman who fails to act when others are endangered is indeed herself complicit in a crime. Let us not forget what was done to Lisa Steinberg and the failure of her adoptive mother to save her. Animals die in the attempt to protect their young. Yet we excuse sentient higher creatures from their profound obligations? Life is hard; it presents many terrible challenges. People are often called upon to do the right thing within horrifyingly oppressive societies. The woman described here had options; they may not have been ones she wanted to take, but she could have, and did not.

  81. Perfectly stated.

  82. Mrs. Salman's situation is unique to her. Yes, others have experienced similar things, but not with the exact circumstances that Mrs. Salman has had to endure. Therefore, it is impossible to say whether different people would act differently. Especially when considering the lack of evidence because the case hasn't even been argued yet. Yes, other women have had what could be considered "far worse" treatment and spoke out. Yes, other women DO have it worse and somehow find the courage to speak out. But they are operating in their situation, not Mrs. Salman's. By your logic, the only people that should have clemency are the people who have experienced the worst crimes imaginable. Only they can speak out because they had it the worst. This isn't how the law works in the United States, and we are better for it.

  83. "Stop infantilizing women." It isn't infantilizing women to acknowledge that under duress they may feel compelled to act in ways they would never act if they were free of their husbands' coercive threats. Think of what men do when held captive. After enough abuse, even the best of men may succumb and say or do things they would never do as free agents.

  84. So how are these known perpetrators of domestic violence able to lay their hands on weapons? Who is arming those criminals if not the rifle association and their political allies?

  85. Agree with your conclusion. Finding scapegoats for what may be an institutionalized violence in facilitating the availability of guns, irrespective of 'him' being abusive domestically, must stop.

  86. Violent people need an audience and the first is an intimate who can't control them., maybe a child or elderly person; proof of how the world should be. They move on. The submissive in an unbalanced relationship doesn't have better choices, they have learned a role that has endless clients and this is their life's work. They have been taught or learned that being submissive vindicates one from evil. This woman did not commit any murder, she was a good submissive, exactly the role that every authority wants. We only question that she choose the wrong side, a presidential aide would have been OK. So, does anyone know what submissives are actually told when they seek help? It is the job of every psychologist, priest, clergyman, and family member to make that sacred intimate relationship work. Punishing someone who did not commit a crime because they did not act out of character and did not have better choices, doesn't address the tons of problems associated with a society that fails to protect. Every case is different, but I think this woman needs support more than prison.

  87. The law in general is absolutely clear that duress, or any similar conduct that is intended to compel an innocent person to commit a criminal act, is a defense to any crime ... except murder. The textbook example is the person whose spouse is held as hostage and who is then directed to take an explosive device into a public place to kill dozens. On the facts, is Ms. Salman guilty? We cannot know at this time. But, if she was fully aware of what she was doing and what Mr. Mateen intended to do, and if she provided him with substantial assistance, then she is guilty. However, when it comes for sentencing, or if because of mandatory sentences executive clemency, that is where the abuse must be taken into account.

  88. But as many #metoo and feminist women and girls are demanding , is marriage itself to be considered an excuse if some women taking sides, believe that an Islamic female is too ignorant and too perpetually under the influence of men , to ever make an independent judgment? Far too many well educated Western females are demanding a special plea for women to protect them from what women in other cultures consider to be, their ignorance and their cultural oppression? In the end, will all women not graduates od ivy league colleges or of East Coast private girls schools, be considered culturally oppressed by marriage and men and thus, always be excused from their actions as long as an easily visible man can be blamed? Will all women be considered to be too subject to the physical and sexual demands of womanhood, to ever be eble to take responsibility for their own acts? It seems that such an excuse merely allows an excuse for sactions by any woman to commit any crime-as long as a fall "guy" is available.

  89. She's not charged with murder.

  90. Not until women are taken seriously will we find a way out of this violence. The right wing won't allow the CDC to investigate gun killings to make the links thereby leaving the cycle to continue. Vote 11/6/18 for sensible mental health services and gun control.

  91. If it can be shown that she was coerced into providing assistance then that will excuse her. It is not necessary to create a special category of 'abused women' that places them above the law. The important project to promote and protect the equality of women can conflict with the project that seeks to protect women from the consequences of inequality. These are two quite distinct projects but are too often conflated in the public conversation.

  92. I have tremendous sympathy for Ms. Salman's ordeal at the hands of her monstrous husband, but if she indeed went scouting the location with him, and fabricated a cover story, that is the very definition of aiding and abetting. In this case, she aided and abetted one of the most violent, horrific, tragic crimes our nation has witnessed, and she should face the consequences for it.

  93. But for all we know he ranted and raved about many things he wanted to do in a rage and then never carried out. It is possible she just went along with him on one of many of his loosely conceived "plans" and this tragically was one he actually carried out? We tend to think that this kind of evil is so horrific it must have been relatively unique and carefully planned in isolation when he may have been "casually" planning any number of shootings that never came to fruition?

  94. it's one of those situations where the reason doesn't excuse the action. It's not like she helped him steal a car. She is complicit in a mass murder.

  95. Jon. women aid and lie for their abusers in other to keep from being "punished" by their abuser. They are convinced that they are trapped and will be beaten or killed by their abuser. The actions you beleive prove her guilt are actually actions that abusers force their victims to participate in. To an uniformed outsider they may look like acts of free will but they are not. Every aspect of an abused woman's like is supervised by her abuser. The crime her is the government prosecuting her for her husband's crimes.

  96. This would be more compelling if the authors mentioned independent evidence that the defendant was abused. As it is, we're merely told she SAID she was abused.

  97. Many if not most religions encourage wives to comply with their husbands wishes. Young girls raised to think for themselves and speak for themselves do not develop into compliant women. One of the comments below suggests that Noor Salman certainly would have seen and known about battered women's shelters where she could have gotten help. It is likely that Noor Salman might not have considered herself a battered woman. Many, many religious women see themselves as doing some god's will when they submit to husbands who themselves think they are submitting to some god's will. People take notice when larger numbers of people are harmed or killed by ideological extremists. Every day, individuals are intimidated and sometimes physically harmed one mind and body at a time behind closed doors by these same ideological extremists and girls and women are generally the primary targets.

  98. Abuse does make a wife more likely to keep silent. That also is a fact that rightfully doesn't matter to the families of the victims. It's not excusing the abuser to note that women have stayed in many of these relationships due to a compounding series of bad choices over time. That does matter when it comes to abetting mass murder. Our response should be to support victims of domestic violence to get out of the situations they are in, something.our country can do a lot more to achieve. And it should also be to not use it as an excuse in being negligent on this scale.

  99. We as a society should take very seriously signs that boys (its very rarely girls) are violent. I don't mean a schoolyard fistfight (seems very quaint these days). I mean cruelty to animals, younger children, and bullying others. A child who exhibits a "mean streak" is a child in trouble. Children who hurt animals are without empathy, a quality some of us have rather naturally and others are taught. If you see cruelty in any child, intervene. It is not normal behavior. Don't excuse it as "boys will be boys". Don't ignore it. There may be domestic violence and/or child mistreatment at home. Don't wait until it gets worse. Act.

  100. The facts are too sketchy at this stage to say anything on whether or not the abused wife should be held guilty for the crimes her husband committed. Let the trial proceed and then do an op-ed soliciting public opinion on the innocence or guilt of the accused wife.

  101. What this article also fails to point out is the multiple ways law enforcement and the legal system fails to protect abused women as well. So let's hold them accountable. And how the times the FBI ignored warning signs of domestic violence, or in the Parkland case, did not take actual warnings seriously. Let's hold them accountable too. How about that women leaving abusers is the time that their lives are most at risk for being murdered. I see comments that show a lack of understanding of domestic violence, which should be renamed domestic terrorism, for that is what it is. Perhaps if the FBI had listened to some other points of view - as in, a man who terrorizes his family is at risk of being a man who commits a mass shooting - some of these cases could be prevented. And if anyone thinks there is real justice for women in this country regarding domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, or sexual harassment, I have a bridge to sell you. In the light of all that - particularly in the light of the legal system's blindnesses in dealing with violent crimes against women, it is the height of hypocrisy to be trying this woman now.

  102. Another excellent reason women should be thoroughly empowered with education and employment so they are never under anyone’s thumb.

  103. Oh, IDK. Many abused spouses have college degrees and careers.

  104. While -Prairieflax- is correct that you can certainlybe well educated and work and still remain in an abusive relationship -- but having an education and work history makes survival possible - and imaginable - to woem who can break out, where as a lack of opportunities is one more barrier to those without. I have met in my career a couple of well educated women: in addition to their husband's abuse - there was a lot of fear and shame about revealing their real lives publicly. There was also fear of losing financial support, as they knew that their husbands - often respected professionals ( one was on the board of a mental health clinic which provided Domestic Violence Services) would fight tooth and nail to deprive them of any benefits - - - the reasons for not fleeing can be many. All about fear of injury , deprivation, humiliation -

  105. Seems to me that the only message an abused wife should be given is that were she to defend (used quite broadly, in my mind, i.e., it would not have to be immediate defense) herself, perhaps kill her husband, then full consideration would be given to that. Violence often needs to be stopped dead in its tracks, pun intended.

  106. Women who commit crimes are not sentenced to prison at the same rates or for the same duration as men, particularly if they are white. Now the The New York Times Editorial Board seeks to codify this reluctance to incarcerate women in cases where a woman alleges, after the commission of a crime, that she should not be held responsible for her actions “if she had a well-grounded fear of incurring serious bodily injury for refusing to act and if she had no plausible hope of escaping the threat.” While Editorial Board wants to create a narrow, but viable aperture for this defense, by adding the terms “well-grounded” and “no plausible hope,” were the standard permitted it would be as abused as Florida’s Stand Your Ground defense, which the Editorial Board found dubious.

  107. We need to stop infantilizing adult women. You don't get to change your mind later that you didn't want sex, and you don't get to claim abuse as a get out of jail free card. By speaking out ahead of the nightclub shooting, Ms. Salman may have endangered her own life, but she would have saved 49 people. Are we comfortable as a culture saying that the life of one person trumps the lives of 49? Slippery slope. If women want to be taken seriously, they must be held accountable for their actions or lack of actions just like men.

  108. Each case should be decided on its own merits, as that is the only workable law. Give abused women a get-out-of-jail card in advance, and you create more problems than you solve. He gets tried for his crime, and she gets tried for hers.

  109. Don't include the shooters' names in this type of article. You are giving them further fame and encouraging copycats.

  110. From the drawing at the top of the article, it is clear that the woman is completely innocent of any wrongdoing. Maybe not.

  111. Domestic violence victims do not have free will, as a rule. Occasionally one exerts her free will and kills her abuser because law enforcement ignores, sometime even supports, abuse of women and refuses to help. No one acts rationally in a constant state of terror. Try it if you don't believe this. Go find a place in the world where your life in under threat, 24/7 for years and see how well you think.

  112. Everyone is a victim of something and no one other than the newborn is truly innocent.

  113. "No plausible hope of escaping the threat?" Why not just leave?

  114. She is alive. The real victims aren't. Life is choices and some of them are hard. Call the FBI, get on a bus and go somewhere and never look back.

  115. I can’t even begin to understand the affects domestic violence has on individual. The following may be of interest. I cannot provide direct links without my account being accessed. For medical professionals: search - domestic violence For the public: search - domestic violence

  116. More waster.. This is not the Manson murders... The issue is aiding and abetting... but in fact whatever aid was provided in the end did not abet/ provide any escape for the criminal involved. Where was this woman to go?? Did she fear for her own life? If she had turned her husband in before he commited his crime? If no crime has taken place, is there a crime or merely a scenario?? an idea for a script? That's the real question. IMO she has suffered plenty and sending her to trial does nothing except waste $$ which we seem to think solves all the problems. She needs help not prosecution. She is not of sound mind.. and an insanity defense would IMO not be out of the question.. altho it might not be allowed.

  117. Your question goes to an issue that bedeviled the law which seeks to hold persons accountable for their individual actions. If the facts show that she aided and abetted the mass murder, at what point do we excuse her actions? Were her actions the result of a "diminished capacity" which robbed her of her ability to exercise choice? Or - regardless of the abuse she suffered - should the law hold her accountable? The last British woman hanged for murder in 1955 was sent to the gallows for shooting her abusive husband to death. The case helped change British law to accept a charge of manslaughter, not murder. A woman in North Carolina murdered her abusive husband by setting him on fire. Murder or diminished capacity? A note of caution here for those rushing to find diminished capacity when wives murder their abusive husbands. At what point do you say that the murderer lacked an ability to choose a different outcome less than murder? While women are rightfully claiming equal rights in employment, careers, and throughout society, being too accepting that murder was the only option denies that a woman could choose. Using the abused spouse defense here may be a stretch. She didn't pull the trigger. She didn't kill her abuser. Instead, she is charged with helping her abuser murder others. That appears to be a big difference.

  118. This opinion piece is another example of the excuses routinely used to support women criminals and further victimize men. 1 in 7 men in America are victims of severe physical domestic violence. That’s the CDC statistic. Look it up. That is 25 million American men. The press never tells their stories. Police don’t know they exist. Domestic violence shelters have virtually no beds for them. Domestic violence groups discourage men from reporting. Stay-at-home dads who are abused are given the choice of being separated from their kids or being beaten and sometimes killed. Their abusers, often women, are virtually never held accountable until the men have been murdered, and sometimes not even then.

  119. Would that CDC be the same org that isn't permitted to study gun violence, a crime most often perpetrated by men? Until there is true equality in our culture, the lines will be blurred in cases such as this. Better to acknowledge the gender bias that underlies our culture and begin working towards equal rights before finding fault with the media.

  120. The Justice Department was forbidden by statute to study domestic violence against men for over a decade under VAWA. Which is why the CDC had to take it up as a public health issue. The NRA learned how to prevent the collection of data from NOW.

  121. Women have been joint perpetrators or consprators of terrorism: Paris, London, San Bernardino, Syria, Iraq, etc. Why don't you acknowledge those instances?

  122. That's an important point. I was thinking of San Bernardino myself.

  123. Why don't you acknowledge that battered women have their choice taken aways from them by their abusers?

  124. So...if one does they all do?

  125. As an abuse survivor, I can say that this woman is a scapegoat. Abuse breaks you down to where all you can think about is how to get through the next few hours. She is no more responsible for his choices than I am.

  126. Tina: I am the survivor of an emotionally abusive marriage that endured for more than a quarter-century until the final line was crossed and I ended it. Each one of us has our own limits; we do choose to continue to accept abuse or to decline to. When there's an attempt to extend the abuse to those we have an obligation to protect, we are complicit if we do not act.

  127. Self- preservation is the first law. As you probably know from bitter experience, a physically abusive relationship quickly brings all your thought processes to simple survival. I am not saying she should not be remanded for treatment, but expecting her to save others before herself is not rational.

  128. Sorry, Tina. She could choose, or not, to save herself. But she had a child to whom she owed a better life; she owed society warning about her wretched husband. It wasn't rational for Germans to protect Jews and other persecuted groups, at the cost of their own lives and the lives of their families, and yet we still revile them for not doing so.

  129. Yes. Absolutely. If an abused child grows up to be a shooter he will be charged. No one gets a pass in such a horrendous crime. As a society we must be consistent in holding all who are complicit, responsible. End of story.

  130. Irregardless of her personal abuse, if she knew that he was planning to kill people and she did nothing to report it, she has a responsibility in it. If she had reported it she sould have also had protection from that point forward. I have been in an abusive relationship and it is horrible, but you cannot let it excuse that fact that she did nothing to protect these people.

  131. Agree, Jeanne. I, too, was in a physically and emotionally abusive relationship, and at several points, came very close to becoming a statistic. Nevertheless, I would not have stood by and said nothing while my boyfriend planned and carried out a mass murder.

  132. OT but I have to ask: What is the difference between "regardless" and "irregardless," besides the latter not being a real word?

  133. Jeanne: If you knew that if you called the police on your abusive husband, that the police would not beleive you, especially of you are an immigrant, that instead of your husband being put in jail, you would probably at the minimum be severely beaten ar more likely be killed, would you have the courage to call the police? cemeteries are full of abused women who tried to flee their abuser.

  134. As to these comments: Wow. Just wow.

  135. So "it would be irresponsible to speculate about Ms. Salman’s possible role in this horrific event" but it would be "responsible" to to exonerate her ahead of any evidence being presented based on some unverified claims she makes? Are the authors insane?

  136. She should have kept her mouth shut. Too many people forget they have a right to remain silent.

  137. Too many people are coerced by the police to answer questions believing that they are not suspects but are just helping the police.

  138. The authors full well know that in American jurisprudence the batterered spouse issue is a question of fact for the jury. I’m sure that’s what will happen here.

  139. If she were a white, christian woman, we wouldn't be having this conversation. The presumption of innocence would be guaranteed. But she's not and in our current anti-Muslim atmosphere, it's easy to bring charges. Convicting her of a crime would be victimizing her twice.

  140. Yes she should be charged.

  141. She couldn't save herself to expect her to be able to step forward and save others is a bridge to far also rarely if ever are the spouses of white supremacist terrorist charged.

  142. Exactly! Those "White" women are treated as victims but this muslim woman is treated as a terrorist.

  143. Had she known, had she informed authorities, would she have been protected, relocated, financially supported? Would authorities have committed themselves to assure her best interest? NOT, I think. Perhaps she loses, whatever. And

  144. Where is the evidence on which you rely for your entire premise beyond "she said"?

  145. Our society provides inadequate resources for abused and homeless women, lacks adequate protection from stalking, does not restrict angry/abusive men from having guns at their fingertips, and convicts women who attack their abusers. If you are abused both friends and coworkers will ignore it and blame you for not having the emotional strength and the practical resources to get away. Our society is largely unconcerned with the victims of abuse to the point of punishing those who strike out at their abusers. It seems hypocritical when we provide abusers with easy access to military-grade weaponry and then blame their victims for actions coerced by their abusers. We are all complicit in these mass murders.

  146. Yes. Next question.

  147. Wait a minute here. The author states that we know he abused his wife. Do we really? Is this just her word? Are there any material facts or evidence to back up the wife’s claim? And even if she was you mean to tell me she was incapable of telling anyone? She couldn’t pick up the phone and call the FBI? I’m sorry but this article is full of holes and proves nothing. She aided her husband to perpetrate the worst mass shooting in Florida history. She deserves to be put on trial and let the jury decide what’s true and what’s not true, not the media.

  148. "Wait a minute here. The author states that we know he abused his wife. Do we really? Is this just her word? Are there any material facts or evidence to back up the wife’s claim?" Omar Mateen's ex-wife has also stated that he was abusive (google it). She has provided a lot of details. It was bad enough that she had get her parents to help her leave. So it is not just his widowed wife's word, it is now confirmed as a pattern of his behavior. As to evidence of abuse, you can google that too if you were inclined. Lots of abused wives have been killed by their husbands - I am sure all of them were also capable of a quick call to the police before things got escalated to that point. Are you familiar with relationships involving abusive husbands? You are blaming the victim for being in an abusive relationship.

  149. Yes, we know he abused her because he was a man. /sarcasm/

  150. Physical abuse of one's spouse (or partner) is itself a crime, albeit under-prosecuted. Given the pattern as in this case of abuse within the household, guns, erratic/secretive behavior, etc., the failure to report such conduct is clearly aiding and abetting prospective felonies. The abused person may be spouse or family, but they are still a person and thereby responsible to other people. Help is available, from police, women's shelters, friends, etc. It does not matter what crime is contemplated, or whether the abuse victim knows the exact plan. Whether the result is more abuse, robbery, selling heroin, or mass murder, those who enable are partly responsible. Failure to report is failure to prevent. I am deeply sorry she was abused, and also that he was able to buy bump stocks and shoot and kill so many people.

  151. One important reason that women don't leave or report is that this is exactly when they get killed, hence the suggested legislation for there to be a waiting period for gun purchase after a restraining order.

  152. Ms. Epstein provides a list of mass shooters who also happened to be abusers. But not one of those women helped their abusive partners with their mass shootings. Therefore, Ms. Salman has no excuse, by the very examples that Ms. Epstein gives linking abuse victims to mass shooters. Furthermore, the authors fail to address the real elephant in the room. Ms. Salman, like Ms. Tsarnaev, like Tashfeen Malik, and like the scores of women who flocked to support and fight with ISIS, matches a very clear pattern of devout Muslim women who willingly participate in jihad and terrorist attacks. Liberals can try to deflect all they want. They can try to protect an Islamist by blaming "toxic masculinity" and abuse. They can try to protect a school system and local police department that did not enforce existing laws that would have prevented a mass shooting, by screeching for new laws that would not have prevented the shooting. And they can try to deflect from Trump's successes on the economy by chalking them up to Obama. But all of this is the exact same counterproductive messaging that threw the election to Trump. These deflections only serve those in the liberal bubble. They're so far out of a mainstream, common sense interpretation of events that they make people angry with the press, and angry with the liberal who create these absurd narratives.

  153. This poor woman had the same options that all women in the Middle East (or whereever the Islamic religion prevails over society's lay laws) have to wear no scarves, bhurkas etc., so much that they do not question that anymore and think they are deciding to wear it. Some cultures have ingrained the fear and submission so much in their women that it seems hard for us to understand. And not everyone is a hero...

  154. Don't blame Islam. Just look around at the many American "Christian" religions that tell women that God demands that they stay in an abusive relationship, that it is tier fault of the woman for not being a good wife, and that the man is the head of the family and can do no wrong. When those women go to their churches for help they are usually shunned.

  155. I can’t help but wonder if her religion is a reason for her being charged.

  156. The abused wife defense is rubbish. People are free to leave, bottom line. Crime cannot be justified.

  157. "People are free to leave" Talk about rubbish. Tell that to Nicole Simpson and the nearly 3 women a day killed in the U.S. by their boyfriends and husbands.

  158. If women want to be seen less as victims and more like sovereign beings, we have to stand up and act like it. I applaud the MeToo movement because its finally about women taking their power back. But that means saying NO to mindlessly following your spouse or partner. It means being willing to stand up for yourself, think for yourself, and act for yourself. Women can't have it both ways.

  159. I used to think that until I met two capable, creative and enterprising women who own their own businesses, both of whom were in abusive marriages. In every aspect of their lives they were sensible, made good choices and seemed totally on top of things. But when their husband pulled them around the house by their hair, screamed, punched them, forced sex or denied it, belittled, controlled and denied money, and emotionally dominated, they both had great difficulty escaping, thinking they were to blame. In fact I wonder if being a woman who "can do it all" is at risk for being stuck in an abusive situation BECAUSE she is so good at controlling everything else. Of course it must be "my fault" since I am responsible for everything else that happens in my life. That's one reason why certain women can't always just walk (or run) away. There are many other reasons.

  160. @Amy Haible: it doesn't sound like you understand the facets of domestic abuse. As described in the article, it is control, threats, coercion, and distortion of reality to an incredible degree. The control abusers exercise over even the most confident, self possessed woman is stunning. It is not not matter of women "mindless following [their] spouse". Perhaps we should hold abusers responsible for abuse and not their victims.

  161. Amy, lets hear from you again after you've been terrorized by a spouse or boyfriend for years, beaten, kicked, threatened, choked, thrown down the stairs, had access to money removed, access to the car removed, access to phone removed. And after years of the constant verbal and physical battering, let's see you think for yourself. Most women in that situation have a hard time thinking at all, being required to be constantly vigilant, constantly in fear.

  162. How about blaming Ms. Salman's own family for not being properly supportive of her and offering refuge if needed? Don't worry about the larger society. Examine why families do not protect their members and enforce civilized behavior. Examine why mothers-in-law are often the most unrelenting tormenters of their daughters-in-law, and why they raise failed men in the first place.

  163. The connection between domestic violence and mass murders is about as tenuous as the connection between mental illness and mass murders. The author briefly acknowledges this, but then ignores this fact.

  164. I believe this is the defense that the German population gave when asked why they didn't speak up in the midst of millions of fellow citizens (Jews) were rounded up, tortured, and killed. I'm not buying it nor should the jury. Ms. Salman is guilty.

  165. You marry animal, you suffer the consequences. No sympathy

  166. "You marry animal, you suffer the consequences." So all victims of domestic abuse who have trouble leaving their abusive spouses because of insecurities really have themselves to blame - is that what you are saying? Because our society rejects the blaming of victims so I think we collectively disagree with you.

  167. I doubt they do....

  168. Answer:No.

  169. It seems clear that there is little understanding of how the game is played for women in an abusive relationship. Women who have been in an abusive relationship really do not have the agency imagined by outsiders. I know a woman who was emotionally abused. When I asked why she stayed, her response was simple - she had no choice, no viable options. This woman is tough, self reliant, and successful. At the time though, she did not have options. For ll those who say "Well, I'd leave him the first sign..." you might not be as tough as you think you are.

  170. Hahaha...Americans have always lived in two worlds. The real world of "Lie, Cheat, Steal and Kill"....and the make-believe world of the courtroom where ....oh darn...we Lie, Cheat, Steal and Kill....oh well forget it.

  171. Of course she should be charged. How else can she clear her name? Her only chance at rejoining society is to be judged through a open system.

  172. Why should female criminals get special treatment?

  173. Um, I would hope that first establishing whether or not she is a criminal is NOT "special treatment." That's what trials are for, and she has not yet gone to trial.

  174. That's not what this article says; you have missed the point entirely.

  175. Why is tax dollars being wasted for this trial and ridiculous charges? We all need to raise our voices and tell the prosecutors/government to JUST STOP! Let the woman get counseling and get over the ptsd of living with a terrible abuser. Obviously she did what she had to just to survive.

  176. If there are so few facts available, and it would be irresponsible to speculate, why are there full blown defenses of Ms. Salman popping up, written by lawyers, that start with that acknowledgement and then go on to pretend that they know why she shouldn't be on trial? So far, we've had the argument that because her husband wasn't a homophobe, the facts of the case are all wrong and she shouldn't be tried (Intercept, Greenwald et al.) and this one that because she alleges an abusive relationship she must have been under duress and not responsible. Given the way the PEN authors reacted to the Charlie Hebdo attack, I'm sure we'll soon get an argument that trying her is Islamophobic, because hints of that have already been floated in the media by her lawyers. All of these arguments argue that the process of justice should be rewritten based on the identity of the defendant. It's about as far from the notion that fair treatment demands equal treatment irrespective of "race, color, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth or any other similar criteria" as an argument can be. It isn't an improvement on fair and equal justice, it's a discarding of it.

  177. This is a difficult case. To the extent the government relies on admissions Ms. Salman made while being interrogated by the authorities, there will be legitimate questions about the reliability of those admissions.

  178. The very premise of this essay is offensive and sexist. There is NO EVIDENCE that Ms. Salman actually suffered from serious abuse. What we do know is that she was not under his "coercive control." She had her own bank accounts, communicated freely with her family in California, which she visited often, including with their child and without her husband. Just as every cop will claim they were in fear for their lives when they shot that unarmed citizen, every woman who helps plan a crime will proclaim abuse...just like Tonya Harding. This was a woman who was married once (arranged) and divorced. She knew how to get out of a bad situation.

  179. This article presumes that women are somehow less than men. They are not. They are accountable for their action, just like men. How would a male defending himself from the charge of robbery or bribery because his wife wanted him to buy her stuff sound to you? Ridiculous of course, but there is really no difference between both arguments.

  180. I was in a profoundly emotional abusive marriage, for more than a quarter-century, to a Muslim man who was born and reached (supposed) adulthood in a patriarchal Muslim country, and yet there were still lines I enforced. I did not accept physical abuse--not even while living in his country with his wretched parents. And in that wretched society there were many other women, too--some from exceptionally disadvantaged families and with close to zero the options Ms. Salman had--who left abusive husbands, filed for and were granted divorces, or simply returned to their families and refused to rejoin their abusers. Stop trying to convince us that there are classes of women who have no choice but to live with abuse and to accede to whatever criminal behavior their spouses choose to engage in. Yes--it's very difficult sometimes to resist, or to leave; one's settled life must be upended. But a not-perfect choice is still an available choice and to not leave is itself a choice. We are, each and every one of us, responsible for each and every one of our life choices.

  181. If a man were constantly berated by his wife, would he lose his agency and be able to place responsibility for his actions at her feet?

  182. Of course! Since men are trained from birth to be in command, any man who allows a woman to be in charge and berate or abuse him has als lost his ability to resist. I've been a crisis worker in the area of domestic violence. many men are victims ans their attitudes and symptoms are the same as women victims. Its a dirty little secret we men deny the existence of.

  183. It isn’t going to help anything, particularly the lives of abused women as a group, to give them a pass on criminal activity, especially in terrorist acts. If charged they have a defense of coercion. Domestic abuse is so rampant in human societies that it seems to be hard wired into males. It must be a throwback to our more primitive past. It’s a tragic fact that humans have been so slow to properly address it and taken more effective step to erratic it. We all need to do more to help these women legally and otherwise. Having said that, a large part of the problem is the lack of action by abused women. Yes, it is difficult and dangerous for a woman in an abusive relationship to stand up to, seek redress or sanctuary from an abusive male in the household. The financial consequences are substantial. No one should underestimate the difficulty of the task and society as a whole needs to make it easier for abuse victims to escape. Domestic abuse is rarely, if ever, an isolated act. It will continue in a relationship; and continue; and continue. It becomes more and more tragic as time goes on. Women, more than anyone, despite all the love, hoping and wishing, should know that it will continue. Women are becoming more and more empowered every day and this is positive for society. But until this empowerment becomes the accepted birthright of all women from birth, no matter what station in life they choose we are only partly there. Education, as in everything else, will help.

  184. You may want to start by educating yourself on the reality of domestic violence and female perpetrators. It can hardly be said to be "hardwired into males" In my home state of Georgia fully a fourth of all temporary protective orders for domestic violence list a female perpetrator.

  185. There are a lot of comments here that show a breathtaking lack of psychological understanding. The fact is we do not know what Ms Salman knew about her husband's intended actions. She was in an abusive relationship, so it is likely she knew very little (if anything) of her husband's life outside the home. Keeping the wife/girlfriend in the dark (and a woman is usually the victim) is part of the power dynamic in abusive relationships. However, we do know that she was expecting him to come home the night he committed mass murder at the Pulse nightclub. I will wait to see what facts emerge from the trial. But whatever those facts are, a person in a relationship subject to violent coercion acts very differently from someone who is totally independent and aware.

  186. What proof is there to support claims of spousal abuse? I an unaware of any reliable evidence to support these claims-no police reports, no friends or family members substantiating these claims, no witnesses to abuse, no witnesses reporting bruises or other evidence of physical abuse.

  187. Rosemary, your comment is why so many abused women are afraid to report their abuse. neither the police not society, nor apparently other women will beleive them. you don't know or refuse to admit that women you now are victims of continuing abuse. Abuse of women by someone they love trains them that they have no way of getting out. That telling the police will only make it worse. Which is far too often true.

  188. Many today like to describe themselves and their friends as strong, intelligent, smart, independent, powerful, adroit, bright, worthy, capable, competent and good at most anything. Until we aren't or something goes wrong, and then it's usually someone else's fault. Everyone abhors a story of abuse, but does that absolve one of all responsibility for one's choices, actions and condition in life. Maybe we all need to reflect on the seemingly inconsistent messages and seeming effects. In this case, a jury will have to sort it out as best they can.

  189. Forty-nine dead people could have been saved if she dialed a phone. Let's ask Deborah Epstein if she'd spew all those rationalizations that fill her article if her husband had been killed by that madman and his accomplice. And let us fully understand, as the author does not, the knowledgeable wife is not just "someone - anyone" that we want to bring to justice, it is a bona fide criminal accessory who must pay the price for her complicity.

  190. The primary difficulty for the courts lies in assessing the degree of control/abuse/fear contained in each instance. While most (including me) would agree that someone under extreme duress is not necessarily exercising free choice, where is the line drawn? Each circumstance should stand on the facts known to exist at the time of the crime - those facts, however, are often difficult to confirm and very difficult to integrate into the action (or inaction) of the crime itself. Additionally, courts rely heavily on established case law, and there exists today a paucity of well researched cases for them to consider when trying to decide these matters.

  191. Thank you for starting a conversation about this. Unless you've been day to day trapped in an abusive marriage, you cannot possibly understand what these women have already been through, or why they didn't dial a phone.

  192. I would sacrifice myself of one to save many if that is what it took. If she was in a terrible, abusive relationship as I am sure she most likely was, it seems helping all these innocent people could have been her way out. Instead she did absolutely nothing and let it happen. There is no excuse for not preventing mass murder if you have the slightest ability to stop it.

  193. I would LOVE to see the percentage of synpathetic responses here broken down by gender.

  194. There is a difference between an explanation and an excuse. An abusive relationship might explain why she participated in planning a mass murder, but it certainly doesn't excuse it. Most bullies were bullied themselves. Most pedophiles were sexually abused themselves. Criminals often grew up around other criminals. And why did Omar Mateen do what he did to begin with? Surely there is some tragic background story of his life to create such hate and anger in a person (or, mental illness). So why not let excuse him for his actions as well?

  195. I wonder if she had contacted the police if they would have been able to do anything. The parkland shooter was well known to be at risk. That didn't change anything. Also until you actually do something terrible you are considered innocent. Wasn't she an isolated immigrant with a child and no other emotional support?

  196. The prosecution recently conceded that there WAS NO TRIP TO SCOUT the club. in advance of his attack. If she confessed to that, it was a false confession under coercion from the FBI, which she would have been particularly vulnerable to, given her history of being controlled and manipulated by her husband.

  197. Is there anything wrong with investigating this in an open-minded way? It's very possible that she was dragged into this. I have been there first hand, and I know. On the other hand, there have been a fair number of cases in which the wives were co-conspirators.

  198. There is no clear answer to the question posed in the title of this column because each situation is obviously unique in terms of level of abuse / control and degree of participation in planning an attack. However the writers seem to want the answer to be "no, abused women have no agency." The implications are absurd - any woman charged as an accessory to a crime could simply say she was abused and is thus not responsible. This is the sort of thinking that the Right might call the cult of victimhood. Salman's status as a victim apparently absolves her of all responsibility - regardless of the degree of abuse, since most would agree there is a difference between sporadic physical abuse and keeping someone as a prisoner without access to money or a phone; and regardless the degree of her participation, since there is a difference between going to scout a location with someone and observing a large box of ammunition. I don't know Salman's situation and will be interested to see what comes out at trial. But if she was a participant in planning the attack she should be held responsible; if she can credibly demonstrate she was abused or coerced that should be taken into account during sentencing.

  199. In my mind, I am always coolly able to handle any situation…”I would have…” imaginings are part and parcel of my imaginary life, right along with “I will…”. My decisiveness is indisputable, my selfless courage boundless, and my clear thinking in the midst of prolonged madness is 100% reliable. An 18-year-old boy with years of clearly exhibited mental distress (or an unforeseen moment of mental madness) kills many in a sad moment of breakdown…and he is “evil”. A woman knows of the violent power fantasies of her mate …she lives it…and she is complicit because she didn’t prevent his final act of madness. Thank god I can always make sense of the world.

  200. I believe Mrs. Salman should be charged. She had the opportunity to prevent the massacre at the Pulp nightclub in Orlando, Florida that killed 49 innocent people but decided to get on her husband’s side; she even helped him. To make that decision, you have to be a person without any core values. Let’s not misinterpret lack of human values with domestic violence. Domestic violence is a violent or aggressive act between 2 people at home; the abuse of a spouse or partner to the other.

  201. Yes, absolutely, she should absolutely be charged and prosecuted. She is an adult and being "scared" is not an excuse. To claim otherwise is to imply that women don't have agency.

  202. You are clearly writing this from a position of privilege, specifically that you have never lived in extreme fear for an extended period of time. Your lack of experience with something does not invalidate the truth of those who have lived it. Just because someone has the literal, physical ability to bring about change (agency), does not mean that the circumstances surrounding that person will allow the necessary action. It must be nice to sit on such a high horse and rain down judgement on others, but for all you know she had tried to notify law enforcement, and was violently prevented. Do yourself and everyone you engage with a favor and contact your areas local domestic violence and sexual assault response provider and gain some information on the reality of this trauma.

  203. This is not "women" we're talking about, but a single individual who lived in terror for her life and as we know, being terrorized - battered - takes away exactly that: agency. As the article mentions, a large proportion of these mass killers kill their spouse just prior to enacting their horric plans to kill. I find your lack of empathy, especially as a woman, for the victim of the daily terror she, and others in similar situations quite puzzling considering all that has been said about women like her. Perhaps you might reconsider if you would only try to imagine what it must have been like to walk in her shoes?

  204. I agree that she should be charged and tried, but also understand that there are situations where women are abused and without agency. This should all be a part of the trial. Automatically dismissing the serious charges against her just because she's an allegedly abused woman would be just as bad as not acknowledging that there are cases where abuse is so severe that women are without agency. Let's try this one and see where it leads us.