I was really surprised when I read a headline on NBC News.com that said “Domestic Violence Victim Fired From Teaching.” Until I realized she worked for a Catholic school – then it somehow all made sense. The Catholic church has a pretty awful track record when it comes to advocating for victims, doesn’t it?
Second-grade teacher Carie Charlesworth was fired after warning the school about her husband’s erratic and violent behavior. She explained to NBC News:
She went to her principal at Holy Trinity School in El Cajon the following morning and told the principal to be on the lookout for her ex-husband. As many domestic violence cases go, this one has a trail of restraining orders and 911 calls. When Charlesworth’s ex-husband showed up in the school parking lot, the school went into lockdown.
Charlesworth and her four kids, who also attended Holy Trinity School, have not been back since the January incident. A letter was sent home to parents the following day, explaining the situation and noting Charlesworth and her children were being put “on an indefinite leave.”
Her and her kids are being put on “indefinite leave” for being the victims of domestic violence. How can this be?
On the one hand, I can understand a school wanting to protect it’s children and employees. But don’t Carie Charlesworth and her kids fall under that umbrella as well? It seems the “blame” for her husband’s behavior is being put unfairly on her shoulders. It is these types of situations that make it so hard for victims of domestic violence to come forward. How is it that it somehow ends up being an abused woman’s fault that she is being abused? She is going through all of the necessary channels to protect herself and her children – restraining orders, warning her employers. What is she supposed to do?
Three months after she received notice of her “indefinite leave” she received another letter in the mail informing her that she was fired for good, and “after 14 years in the district not allowed to teach at any other Diocesan school.”
I just can’t help but think this rings a familiar bell, one that shows that the Catholic church leaves victims of abuse out in the cold. Whether it is refusing to punish abusive priests, or blaming women for the abuse they have endured – the Catholic church has an awful track record with this sort of thing. I guess this teacher’s treatment should come as no surprise. I would just expect that an institution run on the tenets of Christ’s “love” would be more sympathetic. I guess not.