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White Plains Rally Targets Blaming the Victims

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Nearly 40 women from across Westchester gathered at the Westchester County Courthouse Monday to criticize published articles that they say blamed Amy Friedlander for the domestic violence tragedy that wiped out her whole family last week.

Hope’s Door , My Sister’s Place and the Westchester Hispanic Coalition staged the rally, which drew women from across Westchester. The attendees came cloaked in purple, the color associated with domestic violence prevention efforts, and waved signs reading “it was not her fault” and “quit asking what she did to ‘provoke it,’ start asking why he killed her" toward people passing by.

CarlLa Horton, the executive director of Hope's Door, said the he-said, she-said accusations flung around in the media after the Friedlander murder-suicide last Monday were a "classic" case of blaming the victim.

“One of Friedlander’s lawyer friends said if he killed her, he would bake a cake with a file in it and give it to him,” Horton said of a newspaper article that she said featured comments that insinuate Amy Friedlander’s actions must have driven her husband to kill her. “This sign is a symbol saying that there can be a very public image of a victim and a very private image of an abuse and they don’t always go together.”

Police said Sam Friedlander used a piece of furniture to murder his 46-year-old wife in their Cross Rivers home last Monday . It appears that the 50-year-old attorney then shot his two young kids and committed suicide.

Domestic Violence advocates said the homicides illustrate the need to educate Westchester families during October's Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

“This is mass murder and that’s what it should be called,” said Horton. “What we know is leaving is the most dangerous time for a victim. She had already filed for divorce. She was scheduled to appear in court. This woman was going to leave him and he clearly wasn’t going to let her go.”

Glenis Hunter, who helps run a domestic violence prevention program at My Sister’s Place, said some of the quotes that attempted to describe Sam Friedlander’s motivations were “hurtful.”

“It was a little inappropriate to print the comments, but I’m hopeful that comments like that will make people aware of what happened, so people learn they need to stop blaming the victim,” said Hunter, 23, of the Bronx.

The rally attendees would like to remind anyone suffering from domestic violence that assistance, advice and information about shelters is available via the Help Hotline at 888-438-8700.

Have you done anything to mark Domestic Violence Awareness Month this October? Join the conversation below.

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