By Ginia Bellafante
June 10, 2016
On the night of June 6, Michelle Marks, who was 23 years old and lived in the Albany Houses in Crown Heights, was leaving her job at Fornino, a pizzeria a few miles away in Brooklyn Bridge Park, when she was shot in the head and killed. The day before she died, Ms. Marks had filed a report with the police alleging that her former boyfriend, a man with a criminal record who was three decades her senior, had assaulted her at the Albany Houses, trying to grab her groceries. This was the third domestic incident report involving the couple within the course of a few weeks. On May 16, the police said, Ms. Marks had called 911 after she opened the door to her apartment to find the man, Lamont Wright, lurking in the hallway outside.
Over the past several years, the issue of campus sexual assault has managed to sustain American attention in a way that few issues regarding the welfare of women, or the welfare of anything, have managed. This was made clear again last week in the outpouring of rage over the lenient sentencing of Brock Turner, a Stanford student convicted of sexual assault. There were calls for the judge, Aaron Persky of Santa Clara County Superior Court, to be removed from the bench, and an old friend of Mr. Turner’s who had written a letter to the courts in his support found that her band was suddenly the object of a boycott in Brooklyn.
The statistic that one in five women will be sexually assaulted is surpassed by the figure that one in four women will experience domestic violence in the course of her lifetime, according to data supplied by Safe Horizon, a victims services group. Yet there remains a distinct disparity in our collective interest. Sexual assault has come up during the presidential debates (and during the last Oscars ceremony); domestic violence did not. “There are these moments around incidents like Ray Rice, ” Safe Horizon Deputy CEO and Chief Program Officer Liz Roberts said, referring to the former N.F.L. running back who was videotaped punching his fiancée, “and then there is a fading away.”