Jennifer Hudson’s Family Update

Early this morning, police found the body of a 7 year old black child in an SUV believed to belong to William Balfour and to have been present at the home when the shooting occurred. Police have not confirmed to the press that the child is Julian King. Hudson’s blog continues to ask people to pray and report any sightings to the police, but it has not been updated since last night. (UPDATE – Jennifer Hudson identified the body as her nephew Julian King shortly after this post was written. He was killed by the same assailant. END UPDATE)

While this case is receiving national attention because of the celebrity and talent of Jennifer Hudson, let us not forget that should Balfour be found guilty of these crimes, it is yet another example of the lethality of domestic violence relationships. Following the typical cycal of violence – Balfour and Julia Hudson’s relationship went from largely “quiet” and “happy,” as neighbors described the family, to one in which both police and family members were on alert. Just 2 weeks after Balfour started talking to his mother about Hudson requesting a divorce, potentially everyone home when the assailant entered William Balfour’s home was killed.

It is important to recognize the signs of an abusive relationship and to take precautions for your safety and the safety of your family and friends when exiting one. Lethality goes up to its highest point when you consider leaving. While this statistic is disconcerting, it should never be a reason to stay, as every incident carries with it the chance that it will be the last (either because the seeming hopelessness of the situation drives you to suicide or your abuser goes too far and kills you). Abused women often stay in relationships because of children, to protect family members who have been threatened, for economic reasons – like he owns the home, is some how responsible for your job or able to get you fired, the sole breadwinner, enmeshed in all of your work related social and economic contacts, or the sole name on all of the assets including the bank accounts, because of the social stigma that society still attaches to the victim/survivor of abuse, etc. These reasons can be exacerbated by being a member of a marginalized group: men of color can use the racism they experience as an excuse for their abuse as well as a reason to make you stay, ie that both police and society will take it as proof that men of color are “more violent” than white men or that he will be treated far more harshly in the prison system, etc. immigrant men can use the fact that they will be deported or that the family as a whole could be deported as another extenuating circumstance, and gay men can use the idea of a tight knit community against their abused partner, pointing out that one of them will lose access to friends, social and economic networks, that maybe the only ones in the area or may have been built up around them as a couple, and so on.

No matter what the circumstance it is important to remember that you deserve a life without emotional, physical, or sexual abuse from your partner. You deserve the freedom to move through the world without fear of reprisal, concern about humiliation or the “mood” your partner will be in at home or in public. You deserve to know love that is not based on the condition of how he feels today, this minute, or this hour. And to be in love with a person whose behavior does not leave you judged by your friends, family, acquiantances, or colleagues because he decides to punish or humiliate you in front of them to prove a point or to isolate you from them. Statistics show that no child brought up in this environment is immune to the effects of DSV or is some how unaware of the violence around them; whether you send him to his room to play or on overnights with grandma, kids know.

So while we are all watching and praying for Jennifer and Julia Hudson, and that this child is not little Julian, let’s all take a moment to reasses our own lives and relationships. Do you know someone who needs your help – to listen, to get them a crisis line or shelter number, to love them when everyone else has been shoved out or given up? Do you know your own rights in a relationship and are you getting your needs met? Have you overlooked or left unchecked the emotional abuse or signs of physical abuse of a colleague or old friend because “most of the time they seem so in love” or they don’t want you “in their business”? Or do you simply have some extra free time to volunteer at a shelter, a crisis line, or as a court or hospital advocate?

If Julian is dead, let’s all make his memory a catalyst for change and not just horrible tragedy.

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