What you say and post on social media matters.

Many individuals will read about a tragedy in the news, make a post or two about it to share on social media. After the post, their emotions may be negatively affected by the story, but ultimately they go on with their day. What most people don’t realize is that their little post actually has the power to change everything.

A client of mine had a precious child murdered during a unsupervised visitation with their abusive father. The judge had been warned about the lethality surrounding the abuser. The children’s mother had a restraining order against the father. If you were shocked to see this story on your social media feed, you shouldn’t be. A story similar to this is in the news on a regular basis. People will post about it for a day or two and then we move on to the next  sensational story. But if you want to lead the conversation to prevent future tragedies, you have to realize that what is being posted during this horrible time really does matter. Let’s discuss five of the most-shared yet most-harmful messages to never post after you read that a child (or anyone) has been murdered in domestic violence home.

  1. One of the very first type of posts I see on social media after a murder is the sad tear emoji.

And I understand, a parent murdering their own child is the most horrific act of violence imaginable. It’s completely natural to be shocked and devastated. But simply posting a sad emoji and moving on with your day is entirely ineffective. There are other children right now that judges are forcing into visitation with an abusive parent. These children at risk don’t need your tears — they need you to be mad as hell, and use your voice – they need you to show it.

There’s too much that needs to change for you to not use your voice to help. Child court systems should prioritize the safety of children above all else, but they don’t. Congress report in Title 15 also known as Kayden’s Law, reports the safety of children is not being addressed enough by courts and others. Also when a tragedy like this happens, it is revealed there were multiple reports warning about the danger of the murderer. All of this needs to change so that the child is always protected, but nothing will get better if we don’t talk about it and then follow up with “doing” something about it. That starts with the way we utilize social media to spread awareness and stand up for the child.

Why shouldn’t you just post a sad emoji? Because there’s so much else you could say and do, and there’s too much at stake if you don’t.

  1. Stop making excuses and giving ‘sympathy’ to the murderer.

Most people can’t even fathom how a parent could harm their own child so they analyze and ask the question, “How could this have happened?” Too often, people answer that question by making an excuse or giving sympathy to the murderer. People will post/say “He must have a mental problem,” or “He must have felt like he was losing his children” or “He must have snapped (not knowing that abusers don’t snap. Everything they do is plotted and planned and are always “in control”); or “He must have been pushed to the edge by his ex-wife.” And so on and so on. This sets up society to “collude” unwittingly and participate unwittingly in the manipulation and crime of the abuser. And by the time you get done reading all the things said and posted, you start to see the murderer as the ‘victim’ and focus on what/who drove him to do such a horrible thing. That’s the difference a few posts can make. You start off reading a post about a horrific murder of a child(ren) and once you’re done scrolling, you feel sorry for the murderer.

It needs to be understood that these perpetrators are not distraught or depressed people who ‘die by suicide’. To treat them as if they are is complete disrespect and invalidation to innocent people who do actually die by suicide and what they went through. These murderers are misogynistic, morally corrupt, lack empathy, and see their family members as property they own. They are entitled, narcissistic, sadistic, manipulative “predators” of family members and “family terrorists.” They KNOW exactly what they are doing and will use any technique of abuse with no remorse.  Should they kill a child or family member and then kill themselves – they are the minority abuser. Most abusers who murder their family members don’t kill themselves.

So calling what they did a ‘murder-suicide’ implies that the perpetrator took his own life in despair after having murdered. But that is no truth. In fact, perpetrators often threaten and even warn that they are going to commit murder before they do it. They are in some cases assassins who are willing to die in order to complete their attack of terror and murder which is ultimate power and control.

Our words and phrasing greatly matter. When you talk and post about these crimes, do not call them ‘murder-suicides’ and don’t make excuses for the murderer. Call them what they really are: Predators and murderers who are “the calculated assassins of children/family members, and the murderer is dead by his own cowardly hands.”

  1. All too often, we see sympathetic posts call these hideous murders “senseless acts,” which is incorrect and should not be posted.

A senseless act implies that it didn’t have a purpose or benefit. We may not be able to make sense of this crime, but it made perfect sense to the murderer who had a very calculated purpose for it.

These perpetrators terrorize and murder their children as a final act of taking back ultimate power and control. They do it as a way to permanently torture the person that dared to defy them and who they can no longer control. They also get pleasure in what they do.  The worst fear of an abuser is the fear of abandonment and if the wife/mother threatens to leave them, this “fear” becomes a reality. They will not allow themselves to lose and will do whatever it takes – including murder – to “win at all costs.”

By posting that these crimes are “senseless acts”, we are purposefully ignoring the fact that this was all part of the perpetrator’s conscious plan. As heinous as it is, these murderers kill their children because they want to and because it benefits them.

  1. When posting about these tragedies, never lose focus of the real problem — the fact that this murderer was allowed access to his victims by a system that does not protect children.

So many court systems believe that abusive parents should still have the right to visitations with their children simply because they are ‘family’. The children are told they need to have a relationship with their abuser. Congress Title IV also states that courts do not believe protective parents who report abuse and incest in family court.  They believe a perpetrator and make a victim prove they are a victim when it should be the other way around. Courts protect criminals and predators. More training needs to be mandated for judges and others who work on domestic violence and child abuse cases.  More children would be saved if everyone actually knew child abuse and domestic violence in the court system. Also, child protective services lack child abuse and domestic violence along with perpetrator certification training. This leads to systems designed to protect, not protecting and not being mandated to have the proper training in order to save lives.

These systems need to understand that abusers do not love their children (or spouse) — they own them. That’s why the abuser feels they have the ‘right’ to take their child’s and spouse’s life. These systems fail to recognize that. Like in this recent tragedy, if the mother is a victim of domestic violence and has a restraining order against the abuser, then the children are also victims of child abuse and should have been equally protected. Court reports will say that the child ‘witnessed’ or ‘experienced’ domestic violence but was not themselves abused — which is complete ignorance of abuse. How do you torture someone? By making them ‘witness’ or ‘experience’ the abuse of someone they love. For a child who not only loves but is dependent on the domestic violence victim, this is terror and torture. Domestic abuse IS child abuse. If there is a need to protect the mother, there is a need to protect the child. But these court systems care more about the abuser’s parental rights than the child’s right to safety.

The court systems are the ones at fault for allowing the murderer access to his children, and it is these systems that we need to focus on holding accountable. One way to do this is by using our social media posts to spread awareness of this awful systemic issue and fix it so that all children are protected. Keep the focus on the system that failed these children and allowed this evil man to commit this crime.

  1. Most importantly, do not be silent! If you see something, say something!

The worst thing you could do when you read a child has been murdered, is to not post anything at all. The victims of these murders, and many other children who are at risk of being forced into the same situation, deserve for you to use your voice and platform to help them. When you know about horrific abusive situations happening by reading about it online or seeing it in your own life, it is your responsibility to say something about it. Send the very clear message that you do not tolerate systems that protect the abuser’s rights and that you will always stand with the child and adult victims.

We must also use our social media platforms to call out the child advocacy and domestic violence and child protective organizations for not condemning the broken court systems that are allowing this to happen. Child abuse organizations call themselves experts in child safety and activists for children. But when murders like this happen, they are silent. If they do say something, it is usually just about ‘educating’ people on how to recognize the signs of abuse. All these messages do is victim-blame the millions of abuse victims who reported their abuse, but were not defended.

These organizations never say a word about the real problems: the failures inside the court system and multidisciplinary teams that allowed these murders to happen. These organizations have the platform, the money, and the obligation to stand up for these victims, yet they continue supporting systems that do not protect children. No more. From now on, use your social media posts to call out all those who are silent and who are not focusing on the real problem.

It is impossible to understand how anyone could harm a child — let alone murder a child. But these precious children were brutally murdered because of a system that hands them to a violent man. Research is clear that there are more men who abuse women then women who abuse men.  Most murderers of children are men who are known to children (Congress Title IV).

When you read that a child has been hurt or murdered, remember that social media is an incredibly powerful tool when changing the way people think and calling them into action. Don’t take your platform for granted. Use your posts to stand up for the child!