Oprah: At Least 6 Years Late On Domestic Violence

The August 2009 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine, has a feature story (beginning on page 154, after the book reviews?!) on how the laws against domestic violence aren’t enforced. The piece, titled “Why Didn’t They Stop Him?” (by Phoebe Zerwick, photographs by Mary Ellen Mark) is an excellent one — and long overdue.

Not only did I pitch this story roughly 6 years ago to Oprah, but the horrible especially because it’s true story of the ordeal of Vernetta Cockerham which resulted in her daughter’s murder is really only half the story.

Every time I start to blog about Oprah and her ignorant stance on domestic violence (she thinks it’s as simple as leaving), I get so infuriated I have to quit; I have 7 posts in draft to prove it. And this one will be short so that I can finally get to posting something without getting so outraged or ill that I cannot continue.

For the past 6 years I’ve contacted Oprah by every means I could find: via her website’s online form, via email, via phone messages at Harpo, and even spoke directly to producers of the show — who told me the half-dozen books and another half-dozen studies on the subject weren’t enough; call back when I published my own book.

Grrr — I’m in the middle of a battle for my own safety & that of my children; the book, and 1 million other things, will have to wait.

Wait for the day someone wants to open their minds to the realities — before another woman &/or her child(ren) dies.

Yes, Oprah, I told you about the Massachusetts study in 2000 which said that as many as 60-80% of restraining orders are not enforced; and I have the personal experiences to prove it. Running from my abuser kinda kept me a bit too busy to write that book.

Yes, I told your staff about the U.S. Department of Justice study that same year which said that arrests were only made in:

47% of the cases in which the victim reported being raped

36% of the cases in which the victim reported being assaulted

29% of the cases in which the victim reported being stalked.

I especially went into great detail about what happens when children are involved in domestic violence cases.

And I emphatically stated how all of this not only results in victims having a loss of faith in the system, how it not only results in keeping victims with their abusers, but how it is further abuse of victims by the system & how it impacts the children involved.

I even offered to put myself at further risk by going on-air to discuss this.

So, while I applaud you for finally getting to the truth of some of the matters involved in domestic violence, Oprah, I wonder why it took you so long? Especially when you had 6 years of my nagging.

I wonder how much longer it will take for you to heed my voice and take up the other issues I have brought to your attention?

And I wonder how many more women & children will suffer & die during that time.

But I guess death just sells more that saving lives, doesn’t it; don’t worry, continue to ignore us, and you’ll have more deaths to put on the cover of your publications.

Oprah, and staff, be prepared for more calls & emails from me.


  1. For someone who faced abuse in her own life (albeit as a kid), Oprah is remarkably obtuse about it. I just found your blog and will keep reading. Thanks.

  2. Hi Judy,

    Thanks for the nice comments about my blog :)

    I don’t know what Oprah’s deal is regarding abuse… Like you said, as a survivor, she has some awfully ignorant attitudes about it. I don’t think she’s a magical being; but her reach is immense & so when she communicates to millions mythinformation, I just want to scream — no, make that I do scream. With her power, she’s dangerous perpetuating BS.

  3. I’m an admin for a domestic violence board online, and I have to agree with you about Oprah. We have threads going everytime she is on TV about this issue.

    I guess she is to proud to admit her fault.

    I have a friend of mine that has tried to get her book’s attention with the Oprah Staff, and it has to do with a story of domestic violence and the faith aspect.

    I hope you both get their attention. They truly need a huge BANG of reality about this issue. The myths don’t do anyone any good.

    lol glad to see we aren’t the only ones that see her ‘views’ as a bit simplistic and unrealistic!

  4. Hi Hannah,

    Oprah’s unfortunate stance on domestic violence keeps me from watching the show (and I only read the mag when I’m at my sister’s and the baby’s asleep or in a lobby or something). I continue to work on her & her team as well as a post about ‘why’ I think Oprah responds this way. Hopefully, I can get that done soon — but it’s emotional & takes time. *sigh*

    Thanks for stopping by — and for all the work you do!

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