Law enforcement just dropped assault charges against George Zimmerman, who allegedly threw a wine bottle at his girlfriend two weeks ago. According to the Associated Press, Zimmerman’s girlfriend recanted her statement, continuing a cycle of accusations against Zimmerman followed by recantations that are typical of domestic violence cases.
After Zimmerman was found not guilty in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, several women whom he was involved with spoke out about his abusive behavior. In a 2013 encounter that was caught on tape, Zimmerman threatened his ex-wife with a handgun. But Shellie Zimmerman refused to press charges. Two months later, girlfriend Samantha Scheibe told authorities that Zimmerman held a shotgun to her head during a dispute. At the time, he owned five guns — including an AR-15 assault rifle — and 100 rounds of ammunition. But when Scheibe asked prosecutors to drop the charges against Zimmerman, he was able to get his firearms back.
While the decision to drop charges means a court will, once again, never decide whether Zimmerman is guilty of domestic abuse, the patterns of Zimmerman and his accusers fall in line with the typical behavior of domestic violence victims. Whether they feel intimidated by their abusers or pressured by loved ones, many victims of domestic violence choose not to press charges. Perpetrators, meanwhile, often move from one victim to the next. A 2000 study found that 41 percent of abusers re-abuse their victim within a 30-month follow-up period, and another study found that almost half of people who had been arrested for violating a restraining order had two or more victims within six years. They also try to justify or minimize the extent of their behavior, as Zimmerman has done when he accused his girlfriend of going crazy and breaking a table in the apartment, in what experts call “minimization, denial and blaming.”
Every year, 4,774,000 women are physically harmed by a domestic partner in the United States.