Saturday, February 7, 2015

Dr. Raja Fayad shot and killed by his ex wife... domestic violence is not just a women's problem

The first article published about Thursday's shooting at the University of South Carolina alluded to the possibility that the murder victim, Dr. Raja Fayad, may have been a victim of domestic violence.  Today's article confirms that it was his ex wife and former housemate, Sunghee Kwon, who killed him and then herself.  The two moved to Columbia, South Carolina from Chicago, Illinois as a married couple, but were divorced.  For some reason, they continued their relationship and lived together until recently, when Fayad moved into a motel.

Neighbors reported that the couple had a lot of difficulties.  One neighbor even said that Fayad was "scared" of Kwon.  Reverend Dong Yung Kim, the pastor at the Korean Community Presbyterian Church, said that he had counseled the couple and his ex wife had even spoken to Kwon hours before the shooting occurred.  Apparently, after Fayad moved out of their home, utilities had been cut off and Kwon was having difficulties paying bills.  Reverend Kim also said that he worried about her emotional stability because she felt "betrayed".

I only wonder about what led up to this... I don't know for certain, but it sounds like Dr. Fayad probably endured years of abuse and emotional terrorism.  Even if he was inclined to seek help for his situation, I am sure that his cultural background and the local culture discouraged him from doing anything beyond moving out of his home and calling the campus police when his ex wife invaded his office at USC.  Think about it...  a Lebanese man living in the Deep South who is a victim of domestic violence perpetrated by his Korean ex wife.  It must have seemed like an impossible situation, but I can only speculate.

By all accounts, Dr. Fayad was a very good man, sensitive, caring, cheerful, a talented teacher and a bit troubled.  He sounds a lot like Bill.  Of course this is a familiar story to me.  When I told Bill about it, he said he'd felt like he had himself "dodged a bullet" when he ended his marriage to his ex wife and moved far away from her.  He believes she was every bit as capable of killing him when she would become enraged.  Fortunately, he's never had to find that out for himself.

I suppose the one positive thing in this situation, other than it potentially getting people to talk about domestic violence and realizing that it isn't just a problem that affects women, is that no children were involved...  or at least none have been mentioned in the stories I have read so far.  It's such a tragedy that this man lost his life and the university lost such an amazing teacher.

wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Moving on...  

I finally unsubscribed from Salon.com on Facebook.  An article I read by a regular columnist finally pushed me over the edge.  Remember yesterday when I wrote about Samuel Forrest, the guy in Armenia whose son was born with Down Syndrome and his ex wife told him to give up the child or get a divorce?  Well...  Forrest, who had set up a GoFundMe page for help getting him back to New Zealand and shared his story, had great success with his crowdfunding project.  When I wrote about his situation yesterday, his original goal of $60,000 was already smashed and he had reached over $180,000 in donations.  By last night, it was over $300,000.  Right now, it's up to $431,000.

Lots of people were moved by Forrest's story and lots of people have donated to his cause.  Apparently, the fact that Forrest is a MAN was a problem for the Salon.com reporter, who pointed out that women do what he did every day and don't get rewarded for it.  And yes, it's true that a lot of women end up raising their kids alone.  It's true that a lot of mothers have to figure out how to make things work all by themselves, even if their kids have "special needs".  Why does that mean we need to criticize Mr. Forrest for doing what he can to help his baby?  Why do we need to turn his story into yet another man bashing piece, reminding everyone that a lot of men walk away from their kids?  Forrest's story is not about those guys, who really aren't as plentiful as some people want to believe.  Besides, he's doing a great and brave thing, which the columnist acknowledged.  

Samuel Forrest's son, Leo, was born in a country where kids with birth defects or other issues that make them less than perfect routinely get dumped in orphanages.  I saw this firsthand when I lived and worked in Armenia.  It's a place where there is poverty that many Americans can't even fathom.  I don't know why Samuel Forrest elected to live in Armenia.  I don't even knock him for doing so.  Armenia is a fascinating place and parts of it are incredibly beautiful.  The people are warm and hospitable and wonderfully artistic and musical.  But it has serious problems.  Overcrowded, dismal orphanages are one of its big problems.  Thanks to Samuel Forrest's decision to be a loving dad, his son Leo will not have to live and die in an orphanage.  Why shouldn't people want to help him if they can and feel so inclined?

In fairness to Salon.com, it wasn't as much the article that upset me as it was the idiotic comments from the peanut gallery.  Salon's regular columnists are usually fair enough, if a bit left leaning.  Some of their guest writers are kind of wacko, but I will admit that even the icky stories are somewhat interesting.  It's the people who read and leave comments that usually make my blood pressure go up.  There really are a lot of people out there who seem to hate the male gender... and oddly enough, it's not always just women.  I get that a lot of men are jerks, but it's also true that a lot of them aren't jerks.  I get that a lot of women are "heroic" for raising kids with special needs or even kids with average needs by themselves.  But there are a lot of men who, given the chance, would happily take on the task of raising their kids.  My husband was one of those guys, but he was denied.  And then his ex wife tried to make him look like a typical male asshole.  Anyone who knows Bill personally, except for his ex wife, would never come away thinking he's an asshole.  But since he has a penis, she can spin her story that way for those who are eager to believe her.

I don't blame Samuel Forrest for trying to raise the money to help himself and his child.  His initial goal was not unreasonable.  It's not his fault his story struck a chord with so many people and resulted in so many donations.  I hope he will use the money for good and take very good care of himself and his son in New Zealand.  And hopefully, he won't have to use any of that money in a legal battle if his soon to be ex wife changes her mind and sues for custody.


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