Unfortunately, you can do everything right, and still be harmed by an incompetent justice system.
Who Was Lauren McCluskey?
Lauren Jennifer McCluskey was an athlete from Pullman, Washington. Not only was she talented in track and field, she was also passionate about volunteering. Lauren volunteered at the local humane society where she helped socialize cats so that they were prepared to find loving homes. Lauren also volunteered at the YMCA, and the special olympics. In her free time, Lauren enjoyed spending time with friends and occasionally doing stand-up comedy or karaoke. Lauren was a devout Christian and, in her youth, she attended the Community Congressional Church of Christ, and went on to become a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
While out with friends at a bar, Lauren met a man who introduced himself as Shawn. Shawn claimed to be 28 years old and attending Salt Lake Community College. Before leaving the bar, Lauren gave him her number and the two later met up on a date. Initially, her friends liked Shawn, but they began to have concerns. According to her friends, Shawn attempted to control what she wore, who she spent time with. He did not like her going out without him because he was afraid other men might talk to her. It has also been reported that Shawn started phone calls asking, “Where are you, what are you doing, and who are you with?” After doing some research about Shawn, Lauren found out that his name wasn’t Shawn, but Melvin Rowland. And he wasn’t 28, he was 37. Most concerningly, Rowland was a registered sex offender with a long history of sexual violence against minors. Lauren confronted Melvin and called off the relationship.
Lauren ended the relationship on October 9th and was murdered by her ex-boyfriend on October 22nd. Between October 9th and October 22nd, Lauren had called the campus police multiple times to report harassment by Melvin Rowland. The campus police were so ineffective in protecting Lauren, that she actually called the Salt Lake City Police Department twice. Unfortunately, the Salt Lake City Police Department did not have jurisdiction and thus could not help Lauren since the crimes were occurring on campus. The officers on campus did not take the precautions they should have in order to protect Lauren. Officer Miguel Deras actually showed off the explicit photos of McCluskey that were used by Melvin to blackmail her. Officer Miguel Deras bragged that he could view those photos whenever he wanted, and that he was “lucky” to get to work Lauren’s case. Unfortunately, though Deras’s actions were disgusting, Utah law does not specifically address them. Therefore, he was not prosecuted for any wrongdoing.
Lauren’s case makes the need for changes obvious. After her murder, Lauren’s parents started the Lauren McCluskey Foundation. The Lauren McCluskey Foundation is dedicated to improving on-campus safety, and supporting causes Lauren cared about such as animal welfare, and amateur athletics. Their mission is as follows: “Our mission is to let Lauren’s light shine by supporting her passions, including animal welfare, amateur athletics, and by making campuses across the country a place where students are safe, supported, and have the ability to thrive.” From the statistics, we know that one in four women have been physically abused by a romantic partner in their lifetime, and one in seven men have been subject to severe abuse by their domestic partner.
Boundaries vs Abuse
Every relationship has boundaries, even if they aren’t expressly stated. However, some people are choosing to manipulate the term boundaries and use it to control their partners. To make this abundantly clear: boundaries aren’t about setting rules for the other person. Boundaries are about setting rules for yourself. Here’s an example of a boundary: Jim doesn’t loan money to his parents because he’s learned that, in his family, loaning money causes a lot of drama. Here’s an example of manipulation: John tells Mary that if she goes out with her friends, he’s going to leave her for violating his boundaries. According to reports, while Melvin and Lauren were together, he would try to control the relationship by attempting to control who she’s with, where she goes, what she wears, and more. When a person sets boundaries, they set boundaries for their behavior, not your behavior. If you’re in a relationship, and your partner is starting to dictate who you can be around, where you can go, what you can do, and more, it may be time to re-evaluate the relationship.