As San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi faces arraignment today on three misdemeanor charges related to alleged domestic violence, many are wondering why his wife is standing firmly by his side. The San Francisco Chronicle says it’s very common for victims of domestic abuse to refuse to report the crime or cooperate with the police or district attorney. Experts cite a number of reasons, including fear the violence will escalate if it’s reported, financial reliance on the abuser, worry over a custody battle for children, having nowhere else to live – or simply holding out hope the relationship will improve.
Mirkarimi’s wife, Eliana Lopez – who moved to San Francisco from her native Venezuela after becoming pregnant – faces an even more daunting scenario. “Not only is he in law enforcement and very politically connected, but she’s from another country, she doesn’t speak the language fluently, she doesn’t have family support here or political connections,” said Minouche Kandel, an attorney with Bay Area Legal Aid who specializes in domestic violence cases. “She’s in the middle of this very public maelstrom,” Kandel continued. “I’m sure one of her worst fears has come true.” Domestic violence experts said Lopez’s actions mirror what they see from hundreds of people they serve every year.