Tell the National Crime and Punishment Museum to Take Intimate Partner Violence Seriously

Intimate Partner Violence results in three (3) homicides in the United States every day.  These lives are not simply snuffed out as acts of “passion,” but are the horrific results of sustained patterns of psychological, sexual, and physical abuse as a means of sustaining power and control in an intimate relationship. Over the past three decades, states, local communities, and the federal government have worked together to pass comprehensive legislation making intimate partner violence a crime, ensuring the safety of families and children.

The National Crime and Punishment Museum mocks the seriousness of intimate partner violence by romanticising such homicides as crimes of “passion.”  The Valentine’s weekend exhibit “Crimes of Passion” makes light of a crime that affects thousands of Americans of all races, socioeconomic classes, ethnicities, gender identities, sexual orientations, and abilities.

Holla Back DC! is an organization that works to end public sexual harassment and assault so we are astutely aware of the often gendered aspects — and links between — intimate partner violence, public sexual harassment, and sexual assault. The foundation of all of these offenses is the appropriation of personal autonomy by one individual over the other.  Whether it is intimate partner violence, public sexual harassment, or sexual assault, the underlying offense is the subjugation of one individual over another and a complete disregard for the victim’s personal agency and welfare.

We respectfully demand that the National Crime and Punishment Museum live up to their social responsibility to the community by ceasing to promote such an exhibit as an event, particularly for a holiday based on passion, romance, and love.  No matter how you spice up this exhibit, intimate partner violence has a devastating impact on individuals, families, and communities and should not be taken lightly.

Please sign the petition we created on demanding telling the National Crime and Punishment Museum that Intimate Partner Violence is NOT a crime of “Passion” and that it is time they take IPV seriously!


28 responses to “Tell the National Crime and Punishment Museum to Take Intimate Partner Violence Seriously

  1. Pingback: This Valentine’s Day, Mock Domestic Violence at a Museum! | DCentric

  2. Pingback: Crimes of Passion Exhibit Causes Controversy - City Desk - Washington City Paper

  3. Raphaela Brown Rea

    Outrageous! Domestic (intimate partner) Violence contributes to a high number of deaths in the US and needs no mystique or passion associated with it. Domestic Violence is NOT a crime of passion but of either mental health related nature or power and control.

  4. If you look at the statement on the part of their site advertising the event, they do acknowledge that IPV is not a crime of passion:

    and Janine Vaccarello, COO no less, essentially restates it here, in the update:

    It is actually quite respectable, moral and satisfying to simply highlight what you think is wrong and tell the agents of it to GTFO. Museums are easy pickings for the likes of Bill Donohue and all manner of social conservatives–joining their ranks, if only for a moment, is no great achievement. If you wanted a real fight, you’d “respectfully demand” Harlequin to stop publishing books with ‘bodice-ripping’ plotlines and rapine male characters.

  5. Pingback: Museum News: Controversy at the National Museum of Crime and Punishment | Weekly Museum Visits

  6. WAMU’s metro connection just did a story on this “exhibit” and they did nothing to make the connection to domestic violence. I am sorely disappointed in WAMU and this program’s accepting and broadcasting of this sensationalized justification of murderous crimes.

  7. Terrible, ill-advised, harmful, and hurtful.

  8. My email to Metro Connection:

    I live in DC and work at an organization in the city that serves survivors of domestic violence.

    I was deeply disappointed by Metro Connection’s story about the Crime and Punishment Museum’s exhibit entitled “Crimes of Passion.” Generally, I greatly appreciate WAMU’s consideration of nuance, implication, and meaning. This story seemed to merely promote this event rather than to look behind the curtain- or to even consider that there might be a curtain to notice.

    There are too many people who are living with the very real threat of their own deaths because of abusive partners- not because of abusive partners’ “passion” for them. The “dark side of relationships” should not be exploited and sensationalized. Abuse is too common, complicated, and insidious. Events like this exhibit can serve to oversimplify the epidemic scope of domestic violence, minimize the trauma survivors experience, and exonerate perpetrators of responsibility.

    Depth and nuance matter. How we choose to portray events matters. Many of us rely on WAMU for thoughtful analysis. Please hold this trust sacred.

    Metro Connection is an important show. Please figure out how you can balance out this lack of consideration. You might consider a segment on survivor services.

  9. This argument doesn’t make any sense. In the first paragraph, you explain that intimate partner violence is not a crime of passion. In the second, you shame the museum for promoting an exhibit of crimes of passion. By your own logic, they are not romanticizing intimate partner violence.

    • Actually, we are saying in reality, intimate partner violence is not a crime of passion and shouldn’t be labeled as such. But, the museum is labeling domestic violence a “crime of passion” and we want that to stop. By labeling it a crime of passion, they continue to romanticize intimate partner violence.

      • I’ve got news for you. Anyone that has the penchant, the anger and the means to inflict violence upon another human being could give a rat’s rear end about what they name this event, my friend. They could call it “Pillow Fight to the Death” and the result is the same. They have their fun event, Domestic Violence continues and the rantings on semantics goes on and on and on and on.

      • You’re right, Frank. It can be named anything, but the point is we don’t want domestic violence to be put in an exhibit marketed during Valentine’s Day. Semantics is a strong reason to petition something.

      • Timothy McSweeney


        The exhibit profiles cases like Bonnie and Clyde, and other couples that commit crimes together, as well as cases like Hinckley’s would-be assassination of President Reagan to impress Jodie Foster.

        Poor taste? Sure, but the whole museum is. A celebration of domestic violence? Absolutely not.

        Basically, you’ve mobilized a bunch of activists to protest something that literally isn’t occurring.

      • Um, Timothy, we thinks your got your facts wrong. The exhibit did highlight at least two cases of domestic violence, which is why they then added language around domestic violence on their website (after pressure from DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence).

      • I think the intent of what was going on got missed. The tour was called “crimes of passion” and while it was a play on words ans slightly off color it has also been taken out of context. We should all know crime is never passionate in a positive sense. And putting information in to peoples hands is a good thing, can we at least agree on that?

  10. Get a life and have some fun never will support you again

    • Thanks, Joyce. We’re sorry to see you leave, but we don’t recognize your IP address, name or email from any posts since we started this blog. Not sure how you supported us, but we hope you find your fun elsewhere.

    • Why don’t you follow your own advice to get a life, Joyce. And support?! Woman, please…you know you’ve never been on this site before.

  11. I also don’t understand the controversy. According to WTOP’s reporting, the exhibit includes such items as the Hinckley attempted assassination of President Reagan in order to gain the affection of Jodie Foster. That’s not intimate partner abuse. I’ve not been to the museum, nor have I seen the exhibit. Are there, in fact, displays of intimate partner abuse?

    Neither do I understand how labelling intimate partner abuse as crimes of passion “romanticizes” it. A crime of passion is a crime committed in the “heat of the moment,” under the influence of intense emotion, when anger obscures the perpetrator’s ability to think rationally. There’s nothing romantic about that at all.

  12. Pingback: Museum’s handcuffed tour comes under fire |

  13. Although I have no love for anyone that supports or conducts domestic violence, Holla Back DC needs to find something else to do with their time. This is a voluntary event that falls under Freedom of Speech and Expression. If you don’t like the event, feel free NOT to attend. I’m sure that there are MANY other more productive uses of your time than to rally against this!

    Show up in front of courts where domestic violence offenders are being tried and try to sway the jurors as they walk in the building. Picket in front of halfway houses where known offenders are. Do something productive.

    • Freedom of expression is exactly what we are doing, Frank! Thanks for pointing that out. We won’t and didn’t attend. Actually, we and 300+ folks across the nation thought this was a good enough exhibit for us to rally around. We let prosecutors sway the jury, and don’t believe in picketing in front of “halfway houses.”

  14. Is there a misunderstanding of what “crime of passion” means here? It is a legal term:

    “a defendant’s excuse for committing a crime due to sudden anger or heartbreak, in order to eliminate the element of “premeditation.”

    Honestly, even as a former victim of domestic violence, I don’t see what the big deal is here. The museum doesn’t seem to be inappropriately making light of anything…their focus seems to be on crime in general, not domestic violence in particular. And if couples want to be handcuffed together while touring the museum then so what.

    • Hi Christine- thanks for disclosing the fact that you are DV survivor. DV is not a crime of passion. DV is a crime of hatred, manipulation, jealousy, control. Yes, defense attorneys use the “crime of passion” defense, but lay persons shouldn’t be told that DV is crime of passion because it’s not. And, we have NO issues with couples handcuffed together.

  15. You guys are stupid and I’m boycotting you. “Holla back”?? By your logic we will need to close the Holocaust museum, the Native American museum and the American History museum. Stop trying to get free press.

  16. Pingback: Violence & Passion: Not Synonymous | Change Happens: The SAFER Blog

  17. Why do you trolls visit a site that doesn’t pertain to you or match your beliefs? Do you see me visiting a misogynist’s site or visiting a site run by the Ku Klux Klan?! NO! I have no reason to visit those sites because they’re run with beliefs I am against. It’d be a waste of energy that could be spent on other things.

    Here’s the analogy I’m making here. Instead of coming here to whine and complain about what you don’t like about Holla Back DC!, why don’t you use your energy towards something more worthwhile and important? I know not everyone will agree with HBDC!’s views, but the bashing is beyond tiresome and is really lame.

  18. Pingback: photo: There’s work at the Post Office! | urban bohemian

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