Judge Sentences Domestic Abuser To Take His Wife To Dinner

Domestic abuse isn’t a joke. It isn’t a cutesy, pat-on-the-head, whimsical thing. Women in America experience 4.8 million incidents of violence from their partners every year. In 2005, three women a day were murdered by an intimate partner. It is an epidemic, and it is killing women. All abuse needs to be taken seriously.

So when a judge calls an incident of abuse “very minor” and — bogglingly — sentences the perpetrator to “take his wife to dinner,” it turns the prosecution of these incredibly serious violations into a joke and undermines every message that violence against women is wrong.

Florida resident Sonja Bray, 39, said that she and her husband, Joseph Bray, got in a verbal altercation when he forgot her birthday. The argument escalated until Bray pushed his wife on the sofa, held her by the neck and threatened her (though didn’t hit her) with his fist.  Mrs Bray contacted the police and her husband was arrested. This week in the courtroom, the presiding judge called the incident “very, very minor“, then asked Mrs Bray what her favorite restaurant was. He then ordered Mr Bray to buy her flowers, take her to a restaurant for dinner and attend marriage counseling. Case closed.

The judge did check with Mrs Bray as to whether she felt threatened by her husband and would welcome him home before imposing the “sentence.” However, many victims of abuse feel differently about the incident after it happens: where they first feel endangered and threatened, once they get to a place of safety they may feel guilt, shame and anxiety. And their partners often will be on best behavior, buying their victims gifts and taking them out for dinner — just like the court ordered — until the cycle starts again.

Sometimes, women are lucky. Sometimes, the abuse never repeats itself. But we have laws in place for a reason: to protect those who are vulnerable. And flowers and dinner isn’t what anyone would call a “deterrent” to violence.


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Photo Credit: The Raggedy-man on Flickr


Duane B.
.5 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson5 years ago

what an idiot judge! he is an enabler

Heather McGuirk
Heather McGuirk6 years ago

This Happened?!?!??!!! Unbelievable. If that judge had been assaulted and threatened like that you can bet the farm on it that he would want an actual punishment for his abuser. We should all be outraged at his flippant attitude towards violence against women.

Rose Becke6 years ago

This is a Joke

Eternal Gardener
Eternal Gardener6 years ago

Seriously, this doesn't sound like a good idea....

Jackie Agusta
Jackie Agusta6 years ago

Wow, maybe this is what the Judge does for his wife after he has ruffed her up!!! and to say that it is only a "very, very minor" incident is insulting, not only to the victim but to every other woman reading this as well :-(

dawn d.
Dawn D6 years ago

i'm so sick of this sh*t. REALLY SICK OF IT. the more i read everyday-the more i do not like men. i will not say sorry either. i understand not ALL men are evil,but the more i read.........
and i read ALOT.

Maria Davison
Maria Davison6 years ago

What amazes me about this article is that the JUDGE is not named. I read and reread the article and had to follow a link. Florida is a big state. What a shock to learn that it's John Hurley at the Broward County courthouse in Fort Lauderdale. I live here and hope I never have my welfare in his hands. Oh, the article left out that the order included bowling as part of the "romantic" evening.

Weng L.
Weng L6 years ago

What this man did to his wife was obviously abusive and violent. Throwing her on the sofa and grabbing her by her neck could already hurt her physically, mentally, and emotionally. If he had gone a little further, he could even have killed her. With this stupid, blind-to-the-heart judge giving him the "sentence" of going to dinner with her, buying her flowers, and attending marriage counseling is just letting an actual abuser possibly doing more abuse on her and not letting the abuser have the suitable punishment. The wife could have learned helplessness; when abuse happens again, she might not report and wonder what the system of law can do for her.
This superficial judge who possibly didn't understand how serious the matter was should be put on probation until he understands the seriousness of the matter and be able to have a suitable sentence. If this idiot shows no regret, his license should be taken away. He does not deserve to be served in any restaurant--that should be part of his punishment. He does not deserve to be served at Red Lobster or even McDonald's. If the wife is abused again, that's part of his fault.

Deborah L.
Deborah L6 years ago

This is almost as bad as in the bible, a victim of rape, provided she is a virgin, be forced to marry her rapist. This man had his hand around her neck. He could have easily killed her. By this judge ordering the dinner/flowers scenario, he has probably made this man livid and he will later take out his anger on his wife again, maybe after their "dinner".

I was married to an abuser. I told him the day we married if he ever got physically violent, I would divorce him. My dad was an abuser and as a kid you basically have to put up with it, but as an adult you do not have to. He got violent and I kept my promise to him. As soon as I could get help escape my house-not his- I met with a divorce lawyer the next available appointment. He kept me basically a prisoner, ripped the phone out of the wall-in the days before cell phones, every move even to the bathroom he was on me and would be no more than 3 feet from me. When I was able to get the phone working when he went into the other room, I was able to call my parents and thankfully it didn't go on the answering machine-I was able to only say 'come get me" and hung up. My ex was 2 levels down from a black belt in karate and when my family came they had police backup, 4 officers and of course he acted like nothing had happened at all.
That woman needs to divorce this man and the judge should be fired.