Thursday, January 27, 2011

Daily Mail Fail of the Day - on domestic violence

Just in case you had thought that the Daily Fail had changed its ways after its shock and horror over the behaviour of now ex Sky Sports sexists Andy Gray and Richard Keys (which had more to do with bashing a rival newspaper group), we see today how they really don't understand what it is to be a victim of domestic violence.  They seem to think that a landmark and correct court judgement will lead to a stream of greedy women claiming a council house if their partner shouts at them.

They really haven't got a clue.

Anyone who has lived with a possessive, controlling, abusive partner knows that they don't need to actually hit you to cause severe, long term emotional damage.

Imagine having to account for every single mile that's been driven on your car and undergoing hours of interrogation as a suspicious partner accuses you of infidelity.

Imagine what it must be like to be verbally torn to bits because you used too much washing up liquid.

Imagine what it must be like to have your partner tell your young primary school age kids, maybe waking them up at midnight to do so, that you are useless and that they have never loved you and that they (kids) are just as bad.

Imagine a life where you have to think about every single thing you say, and where you actively don't broach certain subjects for fear of setting off a tirade of verbal abuse.

Imagine a life where you have no access to the family finances and are dependent entirely on what your partner who gives you too little money and expects too much from it.

Imagine a life where if you take longer than your partner thinks reasonable with a doctor's appointment, that they assume you're having an affair and interrogate you for hours.

Imagine a life where who you see and when is strictly controlled by your partner, leaving you isolated and friendless with your connections to your family severed.

Imagine a life where you're told that your children will be taken away from you and you will never see them again if you don't behave in exactly the way your partner requires.

Imagine the effect of alcohol added into that mix.

In all the examples above, nobody's hit anyone, but can you see how over time being on the receiving end of that sort of behaviour would be incredibly debilitating? How much self worth do you think you'd have if everything you ever did was criticised? Eventually you come to believe that you are worthless and that your partner has every right to be so exasperated with you. You don't see an escape and you feel powerless. What sort of environment is that to bring children up in?

That sort of behaviour is as damaging as actual physical violence. The Government knows that. That's why it defines domestic violence as:
 "Any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between adults who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality." 
The Fail seems to think that women will just be able to walk out the front door one day, go down to their Council offices and get the keys to a spanking new council mansion. The reality is very different. It's likely that the best the Council will be able to do is to put you in homeless accommodation, likely to be the shared, if not, likely to be in not the best state of repair and you may be moved from it at any moment to somewhere else.

You may have nothing but the clothes you're standing up in. If you're lucky you might have managed to grab a couple of outfits for yourself and each child as you made your escape. Your'e unlikely to have any of the comforts of home, that you've spent your life working for. They all stay with your abuser.

You might have to live far away from your support network, or your kids' schools. How do you continue to work if, for example, you work strange shifts and your abuser was integral to your child care arrangements?

Putting yourself and your kids through this sort of upheaval is not an easy thing to do. Most of  the time it happens after a sustained period of many, many incidents of abuse. Many people  are actually told by their partners that they can't get help if they're not being hit so it can take a long time before they realise there's a way out. Maybe that's by picking up a leaflet in their library, or seeing the Women's Aid phone number in their GP surgery.

It makes me furious to think that Councils think it acceptable to turn away victims of domestic abuse on the basis that they have not been actually hit. I'm glad that the Courts have accepted that the definition of violence can include non physical abuse. That should set a useful precedent because turning in need away is just not acceptable.

The Fail, implying that this will lead to women who are a bit pissed off because their husband shouted at them once demanding housing, is way off the mark as usual.

I watched a discussion on Newsnight Scotland the other night in which a psychologist, an academic and a policeman were almost struggling under the weight of the things they felt needed to be done to sort this problem out. As the policeman said, the actual violence is the tip of the iceberg. It's the deeply ingrained mysoginy in our culture where inequalities between men and women are tolerated and even encouraged that needs to be tackled. It's truly shocking that 1 in 4 women will suffer domestic abuse of some sort during their lives, and that 2 women a week are actually killed by their partners.

Women's Aid provide invaluable help and assistance to women who have been abused in all sorts of ways by their partners. They not only provide accommodation, but also advice and support for both the women and their children, to help them through the emotional and bureaucratic minefield they've just stepped out into. If you want to know about the realities of domestic violence, read their website, and not the Daily Fail.


martijn said...

Very good post, nothing to add.

used vehicle donation said...

Thanks for the post! domestic violence must be stopped.


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