an excerpt from a newspaper story from the UK:
a senior doctor who savagely beat up his wife after they argued about buying a new car has escaped a prison sentence. anaesthetics consultant stuart brown, 37, threw his wife to the floor and punched her at least 24 times as she lay at his feet.
the vicious assault on carol mcewan followed regular verbal and physical abuse during their seven-year marriage.
but brown, 37, who is thought to earn £100,000 a year, walked free from court after being ordered to pay her just £500 in compensation.
presiding magistrate john warne told him: “no punishment this court could enforce could come anywhere near the impact you feel this had on you, your profession and your colleagues.”
the case was heard in the same week a management consultant was fined just £2,000 after branding his wife with an iron because she had not pressed his shirt.
he also slashed her with a knife after she forgot to make his sandwiches.
read was even spared a community punishment because the judge ruled he was unlikely to reoffend and he was “too busy” to complete any order.
this just boggles the mind. but rather than wringing my hands, i’d like to ask these questions:
how can we prevent domestic abuse?
how can we prevent judges from making such enormous mistakes in domestic abuse cases?
these questions are not easy to answer. one idea might be that there is something overly mild about the word “abuse”.
use, abuse. we use all kinds of things, all day long. and then we just stick a little “ab-” onto this innocent little word. abuse.
translated into relationships, one could be left with the feeling that certain forms of “use” are just fine in a relationship. a little slap, perhaps? a few minutes of in-your-face yelling? (“but let’s not leave any marks, shall we, because that would step over the fine line between use and abuse. ooops, that iron got a little too close.”)
then we have this other comfy word: domestic. home and hearth and slippers. nothing bad can really happen there, can it?
no, gentlemen, let’s not call it domestic abuse. let’s call it violence, assault or battery. or, in all-too-many cases, attempted homicide.
(for reference: “domestic abuse” shows up almost 10 million times in google; domestic violence 2.6 million; domestic assault 255,000 and domestic battery 158,000)
(and another bracket: this post was included in the 31st carnival against sexual violence. a fantastic resource – please check it out!)
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