why domestic? why abuse?

an excerpt from a newspaper story from the UK:

top doctor who hit his wife 24 times is spared jail

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!)

isabella mori
counselling in vancouver

7 thoughts on “why domestic? why abuse?

  1. Seeing Eye Chick

    That ruling is not a mistake. Its an overy act of prejudice. It’s a mistake to call it something as harmless as a “Mistaken ruling.” It connotes that the Judge wasn’t fully aware of the implications of these violent acts against women due to some reasonable perspective.

    Beating women senseless, how can one mistake that overt act of violence for anything other than what it is?

    These women live in mine fields. They never know what act they will committ in the confines of their marriage, that will arm their husband like a bomb. They never know what individual act they will commit in the course of the day, that will justify HIS need to beat her into compliance and complete submission.

    And that you have a judge that is unable to comprehend that tells me that either the judge is incredibly stupid, or potentially just as mean as the men he all but defended.

    What do you suppose the verdict would have been if one of those housewives had beaten their husband’s bloody til they couldnt get up?

    Would the judge have sentenced them to jail, because clearly they have a lot of *idle time on their hands to plan and committ such crimes?

    Too busy to beat your wife? One assumes that it is anything more than a systematic method of ensuring complete obediance through repeated, seemingly random acts of extreme violence and the threat of violence.

  2. isabella mori

    you have an interesting point; calling this a “mistake” is perhaps a little too sweet. you call it prejudice.

    what do you suggest is a way of dealing with this prejudice?

  3. Seeing Eye Chick

    In the states, when a Judge commits a gross act of prejudice, there are ways to lodge legal complaints and to question their ruling and even potentially throw them off the bench.

    If there are large, organized women’s groups in England, I would contact them and see if there is some action or protest that could be undertaken.

    A judge is supposed to be a person who dispenses justice to the people. If that Judge is unfairly biased against women, then he cannot effectively dispense anything that looks like justice for female victims of sexually based or violent crime.

    I would look at his previous rulings in similar cases for one. Does he have a history of cases in which he systematically rules against women in cases where the women is clearly the victim of violent crime, then that is one way of showing prejudice. Look especially for snide comments in the ruling towards the female plaintiffs.

    Also: Is he politically active in any organized groups that are notorious for their archaic treatment of women and the rights of women? Although its not a sure thing, if coupled with proof such as suggested above, it certainly lends credence to the complaint.

    Has the Judge ever been accused of a violent act against a women, domestic violence, sexual harassment, etc., ? That would also show an interesting trend.

    Thats all I can think of right now. But certainly, if theses are clear cut cases of women being beaten by their husbands, and no significant act is taken to stop those men from committing similar future acts or punishing them for prior bad acts, then protest would be an option for starters.

  4. isabella mori

    oh no, don’t do this to me! have i ever mentioned here that my childhood dream was to become a private investigator? now you’ve put me on the track. hmmmm … so i guess we’ll hear more about this …

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