Do you know which two words I think are such an oxymoron? Domestic violence. Domestic to me is anything familiar, safe, homey. Violence is the opposite. Put them together and you have a politically correct way of saying that someone is getting the shit kicked out of them by a psychologically damaged spouse. I don’t care to use textbook terms like domestic violence. I rather prefer incorporating the words abuse, beating, and other blatant unpleasantries into my vocabulary. I’m not politically correct when it comes to abhorrent behaviour. Besides this is my blog and I’ll write what I want to.
I watched a 1996 movie starring the late John Ritter yesterday on Youtube. It is entitled Unforgiveable. Damn, that man could act and he acted like a bastard in this movie. I didn’t know he had it in him. I fondly remember him as Jack Tripper on that crazy sitcom Three’s Company. That show was so successful it ran for 8 seasons. Only a few sitcoms have ever topped it including M*A*S*H* which came to an end because Alan Alda had grown weary of playing that scamp Hawkeye every day. Anyhoo. In Unforgiveable 1996 Ritter was a mean bastard. The movie opened with a scene I was not expecting. He’s in the washroom, splashing his face with water, still wearing his shirt and tie from work. “When I’m busy with a client I cannot be disturbed,” he says with an edge in his voice. There is no one in the bathroom and for a moment you think he’s nuts. Then he walks into the master bedroom and his wife is cowering on the floor, a bloody lip, a black eye, weeping. “You told me to call and check in with you.” “Next time ask the receptionist what I’m doing. If I’m with a client you can either call back or leave a message.” He kisses her, wipes away the blood, swears he loves her. She apologizes to him over and over. She lets him hug her and bawls on his shoulder. “Hey, I love you,” he whispers as if he means it. You just want to … whack him one. The film doesn’t continue endlessly in this manner. It eventually gets to the point: Ritter joins a program known as Q.U.I.T., for men who batter women. It’s a lot like AA, except on occasion, tempers ignite and accusations fly. I don’t know if there is such a program by that name, but there are many counselling and support groups for men who abuse their wives and children.
I’m no regular reader of the Good Book but there is one quote in the whole Bible that has stayed with me since my teen years: Thou shall not cast pearls before swine. Love it. Okay, so that isn’t the correct wording but it’s close. And before you get your knickers in a knot, I know the phrase doesn’t apply to domestic abuse (The real meaning is not to waste Jesus’ wisdom on perverse losers who don’t give a damn and will use your words against you). However when I, yon blogger, quoth a phrase it means anything I want. That said, don’t waste yourself on a mean bastard. The Man didn’t want anyone living a life of abuse. Sometimes you pick the wrong marital partner. Meh, happens. Now get over it and run for your freakin’ life.
Case Study # 2 – Amy Homan McGee, 33 – was shot dead inside her house by her husband while her children waited outside. They were married for only four years until her death.Their love affair started in 1997 in State College, Pennsylvania, where she worked in a home store; he drove the armored truck that picked up money from the shop. And shortly after they met, they had their first son. Before they had the child, McGee started driving her to work and picking her up every day. He called the store incessantly. He checked her schedule to make sure she wasn’t working alone with men. Then there were the bruises that came from “softballs” and “falling boxes.” But there was no way to connect the dots at the time. Amy’s co-workers noticed strange behavior, going so far as to draft a fake schedule to throw McGee off track. Amy’s parents drove her to the police station to get a protection order. The incidents seemed disjointed and no one realized that it would lead to murder. In general there is a cohesive timeline that clearly shows the danger signs in all domestic violence. Just as important as learning to recognize the signs is when police or other services step in and make it stop.
BTW, I’m not gender biased. There are women who abuse men and they
are nasty bitches. They also verbally and physically abuse their spouses and their husbands do not fight back. I doubt these men even try to subdue their wives since it probably makes them even meaner. It’s much more difficult for a man to admit he is being abused by his spouse (a man or a woman). There is an element of total disbelief as confirmed by friends, family, police, and medical personnel, especially when those persons are also male. This discourages the male victim from seeking help and admitting the truth. A double-edged sword making escape seem more futile.
Case Study # 2 – I read a non-fiction article written by a detective who was investigating a dreadful accident. A woman had been practically slaughtered by a car. When he saw her he could hardly tell she was human: her and her skin appeared to be flayed from her face, she was so bloodied and lopsided, it was apparent a number of bones in her face were broken. Shaken, the detective asked her if she got a look at the license plate of the car that hit her. She barely managed to answer and he had to lean down close to her mouth to hear what she said: “It wasn’t a car accident. My husband beat me up.” Later the detective wondered what kind of sickness this woman had in her head and her life that she would remain with a man who did this to her. I understand him completely. Before your inner feminist starts freaking, consider that abuse doesn’t begin with this type of devastation. It snakes its way into a relationship from relatively mild (a push, a slight slap). to moderate (a black eye, a twisted arm, visible bruises), to horrific (the woman in this story). This woman stayed with her husband for so many years that finally he left her permanently disfigured. One researcher gets angry when she thinks the victim is being blamed. “‘Why doesn’t she leave?’ needs to be ‘why does he beat her?’”
Yes and no. Who cares why he beats her? In spite of the uplifting ending of Unforgiveable 1996, most abusive men never change their behaviour. You can question it forever but once it starts the only sensible move for the abused spouse is to get out of the marriage. And fast. What really staggers me about American and Canadian-born women who are beaten by their husbands is the majority of these women know there is help to be had. They know enough to call the police. The police offer referrals to hostels, soup kitchens, subsidized housing, women’s counselling and on and on. The police department where I worked in Brampton, Ontario had a small unit called Victim Services who visited victims at a crime scene or at court and put them in contact with social services. Most police departments in Ontario are required to have one, depending on the population size. Canadian women know these programs are there. We need to pick up the phone and access them. That’s why they’re there.
To me, remaining with a savage spouse would make more sense if you were not the first-born member of your family lineage, or you and your family hail from a culture or religion (let’s say Muslim), where women are less than chattel, abused regularly as expected between a man and his wife (never the other way around however). Now these are women who are truly caught in a situation from which there appears to be no escape. It sounds easy to tell a person who lives in a country that isn’t their homeland and who may not speak the dominant language that the onus is upon her to leave and to take her children with her. The latter is truly impossible. How will she live? Who does she know to help her help herself? Iraqi men for instance own their families. Islam is promoted worldwide as a kind benevolent ideology, embodied in the Qur’an. It is adored by Wife Beaters who say first give your wife a chance to obey before slapping her around.
Saudi Cleric, who runs a sort of Iraqi talk show, has coached young men how to “beat your wife like a lady. Before you beat a woman, first admonish her—once, twice, three times, four times, or ten. If this doesn’t help, you must turn to the teaching “refuse to share their beds. If this does not help, then the husband’s third option is to beat his wife lightly so it will not leave a mark.He must not make her face ugly. Beating the face is forbidden. If a man is angry with his wife—if he says to her, “watch out, the child has fallen next to the stove,” and she says, “I’m busy” then the husband should beat his wife with a toothpick or something like it. He should not beat her with a bottle of water, a plate, or a knife. Notice how gentle the toothpick used for beating is—this shows you that the purpose is not to inflict pain.
Okay let’s crack open everything that is wrong with this scenario. Why is the wife supposed to be obedient? Why do these couples have zero communication skills? What mother in the world would ignore her baby when it is faced with peril with an “I’m busy.” (although I might tell him to get off his ass and grab the little one). This is serious advice. Of course we all know that no one gets beaten with a toothpick. And although I have witnessed domestic abuse among families of Islam before, I am very certain that what i have seen isn’t a “ladylike beating.” In fact, Cleric himself admits “many husbands beat their wives only when they get angry and when they start the beating they use both hands and sometimes their feet as if they are punching a wall.”
In Montreal, Canada an entire household of Afghanistan women were murdered by the husband, wife and son in the family. One sad night, the family car was found floating upside down in a river. Four women in the car were discovered; the husband’s first wife and his three daughters. At first it seemed like a tragic accident. Then upon further investigation it seemed odd that four people weren’t wearing their seat belts. One or two in a car perhaps, but four? A wiretap placed on the family’s house recorded the husband, Shafia and second, preferred wife, Yahya talking about their daughters 20 days after they died. “If we remain alive…we have no tension thinking our daughter is in the arms of this or that boy, this or that man,” Shafia said. “God’s curse on them for generations. May the devil …(expletive) on their graves. Is that what a daughter should be? Would a daughter be such a whore? They committed treason from beginning to end. They betrayed humankind. They betrayed Islam…They betrayed everything.”
It didn’t take long for the police to uncover the homicides of four women in this Muslim family. The husband didn’t want his discarded wife alive; she was barren and he soon replaced her with Yahar who bore him four children. Rona was permitted to remain in the family but the two treated her poorly and Shafia beat her. The son and Yahya assisted Shafia in drowning the four women, then placing their bodies into a Nissan Sentra and pushing it into a canal, The preferred wife wept into a tissue in court and pleaded for her own freedom “Your Honor, I am a mother.” Was a mother. Two of the murdered girls had begged authorities to help them, asserting they wished to leave the home.
- 70-80% of intimate partner homicides, no matter which partner was killed, are preceded by physical abuse against women.
- In the USA, almost one-third of female homicide victims are killed by an intimate partner.
- In 2008, there were 569 shelters across Canada providing residential services to women and children escaping abusive situations.
- Transition homes (47%), providing short- to moderate-term housing, and emergency-type facilities (26%) made up the majority of shelters in Canada.
- Police-reported spousal violence has steadily declined over the past 10 years, decreasing 15% between 1998 and 2007.
- Girls under the age of 18 reported higher rates of both physical and sexual assault by a family member than boys.
- Senior female victims killed by a family member were most commonly killed by their spouse (40%) or adult son (36%). In nearly two-thirds of family homicides of senior men, an adult son was the accused killer.
Steps to Getting Out
- Reporting and documenting incidents is the PRIMARY tool. Courts won’t consider unreported incidents when ruling on restraining orders, or child access.
- Wife, get thee to (no, not a nunnery), an emergency hostel. Some of them allow habitation for up to one month.
- Husband, you aren’t so lucky: donors, grantors, and foundations rely on statistics which tell them men are able to work to support themselves and to find a permanent relocation on their own.
- Tell your family and friends.
5. Always be accompanied by the police if you return to the home
you shared with your spouse to collect your belongings.
6. Men and women: If you are denied access to a hostel for any
reason, ask your local program to get you a hotel room for a few
nights or help you find other alternatives.
7. If you visit the hospital to get stitched, tell them the
situation and let them help you find other accommodations. Don’t
feel awkward; you wouldn’t believe how often they see this stuff.
It’s their job to assist you.
There is escape. Find it.