Monday, 19 March 2007

I don't understand

I've just seen a Channel 4 documentary on domestic violence.

I didn't realise that domestic violence is the biggest killer of women under 40 in the UK. It kills more than cancer and more than car accidents.

The programme was disturbing and upsetting. There was no footage of violence, just women talking about their experiences. And the only voices that weren't masked were those of relatives of the killed and police officers.

I don't understand this crime. I was trying to figure out whether the men who hit their partners actually think that love is at the heart of the relationship. I don't know whether, if they didn't beat their wives or girlfriends, they'd be involved in fights outside pubs on a Friday night. I wasn't sure whether these people just need violence in their lives and a partner is just a convenient punchbag. If not this, then are they thinking they're in love and it's an emotion they can't handle which is why they lash out?

I did wonder whether there's a male version of PMS. I behave abominably towards Dave when hormones take over. I say things I don't mean and, although I don't use violence, I know my words hurt. Is domestic violence the equivalent for the inarticulate? Is it the only way these people can express themselves? Somehow I don't think so.

I'm absolutely not trying to excuse this behaviour but I would like to understand it.

One thing the programme did highlight was people's reluctance to record violence they know is happening to a friend, relative or neighbour. The message was, report it.

I didn't need the advice. I'm such a nosey, interfering individual that I would already have called the police when I suspected something. I wouldn't have waited until I knew it was happening.


northernlight said...

Domestic violence is such a huge and complex issue. I have spent a fair amount of time talking to victims of domestic violence. A common response is: "Why don't they just leave their partner?"
But it is complicated as they are often economically dependent on their abusive partners, their self-esteem is rock bottom and often they have children together. It takes a lot of courage to leave someone who is controlling your life.
From a policing point of view, these cases rarely come to court and the conviction rates are lousy.
It was a depressing programme and it had a slightly dubious title, but nevertheless these stories needed telling..

Ann said...

I understand why people don't leave. It's a leap into the unknown whereas the existing situation, whilst unpleasant, is at least a known quantity.
I still don't understand the motivation of the abuser.

northernlight said...

I don't get the motivation of the abuser, either. I also had to speak to a project which deals with male perpetrators and some of the perpetrators themselves. (I found it very difficult). They have low self-esteem, usually, blame the women for all their problems, usually have experienced violence at home when they were a child, or some other emotional abuse. Often they are poorly educated (but not always). I didn't particularly like anyone of them. It didn't matter how much poetry they wrote.