Who Spares A Thought For Abused Women?

by Annie Kaszina on September 27, 2007

In the last few weeks the UK papers have reported the
cases of two white, professional, well paid men who visited horrific domestic
violence on their wives and were treated remarkably leniently by judges. One of the two was a doctor.

Dr.
Stuart Brown
walked free from court, but was ordered to pay his wife a
paltry £500 ($1,000). He had thrown her
to the floor and punched her at least 24 times after an argument about a new
car

The
magistrate decided not to jail him because he had no prior convictions and was of
previous “good character”. The
magistrate told the wife beater: “No punishment this court could enforce could
come anywhere near the impact you feel this had on you, your profession and
your colleagues.”

Management
consultant Colin Read was fined £2,000 ($4,000) for branding his wife with an
iron and slashing her leg with a knife. The judge, in his infinite wisdom, considered that “special
circumstances” meant he was unlikely to re-offend. Besides, Read’s work commitments meant that he was too busy
to complete any community sentence.

One
of the wives must have agreed with the judge that her husband was not a bad guy
really, because she was decided to give the relationship a second
chance. While I do not condemn her for
this – because it is the nature of abused women to give endless second chances
and I certainly did it as much as the next woman – it is unfortunate. 

That
kind of behaviour reduces sympathy for abused women. It discredits them and the abuse they have experienced.  It can lead those who know no better, or
prefer to know no better, to think that both parties in the relationship are as
bad, or as sick, as each other. 

However,
what made my blood boil was the judges’ (male, naturally) curiously supportive
approach to the men in question. Clearly, These judges did not want the poor souls in the dock to be
treated unfairly.

And
what of their wives? 

There
is a cosy belief that lingers that once a woman is no longer subjected to
domestic violence the problem is over. Finished. History.

Silly
us! We didn’t know that. 

Once
an abuser is out of your life, sure you do your level best to get your life
back on track, but your past does a damned fine job of colouring your present.

You
feel fearful, angry, hopeless, worthless. You feel exactly what you were told you were. What you don’t realize is that those feelings will never be who
you truly are.

Abused
women suffer from our very own brand of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)
without knowing what it is or if we will ever recover from it. How could we, when we don’t even recognize
that that is what has happened to us?

The
UK judges mentioned above were concerned not to punish Brown and Read too
harshly. Not for one moment could they
have considered the punishment that Mrs Brown and Mrs Read are likely to
endure, a punishment that could reach well into the future.

Many
abused women fall out of the workforce for years on end in the wake of an
abusive relationship. They may be more
prone to alcohol and drug abuse, poverty, and physical and mental illness;
which means that their children also will continue to be punished. 

But,
hey, the judges didn’t think about that, at all. 

What
abused women don’t think about is themselves. That is to say that they think about their story. They berate themselves for not ‘bouncing
back’ to the person they were before when they were at their very
best. But they don’t think about
themselves as people worthy of care and consideration. They don’t think about themselves as
valuable human beings whose lives are precious. They don’t seriously think of themselves as people with a present
and a future. 

A
few days ago one woman asked: “I feel as if I am on an emotional
rollercoaster. My mood is very low and
still governed by him. How do I move on from him?” Clearly, she hasn’t. 

Like
so many abused women, he rather than she remains at the centre of her
world. For as long as that continues,
she will never move on.

When
an abusive man leaves, he doesn’t walk cleanly out of your life. Not for him the fabled line: “Darling, I’m
just going out to buy a box of matches” whereupon he vanishes without a
trace. 

Abusers
like to leave behind them a trail of blighted lives. More specifically, they like to know that they will leave behind
them your broken life. They would like
to be your life sentence, whether or not they are still with you. It
contributes to their feelings of importance and self-worth. They would choose for you not to get
back onto your feet. 

That
is the reason why they spend so much time programming you to believe that you
never will.

Nor
will you, as long as you see your life through their eyes. But that is why it is so vital to do abuse
recovery work. You discover how to look
forward not back. You discover the joy of being you.

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