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Can anyone help me answer this comment re the domestic abuse report out today?

(22 Posts)
TheGirlFromIpanema Thu 27-Mar-14 17:04:58

So, I have a relative who has posted the following on fb.

I can't unfriend him and call him names (well I could) but he is a person open to reasoned debate I would say, if a little old fashioned in some of his views hmm The "letting a moan get in the way of the facts" comment is directly aimed at me I suspect, although not maliciously.

The police are accused of not following up on cases of domestic abuse.
At risk of "letting a good moan get in the way of facts", men who beat up on their wives (or, indeed, vice-versa!) should be behind bars, end of story. Problem is... the police and ex-police I number in my circle of acquaintances tell the same story of midnight 999 calls for help because they are being beaten up by a husband who has just got home from the pub and wants a punch-bag to ease his stress
Typically, the offender is arrested and spends the night in the cells but when the police go back to the wife to collect the evidence for prosecution she rescinds her complaint. This is said to happen in many more cases than not. No excuses, but it would be surprising if there was not a degree of police scepticism whenever they attend these cases.
It doesn't seem to matter whether the police want to prosecute or not, if there is no complainant there is effectively no case unless the injuries sustained are really serious. I don't know what the answer is, but it seems to be little good blaming the police unless the rules are changed to let them prosecute proactively without support from the spouse (with some prospect of success)
In days past, with closer families and communities, there were often close friends or relatives of the victim who were quite happy to discuss matters with the bully in language he was sure to understand.... and Mrs Bobbitt seems to have an alternative suggestion....

I started to type a response along the lines that it is blaming the victim rather than the abuser or those meant to protect them, but I sounded wordy and not convincing.
Also, from what I have read today the blame is being laid firmly at the door of the police in many cases, ie not taking the most basic of details in order to ensure a conviction.

I would like to answer coherently and let this relative know once and for all that I am not a loony lefty lentil weaver which is what he seems to mostly think of me (in my perception). He is a clever, educated man. How do I challenge his views, any ideas's of something short yet effective? (Unlike my post blush)

tribpot Thu 27-Mar-14 17:20:40

I think his fundamental mistake is in believing that the victim withdraws the complaint because the offence did not happen. One need only read MN to know that this is simply not the case. The victim withdraws the complaint because going through with it is appallingly difficult to contemplate in the cold light of day.

Can an overstretched police force do more? Well, maybe. They have more resources of time, manpower and money than the victims of domestic abuse do to change their behaviour en masse, which seems to be his solution to the problem. The report notes that dealing with domestic violence is a specialist policing activity, and that some police forces do better at it than others. So clearly there is room for improvement.

Must it be horrendously frustrating to be called back time after time to the same address, where someone is suffering potentially serious injury but refuses to remove her (or him) self from harm's way? Yes. And I sympathise with all those who deal with victims of domestic violence, it is frustrating enough just reading it on MN. Which is why it probably needs to be dealt with by specialist officers who understand the nature of domestic violence and the difficulty of ever having a moment of clear thought about getting away.

JuliaScurr Thu 27-Mar-14 17:21:12

if somebody drives a car over the speed limit, while drunk, with no insurance and crashes into your car - your report is sufficient for the police to collect evidence and prosecute them, irrelevant of what you say later. Domestic violence should maybe be the same
(there are possibly problems with this method)

BillyBanter Thu 27-Mar-14 17:21:45

I haven't seen the report or reports of the reports and I'm not sure what you want to do with this.

I would say While it must be frustrating for the police when women feel unable to go ahead with pressing charges for whatever reason, this report was not highlighting this but how often the police fail to do all that is required of them, regardless of whether the women is likely to go ahead or not. In these instances the police are to blame for the procedures they get wrong.

Also I would ask what he means by scepticism. does he mean cynical that the woman will withdraw her statement or does he mean sceptical that the report is genuine?

He seems to contradict himself. First he speaks of the problems for police when they try to prosecute without the spouse's support then says the law needs to change so the can prosecute without the spouse's support.

I'm not sure he is blaming the victim as such just saying how frustrating it must be for the police when someone, sometimes continually, rescinds their statement after being attacked.

Back in the day when the community had words very few in the community did in fact have words. Most saw it as none of their business how a man 'managed' his family.

JuliaScurr Thu 27-Mar-14 17:22:56

as tribpot points out, some women have good reasons for withdrawing complaints

TheGirlFromIpanema Thu 27-Mar-14 17:28:46

Thanks thanks I knew there would be ways to say it and I knew here would be the place to ask!

My relative has been known to change his opinion before now and as he's someone I respect I wanted to not be ranty but rather to make him see grin

BreakingDad77 Thu 27-Mar-14 17:35:01

If someone doesn't want to press charges it is difficult, the police could possibly (though this is horrible) threaten the victim with arrest for perjury/perverting the course of justice ie hiding a crime.

This nut of women not prepared to come forward is one of the most difficult to crack. Do we need more safe houses/emergency financial support structures?

BuffytheReasonableFeminist Thu 27-Mar-14 18:15:55

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

scallopsrgreat Thu 27-Mar-14 18:30:22

We need the police to have the power to remove the perpetrator from the home. They don't at the moment. This is a perfect example of how the needs of the perpetrator are deemed more important than the needs of the victim. this guy was released to back to the family home and the responsibility for leaving was left to the victim, even though she had nowhere to go either. If she hadn't been strong enough to get out she would almost certainly withdrawn the complaint.

Shallishanti Thu 27-Mar-14 18:37:49

the thing is it's very difficult to imagine yourself in the situation if you haven't been there/learnt a lot about it
true, it must be very frustrating for the police- but they should also understand some things about DV, for example that most women are attacked many times before they report, and that they are at very high risk if they carry out a plan to leave. They can't just walk out. Even from a practical point of view, imagine the logistics (housing, money, kids) not to mention safety. I would post a link to a DV charity- the more I have learnt about it the more shocked I have been

Margolotta Thu 27-Mar-14 18:48:28

I am a regular, but have name changed so I don't out myself.

I was that woman.

My ExH used to beat the living hell out of me when on drugs or drunk, if the planets were out of alignment or if he just fancied it. I called the Police on 2 occasions and he was taken away. It was nasty stuff, broken bones, blood, punches, kicks, hair torn out like something from a bloody awful film.

The first time, I was called in the morning and asked if I wanted to press charges. I really really did. I also knew he would find a way to get to me, he had told me often enough that he would get me, and I knew him well enough to know that he would, the consequences would have been fatal. He had also worn me down so badly that I didn't believe that I could function without him. So they released him and he came home.

He used the fact that I had reported him as fuel for his rage. He would then taunt me with it when I lay bleeding and crying after yet another beating.

The second time, a policeman came to the door the next morning. He said that he wanted me to press charges, the bruising was enough to secure a conviction. As he had been being arrested the night before, he had promised to kill the DCs so I asked if he would get bail, the PC said he thought he would and I couldn't take the chance. He had already removed our older DC from their school without my knowledge a couple of times, I knew he would do it again. Again, they released him and he came home. The next day, he broke my collar bone by stamping on me. I called WA from the hospital and I eventually got out out into a shelter.

He was never prosecuted for the abuse I suffered. We got out alive, and that had to be enough. The Police have powers now to charge without the victims consent. On one hand, that's a good thing, I did and would have functioned if he wasn't around, we would have been ok. OTOH it would have been terrifying. He would have got bail, and I still believe he would have found us and I almost certainly wouldn't be here today.

Your friend is living in cloud cuckoo land if he thinks that in days gone by the Police didn't need to get involved because victims spoke up to their communities and the abuser was had a quiet word with. The shame was still there then, women still covered it up, covered the bruises with make up and hoped it was the last time. He really doesn't know what he's talking about.

I am a clever, educated woman. It happens to clever, educated people too.

BuffytheReasonableFeminist Thu 27-Mar-14 18:50:48

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

scallopsrgreat Thu 27-Mar-14 19:00:37

So sorry that happened to you Margolotta. Very glad you & your children got out thanks

tribpot Thu 27-Mar-14 19:02:45

Again, on MN you see time after time the victim's family completely unwilling to believe that this supposedly 'great guy' could possibly be as bad as the victim is making out. A tonne of pressure heaped on the victim not to break up her (or his) own family. And let's not forget, the very purpose of the abuse is to prevent the victim from being able to think coherently from one minute to the next. It's a question of survival, and the power of denial is great (on all sides).

Was there ever a time when abusers were dealt with by being shamed in their community? Was there bollocks. The lack of meaningful social stigma for domestic abuse, like the lack of meaningful social stigma about not supporting your children in any way after a breakup, is not unique to the 21st century. Here is Patrick Stewart describing the reaction of 'the community' to his mother's domestic violence in the 1950s.

This is one of the best TED talks I've seen on any issue but certainly extremely moving on the subject of domestic violence.

TheGirlFromIpanema Thu 27-Mar-14 19:25:40

Oh Margolotta thank you for sharing your story thanks

And thanks again to everyone who has given me the words I couldn't find. We do like a good fb debate in my family but I sometimes feel like I am banging my head against a brick wall when I cannot find the way to make a point!

You never know my relative may even change his opinion. As someone said upthread it is very easy to make statements about a situation in which you've never found yourself.

tribpot Thu 27-Mar-14 19:44:57

Margolotta, I cross-posted with you - I didn't mean to suggest your own account was not moving and compelling. Thank god you got away in the end.

charitygirl Fri 28-Mar-14 10:58:38

Erm, practice (don't think legislation was required) was changed about 10 yrs ago so that police and CPS could proceed with a case even if the victim didn't want to press charges. Don't people know this - it was pretty controversial. I don't think these changes have been reversed.

AskBasil Fri 28-Mar-14 23:21:32

Yes, police can go ahead with recommending a prosecution without the cooperation of the victim, but they don't
a) because they don't want to do a whole load of work preparing a case that won't go to court because the CPS will throw it out because the victim isn't cooperating so there may be less than a 50% chance of conviction and
b) they can't be arsed. They buy into the same DV myths as everyone else and simply don't think it's that much of a crime.

AskBasil Fri 28-Mar-14 23:32:55

Also from the POV of arguing with your relative OP, people often call the police in total fear of their lives but once the police arrive, the long term consequences of going ahead with pressing charges hits home.

Most women don't want to end their relationship, they want the man they live with to stop inflicting violence on them. That's not a solution the police and courts offer, so when the implications of pressing charges sink in (possible ending of the relationship/ angry man gets slapped on wrist and then comes back home full of fury for having lost status by being arrested) they go back to thinking about their solution (being a better wife/ not winding him up/ offering him more support etc.) and because they are not yet convinced of how dangerous staying with him is, they feel they cannot take the nuclear option.

Margolotta Sat 29-Mar-14 19:18:01

I just quickly changed back to this name to thank people for their kind words.

We got out, we're safe and happy. I was very very lucky that my WA worker was so good.

Meglet Sat 29-Mar-14 19:28:55

Don't social services get involved in these cases? I had the police involved twice and received a letter from social services, basically saying that if the children were at risk (ie: XP was still in the house) then they would get involved. I'd kicked XP out after the second inicident anyway so they said they wouldn't need to visit as long as he didn't live in the house again.

sashh Wed 02-Apr-14 09:50:27

The victim has no choice in the prosecution that is down to the CPS.

However the victim is often left to live with the person who was violent towards them until the case comes to court.

How would he live with a man who had beaten and raped him for a year? Does he think there might be some pressure put on hi to change his story?

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