Domestic Violence not Perpetrated by Good Men

1 May

There is a story in the Toronto newspaper, The Star, of a man who abused his girlfriend and was called a ‘good man’ by the Judge who then gave the man a conditional discharge. This man is a police officer. He knew what he was doing was wrong. No doubt, he had been involved in domestic violence cases on the job. Now, I know being a police officer doesn’t mean a person won’t commit a crime; as in all situations, there will be people of a wide variety of character across any gamut of human endeavour. The police are neither immune nor unknown to be involved in domestic violence in their own homes, whether as victim or as abuser. However, he  knew better than most that what he was doing was a crime, the potential consequences to both himself and his partner, and he did it anyway.

It strikes me as quite telling that the Judge went on to say ‘…but for his involvement with Ms Wells (the complainant), led not only an unblemished but exemplary life,” said Justice Michael Epstein. It is not difficult to interpret this comment as in someway ‘blaming the victim’ as though she in some way caused a temporary aberration of behaviour in the man who abused her. I could be wrong in this interpretation, and I have not read the transcript of his summary, however, that seems to be a reasonable interpretation all the same.  

In my experience, there is rarely a one-off violent incident. There is usually a number of smaller incidents leading into the larger incident including any or all of the following: a wearing down of the partner’s self-esteem; isolating the partner from family and friends; control of partner’s activities, choices, finances, etc.; pushing, yelling, name calling; keeping tabs on the partner’s movements, phone calls, social media contacts, etc., demeaning the partner in a variety of ways from insisting on sexual activity that is not wanted to ridiculing the way the partner does even simple things, e.g. eat their food, sweep the floor, fold the clothes, do their hair, undermining partner’s point of view in front of others, etc. There can also be single slaps, punches, hair pulls, bailing up against a wall, endangering safety as though it is an accident, knocking them down with a push, bump etc., or slamming a door on them that might lead to them getting hit by it, and so on.

A good man, or woman, does not indulge such behaviour. Yes, we all get angry. Sometimes, all of us might want to hit out or hurt another, especially someone we ‘love’ but most of us do not do so. Anger is a natural human emotion. There is no guilt in feeling it. Anger is often, perhaps mostly, a response to other’s words and/or actions. It is, however, never an excuse for literally throwing a tantrum, especially when that tantrum involves verbal or physical intimidation or abuse of another.

All adults are responsible for how they react to their own emotions.

When we are angry, it is our individual responsibility to deal with it in ways that are both respectful of others and of ourselves. We are not two year olds. We are adults. To take our anger out on another is a failing of character. It is a failing of social responsibility. It is a crime.

Having an ‘exemplary’ or ‘reasonable’ public mode of behaviour is not an excuse when being sentenced for a crime. Many criminals, including many serial killers, have good, even popular public images. This is especially true of domestic violence, which is a crime that is perpetrated across all socio-economic spectrum. Domestic violence is such a huge and devastating problem for not only the victim but for society generally, that it must be fully condemned both through the Courts and sentencing as much as it is deplored by the larger community those Courts represent.

A man who abuses is not a good man.

This is the link to the article referred to: http://bit.ly/YlaQ5Y

 

 

 

 

http://www.thestar.com/news/crime/2013/04/30/toronto_police_officer_given_conditional_discharge_for_domestic_assault.html

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