A little girl was approached by a man who tried to lure her into his car yesterday. Police did not believe her, so the offender remains free.
A woman reported her ex partner threatening violence last week. She was ignored, so the offender remains free to hurt her.
A baby was murdered by his father this week, after his partner’s reports about him were not believed.
Do we think any of this is acceptable?
Apparently, as a society, we do, judging by the total lack of action.
Think about it. A baby was murdered, because despite this man being a reported domestic violence offender, despite his not returning his child at the agreed upon time following visitation (which he was still allowed), law enforcement did very little. They didn’t issue an amber alert for the child because there was ‘no reason to believe there was an imminent threat’…from a domestic violence offender who hadn’t returned his child. Let’s all scream a collective WTF.
He was killed because of a failure of the ‘justice’ system to believe women when they report abuse. A failure being repeated DAILY.
Women are ‘liars’
According to official stats, 69 women were killed by men last year. Five have been killed by men to February 5 this year. This is more than one a week. And before I’m asked, the rate of women killing male partners is less than one a month, which is also unacceptable. But it’s 69 vs. 10. And this doesn’t even include the children being murdered in revenge.
The Australian Government reports 1 in 6 (1.6 million) women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by a cohabiting partner since age 15. And yet, when they report abuse or a potential threat, they are at best palmed off, and at worst, assumed to be lying. Society would rather pretend this is not happening, than admit it’s a problem.
I’ve said it before, but I’m going to repeat it for the cheap seats, given women and children are most likely to suffer death as a result of abuse, they deserve the benefit of the doubt when they finally muster up the courage to report it. Period.
The harm to men after a false report of abuse is a loss of reputation, and perhaps money. Not death. And before you ask that also, the rate of false reporting for domestic abuse runs at less than 7% of ALL reported cases. Not nearly as high as some would have you believe.
The harm to women if nothing is done following a report of abuse or violence is VIOLENT DEATH, for her and/or her children.
Women and children die because they are not taken seriously by law enforcement when they make a report.
Putting aside that women have been treated like duplicitous prostitutes since the advent of male dominated religion, the onus is placed on women to prove they are telling the truth, rather than on the assumption they ARE telling the truth.
Without hard proof, law enforcement won’t do anything. And as we all know, all but the most stupid of domestic offenders are pretty adept at hiding their offending.
Abuse is insidious and doesn’t always involve bruises. It is carried out behind closed doors, and involves control, threats, rape and other sexual coercion, financial control, and escalating psychological and emotional abuse by an often publically charismatic offender. This doesn’t leave convenient marks for proof purposes.
Yesterday, a little girl was stopped by a man who tried to lure her into his car. She ran off and told a parent, who took her to police to make a report. The first question the little girl was asked if she knew ‘what a lie was’. The first question! The police went on to find the man (because the description was so good, because guess what, not a lie) and they let him go because he said he didn’t do anything, because offenders apparently don’t lie, but little girls do. So he’s still out there, parents of children, and the next child may not be so lucky.
The police believed him over the girl.
Similarly, two other girlfriends of mine went to the police to report abuse recently and threats of violence by partners, and were met with blank stares by police who put them in the ‘too hard’ basket.
This is an epic fail on many levels and across three different police stations. This is a systemic and chronic discounting of women.
As my friend said; ‘Does he actually have to kill me before I’m taken seriously by police?”
Short answer: yes.
The justice system is set up to protect MEN, not women. It doesn’t give a shit about women, because they are assumed to be lying or making a false report for personal gain.
What if women were believed when they make a report? What if police actually took action in the absence of hard proof? What if police stopped protecting men’s reputation from false reports and actually started protecting women from death? How many murders might be prevented?
Stop the fear-based thinking!
One in 20 Australians believe violence against women may be justified. In 2019!
This belief is not based in fact, this is based in fear.
It’s fear that leads to this kind of victim blaming. Because to admit a woman is being abused, and to admit she did nothing to contribute to the abuse, means it can happen to anyone. And no one wants to feel like it could happen to them. Surely, that woman is lying or did something to cause it all?
Therefore, they victim blame to make themselves feel safe. It’s disgusting and infuriating and needs to be addressed at a societal level. This is basic fear thinking. This is not conscious, intelligent thinking. And men are not the only ones doing this. Women do it to each other.
Blaming the victim allows the blamers, in their own small minds, to have control over their own fates. Because if the victim is lying or deserved it, it’s not going to happen to them, because THEY don’t do anything of those things. It is a useless attempt to control what is essentially the uncontrollable.
We can do better as a society. Violence against women and children, or indeed violence against anyone, is not ever acceptable, and it is never justified and it will only be stopped by all of us stopping the victim blaming or turning a blind eye. Enough already. Do better. Believe women when they make reports. Help a friend who you suspect is experiencing abuse. Call out offenders, and let them know the behaviour is not acceptable. Stand up and be counted to end this violence.
Official stats on DV here: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/domestic-violence/family-domestic-sexual-violence-in-australia-2018/report-editions
You make an excellent point on victim blaming — particularly when it’s other women doing the blaming or casting doubt on survivors stories. I think it’s to distance themselves from the sheer enormity of the problem and to try to find something within themselves to reassure them that it can’t happen to them. When I disclosed my abuse to a family member years ago, she went straight into how my behaviour etc.. contributed to my abuse and suggested that I had ‘misinterpreted’ what happened to me. Anyway, thanks for writing this.
No-one ever does anything to contribute to their own abuse! I’m sorry you went through this xx