Tuesday, November 22, 2005

"I Fail To See It"

First, read this. Then read this.

And then ask yourself, "Since when was ignorance a quality argument?"

"They deserve every black eye and every broken nose. Why? Because they choose to remain with the guy. ANYONE who chooses to remain with a beater deserves all that is coming to her."

(Bolded for emphasis)

Therein lies the flaw of Hades' entire argument. Sure, it's a choice to remain with the guy - but making that choice can be damn difficult.

Let me get a few myths straight.

Domestic violence (meaning abused men, women AND children) is not about violence. It's about control. The violence is merely a symptom of the need for one person to dominate someone else's life completely.

Calantha wrote:

"Anyway....since the abuser can make it hard enough for the victim to leave, it's worse when there are kids involved. I agree that such a home is not a place to raise children, but they are sometimes used as pawns in this conflict (ie "If you try to leave me, you'll never seen the kids again/I'll kill them.") No mother or father wants to hear that or let it happen. Stupid Catch-22, that's what it is. And sometimes the police don't do a damned thing to help."

That is true, but that's an advanced symptom. It usually starts a lot smaller. Persuading you to give up your job. Expressing a dislike for your friends. Making himself unpopular with your family. Then it spirals downwards. Cutting off your supply of money when you don't listen. Your friends don't talk to you because they can't stand your partner. Your family doesn't talk to you because they can't stand your partner.

Not so easy to leave your partner after your support network's been completely destroyed neh? Once that happens THEN the real abuse starts.

The sad part is, it doesn't start this way. Many domestic violence victims stay because they had a -very- good relationship at one point in the past. In fact, one telltale sign of domestic violence is the niceness-abuse-reform. The velvet glove covering the iron fist so to speak.

Hades writes:

"Women who choose the bad guy over the good deserve to have their skulls split open. I mean, why not? She had the choice, she made it. No one forced her to be with El Skull Busto with the "I DATE MY SISTER" tattoo. She chose it of her own free will. Surely she deserves whatever she gets."

Because abusers don't necessarily come with "I DATE MY SISTER" tattoos, any more than Ken Lay had a "I STEAL FROM ENRON" tattoo. Domestic abusers come in all shapes, sizes and forms. They cut across race, nationality, gender, and sexual orientation.

Life would be a lot simpler for me, professionally and privately, if people came with warning labels attached.

****

Don't take what I say as the gospel truth. Go do some research. The results may suprise you.

Sad thing is, at one stage, I did think a lot like Hades. It was only due to a fortutious encounter with the head of the Domestic Violence Unit of the San Jose Public Prosecutor's office that I even know as much as I do now.

I am sure Hades is well-intentioned, but this is the exact kind of thinking that should not be perpetuated. If we do, the abusers win. The abusers get their way because fewer people is unwilling be sympathetic.

YOU are the one with the choice. YOU are the one that can help. How will you choose?

13 comments:

Johnny Malkavian said...

You present a valid counterpoint to Hade's post, but there is one thing that I still wonder about.

Where and how does the cycle break?

Anthony said...

It breaks one of two ways

(1) The person gets out. This may require a lot out of the person and a lot out of social capital, or it may take a little because the person realizes the signs and gets out.

(2) The person dies. 1 person dies a month in the San Jose region due to domestic violence. There might be more from under-reporting.

Final enough for you?

Gloria said...

I agree that Hades' argument is somewhat flawed. It reveals a certain lack of understanding of human psychology. I went and posted a comment before I read the rest of your post, but didn't bring that point up as I didn't think it would be appreciated. Instead I pointed out that the material circumstances surrounding the victim may be a deciding factor in whether to go or stay-- some women literally have no place else to go and could end up on the streets. Of course we could argue that there is no lack of organisations and bodies who dedicate themselves to the cause of supporting victims of domestic violence, but if we are realistic and look at the demographics, most abused (let's be honest) women aren't very educated and are from very poor backgrounds with little family support. To their minds these organisations may even end up taking sides with the abusive partner! Oh heck it, I'm gonna continue this on Glor's blog.

Anthony said...

Actually,

Domestic violence is equal opportunity. One explanation I have on why women with low education and nowhere to go tend to get stuck in our minds is because (i) women with that kind of socio-economic background probably have partners that are more likely to be arrested for OTHER matters and (ii) it make a far better story than a man beating the shit out of his homosexual lover.

Mindshare is not realshare. Stories lie, but numbers don't.

A little bird atop the canopy said...

When the term "domestic violence" is used, it is almost always dealing with cases of a husband beating up his wife. That is what Hades dealt with in his article and as such I won't go into other forms of domestic violence.

At the end of the day, it is still the consequences from the choices made the woman which spiralled into the abuse perpetrated by her husband.

Granted that it was the jerk who got his wife to quit her job, and turn her friends and family against her, but what was the woman doing at the time? It was ultimately her own decision to comply with the jerk's desires and choose him over job, friends and family.

Granted that (thanks to your good rebuttal) Hades was generalising women who choose "El Skull Busto" with the tattoo on them, it still takes one increasingly malevolent control-freak jerk and one extremely subservient wife willing to save the marriage by any means necessary for abuse to take place.

And that is not taking the Stockholm Syndrome into consideration.

Anthony said...

A Little Bird Atop the Canopy,

"When the term "domestic violence" is used, it is almost always dealing with cases of a husband beating up his wife. That is what Hades dealt with in his article and as such I won't go into other forms of domestic violence."

Pray tell is there something special about a female that I don't know about? A special "beat me" tattoo? If not, then why the artificial distinction? Just because it is popular don't mean it's accurate.

"At the end of the day, it is still the consequences from the choices made the woman which spiralled into the abuse perpetrated by her husband."

I agree to sell you a house for 3 million. You pay me the down payment. I run away with the money. You find out I don't actually own the house.

Are you responsible for your decision?

"Granted that (thanks to your good rebuttal) Hades was generalising women who choose "El Skull Busto" with the tattoo on them, it still takes one increasingly malevolent control-freak jerk and one extremely subservient wife willing to save the marriage by any means necessary for abuse to take place."

End result versus starting point. You'll be suprised how smart, well-adjusted men and women will slowly drive themselves to the point of subservience.

Sure, they made -a- decision. But at some point the consequences that flow from that decision have to stop. Law calls this a causation test. It is the same reason we don't hang men for masturbating. At some point it's masturbation, not murder of innocent lives.

There are decisions and there are decisions. The "you've earned it" argument isn't logical, and frankly, is an excuse so we don't have to feel responsible.

Anonymous said...

my father is abusive so is my fucked up elder "brother"
i think my mum cant get a divorce because shes not strong enough too. Screw men who are abusive, to hell with them. I hope they suffer retribution 3 times the worst. You think I wouldn't want to just leave once and for all, its easier said than done.. HAhahahaha

A little bird atop the canopy said...

Pray tell is there something special about a female that I don't know about? A special "beat me" tattoo? If not, then why the artificial distinction? Just because it is popular don't mean it's accurate.

It sure isn't. But since it is the most publicised form of domestic violence, and since Hades was only dealing with the scope of "husband-beating-wife", we should not broaden the topic to include other scenarios where the person on the receiving end is a husband, child or elderly family member because the underlying reasons of domestic violence are all different.

I agree to sell you a house for 3 million. You pay me the down payment. I run away with the money. You find out I don't actually own the house. Are you responsible for your decision?

Of course not. A more apt analogy is:

1. You agree to sell me a pen for $300 and take the money but don't give me a pen. Then you agree to sell me a LCD TV set for $1000 and take the money without giving me a pen. Then I still believe you when you tell me you've got a car to sell to me.

Would a third party not be laughing at me for my stupidity (and call for the arrest of you)?

You'll be suprised how smart, well-adjusted men and women will slowly drive themselves to the point of subservience.

Einstein has said it before (and I agree - a loose quote): "Two things that are infinite - the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not so sure about the former".

at some point the consequences that flow from that decision have to stop. Law calls this a causation test. It is the same reason we don't hang men for masturbating. At some point it's masturbation, not murder of innocent lives.

There are decisions and there are decisions. The "you've earned it" argument isn't logical, and frankly, is an excuse so we don't have to feel responsible.


I've never intended "she earned it" as an "excuse" for scumbags to take their family members to be punching bags. But for people who make the Hobson's choice of getting a punch-up, they have to bear with it if they're not going to work their way out of it (even considering the costs involved).

Anthony said...

A Little Bird Atop The Canopy

AHA! A fray!

It sure isn't. But since it is the most publicised form of domestic violence, and since Hades was only dealing with the scope of "husband-beating-wife", we should not broaden the topic to include other scenarios where the person on the receiving end is a husband, child or elderly family member because the underlying reasons of domestic violence are all different.

I think that's the common misconception. They have more in common than you think. A LOT more in common than you think. If anything, women are more vulnerable, thus, more needing of protection. The unfortunate thing is that you're approaching this from the idea that its a level playing field, and it isn't.

I've never intended "she earned it" as an "excuse" for scumbags to take their family members to be punching bags. But for people who make the Hobson's choice of getting a punch-up, they have to bear with it if they're not going to work their way out of it (even considering the costs involved).

Hades preceded his arguments by saying that he does not see a reason why there are so many support groups for battered women. They are there precisely to address the imbalance in power for a woman that DOES want to get out.

The idea that the woman has to bear the cost alone is poisonous. By not addressing this imbalance of power, we have created a situation where the violence can be perpetuated, simply by our inaction.

I'm not saying we have an obligation to act. We don't. However, since Hades was arguing about the =purpose= for the presence of support groups, I think he falls on that point.

More food for thought. What is you have only got enough power to stop a family member from hitting you -this- time, but not enough power to leave him? That's the subtle balance of power that cases of domestic violence often turn on.

Mythical said...

You can be jailed for a fray... *grin* Which is possibly one way out: when the neighbours (hopefully, concerned and reasonably sane) call it in. Of course, it doesn't end there. When the abuser gets free, it might be worse. The main thing is that ways out of abuse are a lot like ways out of a cult. You need a network deprogrammer...

A little bird atop the canopy said...

AHA! A fray!
Yes...a fray on domestic violence in your blog. Sure beats (sorry :P) domestic violence any day.

Anyway, back to the serious issue.

...the common misconception. They have more in common than you think. A LOT more in common than you think. If anything, women are more vulnerable, thus, more needing of protection. The unfortunate thing is that you're approaching this from the idea that its a level playing field, and it isn't.

I would find it hard to agree with that. On intuition, at least. Women are usually far less vulnerable than children (who, unlike women most probably don't know enough about help they can get and mistake abuse to be discipline, and are even weaker to fight back against the parent in return) and elderly parents (who cannot simply go out and look for work at their age to live by themselves).

I would appreciate it if you could clarify why you would lump all cases of domestic violence closer than I do.

Hades preceded his arguments by saying that he does not see a reason why there are so many support groups for battered women. They are there precisely to address the imbalance in power for a woman that DOES want to get out.

The idea that the woman has to bear the cost alone is poisonous. By not addressing this imbalance of power, we have created a situation where the violence can be perpetuated, simply by our inaction.

I'm not saying we have an obligation to act. We don't. However, since Hades was arguing about the =purpose= for the presence of support groups, I think he falls on that point.


Point taken. Hades was not correct on that issue also. Still, without these groups, the choices are still stark and clear - the uncertain road of leaving or the certain road of more physical abouse.

More food for thought. What is you have only got enough power to stop a family member from hitting you -this- time, but not enough power to leave him? That's the subtle balance of power that cases of domestic violence often turn on.

Ok I chewed on it (sorry :P) for a while. But as Hades has said - the first time may be an accident, and even the second or third times may still be accidents, but any more than that and if the woman still stays in the marriage (assuming she's alive to make the decision) and still feels that she doesn't have "enough power" to leave him, it's hard to sympathise with the woman unless she's diagnosed to be suffering from the Stockholm Syndrome (which, unhappily, will only be known when the woman finally does break out of the vicious cycle that you documented very well in your blog post addressing the flaws of Hades's original post).

Hades said...

Hi,

I thought I had made it pretty clear that I wasn't referring to ALL abused women. I mean I understand that there are some women who are in relationships they cannot get out of, or was hoodwinked into, or was forced into or has nowhere else to go to. I am not talking about those cases.

I was referring to specific cases. Let me give you an example: TED BUNDY. This serial killer, ON DEATH ROW, received umpteen amount of marriage proposals WHILE IN JAIL WAITING TO DIE! What's funnier is all those that Ted Bundy killed were women. What's funnier still is he actually got married once more in the middle of a TRIAL. I mean, why should I sympathise with women who WANT to marry a bloody serial killer?!
Another example: This guy in California, has AIDS. Does some crime and goes to jail. His wife KNOWS he has AIDS, been sleeping around etc. What does she sue the state for? Conjugal visits.

Hades
www.evilatheist.com

Gilbert Koh said...

I am a little late in this dicussion, but as Anthony knows, I was previously a deputy public prosecutor myself. I did handle my fair share of family violence cases, and I think I can say that I do understand a little of the strange human psychology involved.

If you analyse this little bit of writing by me, you may get some insights into the psychology involved as well too -

not merely that of the victim, but also that of the external observers (who may be neighbours, relatives, colleagues etc). It is a common yet peculiar phenomenon that in domestic violence cxases, there are very often many external observers (neighbours, relatives, colleagues) who are quite aware of the situation. Yet they don't do anything for years and years, even though it is really not a very difficult thing to pick up the phone and call the police.

Why don't they? Once you start thinking it through, you may see that the reasons are quite complex - and then you may also start to see some reasons why it isn't quite so easy for the woman to simply do something very decisive to put an end to her situation either.

You may also be interested to note that many of these abusive men love their wives very much. I use the word "love" fully aware that it sounds warped here - but it is difficult for me to find a more obviously appropriate word. I have seen these men in court - it's quite common for them to say that they love their wives very much (and they look remarkably sincere - I think that they do mean it, in the only way they know how, which the rest of the world tends to regard as warped) and sometimes the wife in court even starts weeping and saying "I love you too, honey, I love you too, honey" and gee, she means it too. So the husband is as warped as the wife; one beats the other; both love each other; or both "love" each other; whatever ... what a stupid word, love.