Thursday, 17 September 2009

Roundtable on Violence Against Women on the Weatherston Sentence

The Roundtable on Violence Against Women has put out a fact sheet in response to the sentencing of Clayton Weatherston, to highlight issues of violence against women to the media, in the hope of some broader reporting than some of the icky stuff we've seen around this case.

I'm reproducing the whole thing here because it is really excellent, and I hope that is ok with the RVAW people (please let me know if not!). You can access the fact sheet online here, and their website here.

Here we go:



Prepared by the Roundtable on Violence Against Women

On average 14 women are killed by their (ex) partner each year – one every 3.7 weeks. We can therefore estimate that more than 20 other women have been murdered by their (ex) partners/boyfriends since Sophie Elliott was murdered by Clayton Weatherston in January 2008.

Rarely does a week go by without new headlines of another domestic murder. However the reality is that we don’t know exactly how many domestic murders there are in New Zealand each year. Unofficially so far in 2009 there have been 28 domestic murders (women, children and men as victims). This equates to the usual annual domestic murder toll and we are only half way through September.

Police do not routinely collate or release information on the relationship of the victim and the murderer, or on the gender of the victim. Hence we have no way of knowing how many of these 28 murders have been women murdered by their (ex) partner.

The most recent official statistics we have are that between 2000 and 2004, 45 women were murdered by their male partner or ex-partner. During the same period three men were murdered by their female partner or ex partner (NZ Police statistics)

No one deserves to be abused. Women and children don't "ask for it".

People often ask “why doesn’t she just leave?” However, the most dangerous time for women is in fact when they leave or talk about leaving. He may have repeatedly threatened to harm her, the children or her family if she leaves.

Most murders happen:
  • at the time of separation or after
  • when the abuser has less control – when the woman files for a protection order, gets a new partner, or in Sophie Elliott’s case, a new job
  • when events occur that mean the abuse will be exposed (e.g. when Police get involved).
Leaving does not end the violence – it often gets worse after separation.

Serious abusers come from all walks of life, but they have in common a belief that they have the right to control, dominate and punish their partner and family.

Lundy Bancroft, a US domestic violence expert who was here in NZ recently, has researched the profile of domestic violence abusers:
  • Commonly have an “attitude of ownership” – once an abuser is in a relationship, his partner (and children) belong to him
  • They are controlling (makes all the decisions and rules, controls the finances)
  • They are manipulative (twists arguments around, plays mind-games, able to “sweet talk” others)
  • Commonly display a sense of entitlement and are demanding (thinks his needs are more important than anyone else, and blames others for any problems
Bancroft warns that these characteristics of an abuser are not often seen by those outside the relationship - abusers are able to put on a different face outside the home (“Jekyll and Hyde” characteristics).

UK Refuge Chief Executive, Sandra Horley, also talks about abusers as “Jekyll and Hyde” characters , who are able swiftly switch between “rage and charm”.

Most friends and family have no idea he is capable of these acts of violence.

There are “red flags” that Police look out for, which indicates when a victims of violence is at risk of being seriously hurt or killed:
  • the abuser threatens to hurt the victim, children, family, pets, or themself (many domestic violence murders are murder/suicide)
  • the abuser is possessive and extremely jealous (including stalking behaviour)
  • the abuser has used physical abuse before, especially where this escalates over time
  • there has been a separation or challenge to the abuser’s control (e.g. victim files for a protection order)
  • the victim is afraid of the abuser
  • the victim is isolated.
Many young women may be in a potentially abusive relationship and not even know it.

Many young women don’t realise that they don’t have to be in a living with their boyfriend or married to be at risk of abuse or even murder.

Dating violence is common – it can be physical, sexual and/or psychological abuse.

Warning signs include:
  • Extreme jealousy and possessiveness
  • Controlling behaviour (controlling what you do, say, wear, who you talk to)
  • Threats
  • Stalking
  • Monitoring (txting or calling many times a day, checking up on you)
  • Isolation (ignoring or criticising your friends, making it hard for you to see your friends and family)
  • Sexual coercion
  • Humiliating or criticising or putting you down
  • Using force, or any physical violence
FOR PARENTS- Warning Signs of a Controlling Relationship.
Abusers often isolate their victims so that they become emotionally dependent
  • Does your daughter have fewer friends, have friends who say they don’t like her boyfriend, or seem to be withdrawing from the family?
  • Abusers often seem romantic and caring, but the constant contact and attention is actually a tactic of control
  • Does your daughter's boyfriend call or text her constantly, get upset if she doesn’t reply immediately, or always question her about what she has been doing?
  • Abusers are often jealous and possessive, believing they own their partner
  • Does her boyfriend declare his love very early in the relationship, excuse his jealousy as a sign of ‘love’, or get upset if she speaks to another boy?
  • Abusers commonly have controlling behaviours and feel entitled
  • Does he tell or ‘advise’ your daughter about her friends, clothes, hairstyle, and activities? Is he always the one to make decisions about what they do? Does he force
  • Abusers often play mind games, blame others and refuse to take responsibility for their actions
  • Does he blame his unreasonable behaviour on bad childhood, stress, or make it seem like it’s your daughter’s fault so she makes excuses for him, and blames herself? Does he do scary or mean things then apologise only to do it again?
Any threats, physical violence or sexual coercion or assault should be taken seriously.

It is essential that everything possible is done to keep women and children safe before, during and after separation.

Women who are in immediate danger should always Call 111 for the Police - or ask neighbours or friends to ring

Domestic Violence Helpline 0508 DVHELP (0508 384 357) is a free call helpline operating 7:30am –11pm, seven days a week across the entire country.

Advocacy and support services are provided by Women’s Refuges and other domestic violence agencies. Refuge has emergency accommodation and also helps women who stay in their own houses.

Women’s education and support programmes are run by Women’s Refuges, domestic violence services, or Stopping Violence Services

To find out about local services call the free family violence information line 0800 456 450

Some of the things you can do if you suspect a family member, friend or workmate are being abused by their boyfriend or partner:
  • Don't ignore it. Break the silence and you'll also break the isolation and shame that victims often feel.
  • Educate yourself
  • Be supportive - don’t blame the victim
  • Take violence seriously
  • Encourage them to seek advice and assistance from a local women’s refuge or stopping violence agency
  • If at anytime, you believe there is a threat to their safety, call the Police

1 comment:

Random Lurker said...

“Jekyll and Hyde” characteristics

I liked Patrick Stewart's (aka Captain Jean-luc Picard of the Starship Enterprise) performance in this ad. Depicts that 'Jekyll and Hyde' quality well I think.