Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Victim blaming 101

Cross posted

Gregory Meads murdered Helen Meads just four days after she said she was going to leave their marriage. Now that he has been convicted by a jury, some more information has been released. It turns out that he beat her savagely about 18 months before he killed her.

The details are in this newspaper report, and they are horrifying. The report is *triggering*.

What the Meads jury didn't hear

But it seems that at least one police office thinks that it's Helen Meads fault.

Detective Sergeant Rod Carpinter, the officer in charge of the murder investigation, said the case highlighted the need for people to seek help from police, Women's Refuge or another organisation help before family violence escalated.

"Here we have a woman who has lost her life, children left without their mother and their father facing a long term of imprisonment."


Dude, it highlights the need for Gregory Meads to stop being a violent arsehole. Gregory Meads was the man who threw the punches, Gregory Meads was the man who pulled the trigger, Gregory Meads is the man who is responsible for Helen Meads being dead, for the children being without their mother, and for their father (that would be Gregory Meads) being in jail.

Maybe it also highlights the need for police to press assault charges a little harder. I really don't understand why Gregory Mead's assault on Helen Meads was not prosecuted in the first place. If police had taken their responsibilities seriously, maybe Helen Meads would still be alive, and her children would still have their mother.

Enough with the victim blaming.

18 comments:

LadyNews said...

Yeah, to me including the line "and their father facing a long term of imprisonment" comes across as "and this poor man is now in jail for years and years", which could have been prevented. I get that they mean it is a bad thing for a child to deal with a parent being imprisoned, but I think it isn't well phrased to make that clear. And because it is badly phrased it makes it seem a bit "but he's suffering too!", when he was the victimizer in this situation.

Bryce said...

Sorry but I don't see any victim blaming here. Detective Sergeant Rod Carpinter is stating the obvious ant that shouldn't be taken as victim blaming. as for the police doing their job properly there is not much they can do when someone keeps on going back into a violent situation.

ideologicallyimpure said...

Sure, Bryce. Because when someone basically says "this shows the need for people to do X" when a person has allegedly NOT done X and subsequently become a victim ...

Yeah, that's not putting any kind of onus on the victim at all.

Boganette said...

Bryce - there actually IS something the police can do. Their jobs. That would be something.

Scott said...

If people don't report abuse to the police they can't act on it. Do we know if police were made aware of the prior abuse incidents?

I wonder if that is in fact all the cop is trying to say - albeit clumsily. If people don't seek help then police can't intervene.

Anyway, good to see Meads' ridiculous defence shot down (pardon the inappropriate pun). Hopefully he rots in prison for an awfully long time.

Anonymous said...

As someone who went to police for help, and could not get it, because they decided the man was "just fixated" and would get over it soon, I am not surprised at Rod Carpinter's statement.

ideologicallyimpure said...

Anon @9:39, that's fucking awful and I hope you are safe.

AnneE said...

Maybe Carpinter didn't mean to blame the victim but it certainly sounds that way - as if it were Helen Meads' fault for not seeking help so that all of this could have been prevented... reminds me very strongly of the "don't wear short skirts/go out alone at night" lines on how women can and should avoid rape.

stargazer said...

scott, from the article:

... he beat her so badly he crushed her larynx and left her body bruised and bloodied

in such a condition, she must have presented to a medical practitioner of some kind, at which time there should be a process of informing the police & social services, and the police should then be taking action. the fact that this didn't appear to happen means there's something wrong with the system, and the police would do well to focus on that.

the problem with police implying that she should have left earlier is stated quite clearly later in the article:

"Helen had wanterd to leave the marriage but was scared of the repercussions. She was worried about what would happen to her daughters...

it's not that hard really. how about when they're asked for comment on issues like this, the police highlight the need for abusers to stop abusing.

MacDoctor said...

Stargazer:
A doctor cannot report domestic violence (or any other assault) against a patient's wishes. It contravenes both the privacy act and patient confidentiality. To do so would mean that victims of domestic abuse would not seek medical attention.

stargazer said...

ok, fair enough macdoctor. in which case, someone who is seriously afraid for their own safety or the safety of their children (as helen meads quite correctly was) really don't have much of an option, do they? so the police "highlighting the need to seek help" aren't helping a woman in her position in any way. they are in fact making it worse by implying that she didn't do enough to protect herself.

Anonymous said...

@ideologicallyimpure ... Thanks, I am safe now. He was outed in the media. Turns out I was not the only one he was 'fixated' on. Turns out he has form for fixation (and using his role and resources to get access to women). Only with me his behaviour escalated to off-the-chart scary ... as it does, when the police don't their job - which is preventing crime and keeping people safe. There is more to my story that will come out eventually, but suffice to say Rod Carpinter's tone is mainstream police thinking.

Lena said...

I'm quite new to this blog, so I was just wondering what *triggering* means? Triggering of what? Sorry asking what is probably a stupid question.

stargazer said...

lena, it's not a stupid question at all. triggering is one of the things associated with post-traumatic stress disorder, where mention of a crime that is similar to the one committed against you will lead to a reaction on your part, which could be a panic attack or extreme tiredness or tears or something else. it takes you back to your bad experience, and tends to spoil the rest of your day.

of course there are others who will know much more than myself about this, so please feel free to add.

Deborah said...

It's a good question, Lena. Often people who have been victims of assault or rape or other traumatic incidents will find reading such reports difficult, especially if they come upon them unexpectedly. The reports may trigger a flashback. It has become customary around feminist blogs, and other blogs, to signal such a report with "triggering". It's a safety warning - that's all.

People's responses to the word can vary. Some people who have been assaulted or raped avoid clicking on the link, or reading further. Others find that they can manage as long as they've been warned about it first.

Sophia said...

The first I heard about this case was when I saw the headline on Stuff which said "Text spark fatal shot".
I just LOVE the implication that it was Helen Mead's text messages that caused Gregory Mead's to fatally shoot her. No mention that maybe his obsessive and controlling behaviour caused him to undertake such action.

Lena said...

Thanks Stargazer and Deborah for the explanation, I understand now. I've only recently been properly exposed to feminism so there's a lot for me to learn

ideologicallyimpure said...

@Lena, asking questions is always a brilliant place to start!

Triggering can also refer to a huge range of other issues - fat acceptance blogs will sometimes have trigger warnings for discussion of eating disorders so people who might feel "set off" by discussion of dieting or nutrition, for example.

@Sophia, OMG I KNOW. If only the victim had been locked in a tower and unable to interact with other men, her murderer might not have felt entitled to [at the very least] threaten her with a loaded gun! He was just, um, defending His Property or something! *headdesk*