The National Domestic Violence helpline number is 0808 2000 247.
I’ve been thinking a fair bit about domestic violence and domestic abuse this week, particularly after an interesting day’s training with Restored. One of the things which really made me ponder was the notion of excuses. I have always assumed that men don’t hit women for the fun of it. I may be wrong.
Notice he doesn’t start hitting six foot blokes in the pub when he gets drunk, he waits till he gets home. It’s a choice.
Notice most men don’t hit women when there isn’t enough money in the household. It’s a choice.
Notice lots of men with anger management issues get help. It’s a choice.
Notice the vast majority of men prefer sex to be consensual. It’s a choice.
(And for the person who thought that ministry was particularly pressured and so men in ministry might be stressed into hitting their partners, err no. No about the particular pressure, and no about being stressed into hitting. It’s a choice.)
The second point which had me thinking was about power. The trainer said words to the effect of “Most of us don’t realise how much power we have until we have already relinquished it.” I’d like to add the usual reminder to that – power itself is neutral, it’s how we use it that matters. As a wearer of a dog collar, with a position in my community, I have power, and it’s up to me to use that power for the glory of God and not for any other purpose. It’s a choice.
The third point which gave me food for thought was the dynamic in the room. We had two female trainers (very good they were too), and twenty-eight people on the course, five of whom were men. By coffee break I was counting the interactions and interjections. The majority of the time anyone spoke from the floor, it was a man, often explaining that women needed to be given their voices. You and I, dear reader, both see the irony. I became very uneasy about how to respond – I am used to being a lone female voice, and am very happy to hold my own among men. But equally, I am aware that among women, I need to operate differently, to fight to be heard less, to give more space for response, listen more, and that is what I was trying to do in this session. It’s a choice.
The fourth thing I will remember for a long time was listening to two women describe relationships which became abusive. Both of them described meeting charming men. Charming, generous, thoughtful, protective men. It was later that the charm stopped, that the generosity turned to bargaining and withholding, that the protection turned to isolating and controlling. It’s so very easy to be charmed. And the change in behaviour, from charming to abusive, is a choice.
Be in no doubt, I like men. Most men I have ever met are thoroughly decent, and I am proud to call some of them my friends. I do not think that the way to hear women is to silence men, and I am aware too that 13% of domestic violence and abuse is committed against men (I think I’ve got that statistic right, again, try Restored’s website). But 2 women a week die as a result of violence at the hands of their partners.
There is no excuse.