QU) What are hot weather, cold weather, a losing football team, a bad day at work, poor Olympian performance of your national squad, and stupid, flirty, ill-attired, nagging or crying women all reasons for?
A) Domestic abuse.
But don’t worry domestic abusers, you won’t have to demean yourself by relying on flimsy and pathetic excuses for your backhanders or controlling ways any more– leading Conservative Think Tank, The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) are working hard to explain to the one in four women in the UK who experience domestic violence at some point in their lives, why 87% of them can relax because they are really experiencing ‘situational couple violence’ easily remedied with some relationship counselling.
According to the CSJ only 7% of what we currently call domestic violence is ‘real’, the rest they explain is better understood as the playing out of ‘hot emotional issues’ which can be dealt with by using couple counselling. By gendering our understanding and approach to domestic violence, we have stupidly over-simplified the issue of domestic violence and created narratives ‘that ascribe all the blame for domestic abuse to male desire to control and subjugate women.’
Silly, hysterical us.
With a cool head and research techniques that refuse to be waylaid by extraneous detail like how gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age and immigration status impact upon experiences of domestic abuse, the CSJ calmly explain that although power, control and patriarchy have their place in explaining domestic abuse (in 7% of cases anyway) most situations that we might currently describe as abusive need to be understood through the lens of how the couple are relating to each other, “Domestic abuse is a problem with a relationship and solutions lie within this and other relationships.”
The CSJ take a more nuanced approach to tackling domestic abuse than current policy and practice and its twin approach of punishing perpetrators and ensuring safety for victims, and instead asks that both perpetrators AND victims ask themselves ‘What can I do differently to stop being an abuser/stop being abused? After all, an over-reliance on punishment means that the sector has forgotten to take into account the experience of the perpetrators, missing pertinent factors like the fact that, ‘[a woman’s] level of depression can also have some bearing on men’s violent behaviour.’
Paradigm shifting stuff. But until the shift happens (or until research such as this is used to justify closing even more resources for women facing and trying to escape from domestic abuse, and women will have no choice but to amend their abuse-baiting ways), and before Jeremy Browne (Crime Minister) has stopped oversimplifying domestic abuse in statements such as this one:
“Violence against women is insidious and it is pervasive: in the UK one in four women will be the victim of domestic abuse over the course of their lifetime…Violence against women has damaged our society for too long. It must stop,”
the 87% of women facing ‘situational couple violence’ (aka ’not real’ domestic abuse) can take simple but effective steps to end their suffering – Stop being poor, try to keep their depression at an acceptable level for the comfort of their partner, don’t answer or hit back, and spend a few minutes each day asking yourself how you could have handled the abuse in a better, cheaper manner that doesn’t require expensive women-focussed services. Oh, and if it’s raining or the football is on, stay out of his way, OK?