Thursday, January 27, 2011

It's Only Abuse If He Hits You...

...or so says the law.  We are at a turning point in legislature, people.  Back in the 60s and 70s, they were at a similar place.  Let me show you:

Pre-1950s: Beat your wife.  Beat your kids.  Do it in public.  We don't mind.  It's how you keep them in line, after all.

     RESULT:  A trickle of people begin to think that this isn't right.

Aren't they just the happy family?

1950s:  Beat your wife and kids but do it MOSTLY behind closed doors.  It's alarming to see but totally necessary to keep them in line.

     RESULT:  People are beginning to step in when they see abuse in public.

You could get beaten for stale coffee.  It's in ADVERTISING.

1960s and 70s:  Beat your wife and kids but don't let us see you doing it in public.  Cuz then we have to fill out all kinds of paperwork...    
RESULT:  Women are beginning to stand up for themselves.  Teachers are reporting bruises and injuries on children.  Laws are passed to begin the prevention of abuse.  Most of the abuse definitions are for show and are easily argued away in court.  Programs are begun to offer assistance to victims.  Legal recourse to abuse is in its infancy.
Wait.  I don't have to cook your damn breakfast? TO THE STREETS!!

1980s:  Beat your wife and kids but don't do it in public, don't let them make sounds your neighbors can hear and don't leave any marks because now people are reporting it to the police and family services.  Keep them in line but pretend you don't.   
RESULT:  It is generally accepted that abuse is not okay.  Abuse prevention begins to be a pet project for some big names.  Family law now has to deal with abuse as a defense or grounds for divorce.  Neighbors report arguments, kids are talking to guidance counselors, authors are telling their survival stories. 

Or writing songs about it.

1990s:  Okay, your wife and kids still need to be kept in line but now beating them is just too risky.  Can you, oh I don't know, mess with their heads maybe?  Read up on CIA brainwashing tactics.  That'll get you started.  Then, just think outside the box.    
RESULT:  It is now law that abuse is illegal.  Courts are very much on the side of victims of physical abuse.  Proven physical abuse can get one's children taken from them, hospitals report it, teachers report it, reported numbers rise.  Abusers now have to get creative.
Damn phones.  They're EVERYWHERE.

2000s: Control the finances.  Control their self-esteem.  Take their innocence.  Trap them.  Cause confusion and uncertainty.  Isolate them from people who might empower them.  Make them dependent on you in every way.  But just don't touch 'em.  There, now THAT'LL keep 'em in line.
Verbal face-grabbing.  Now THAT's creative.   
RESULT:  Physical abuse is very illegal.  Emotional, psychological, economic/financial, verbal and mental abuse is now the preferred method.  Courts usually won't recognize these forms of abuse as ABUSE.  They are hard to prove and easy to weaponize.  Legal definitions of abuse may include verbiage about these non-physical types of abuse but it is more for show.  Just like in the 1960s and 70s.
"But he didn't actually hit you?  .........Overruled."

Victims of abuse today are finding more and more often that the system is failing them.  Legal definitions of abuse are generally interpreted as pertains to physical or sexual abuse only.  It is hard to get a judge to rule on any form of non-physical abuse.  No judge wants to rule that the children go with a parent claiming to be a victim of emotional abuse only to later find out that parent made it up to get custody of the children.  There must be some way to legally define non-physical types of abuse that can be provable, enforceable and difficult to weaponize.

Yeah, it's a cat picture.  Sue me.

I admit I don't have an answer to this except that the courts need to make those early mistakes and get some rulings on the books about non-physical abuse.  The courts need to set some precedents, even if they are shaky, for future cases to build on.  We're going to have to make some mistakes as casualties in the long-run of protecting people who are abused in ANY way.

Preach it, B.

I have watched so many lives and families crumble into a gray muck of bleakness because of abuse where no fist was ever swung, no private parts ever violated.  I would even go so far to say that non-physical abuse makes up the VAST MAJORITY of abuse cases.  But you couldn't find a chart or graph showing that because no one cares to count them.

Insert graphic of
imaginary pie chart showing
non-physical abuse majority

A devil's advocate might say, "Prove it."

Pictured:  Smug male privilege.

I would respond, "Give me a judge who will listen and advocate."

                             Justice Sotomayor:  Hey dudes.  I'm a judge now.  Heh, heh.
                             Men Everywhere:    But...but...she's BIASED!!! 
                                                             She might rule in favor of what's right!!!  *GASP*
                             Justice Sotomayor:  /facepalm

What kind of solutions do you have to the problem of non-physical abuse and the prosecution thereof? 
I'd love to hear your ideas. 
Let's begin a conversation. 
Perhaps someone who pulls strings might hear us.

Barry?  Michelle?  Anybody home?

I Vote For Longer Days

There are simply not enough hours in the day.  Or maybe...if there were more hours in the day I'd use them up just as quickly as I use up my allotted 24.

I'm sorry the posts have slowed down.  I'm still here, still working on fabulous content for you, my chickadee.  Have faith.  Stay with me.  It'll be worth your time, I promise.

Oh and....

I love you.