Let us not soften the language we use about a man who hits a woman. It has been called domestic violence or partner violence. Our in-depth examination of the problem today and through next week is labelled "family violence" because an entire family suffers when a parent resorts to violence to control a partner or children. But at its most serious level, this problem is men. Not all men, not even most men, and, as some men always point out, not just men. Women can, and do, resort to violence too.
But this subject is too important to be blurred and broadened for the sake of gender neutrality. New Zealand has one of the worst family violence rates in the world and it is a fair bet women are not responsible for most of it, and certainly not the worst of it. We should not listen to claims of provocation, verbal or physical. If we are going to eradicate this disgrace on our society the truth needs to be implanted in every male mind that there is never an excuse for a man to hit a woman.
Mark Longley, whose story starts our series today, believes his daughter Emily would still be alive if somebody had challenged her boyfriend over the violence he was threatening to inflict on her. Elliot Turner had talked openly to others about what he was going to do. The night before he strangled Emily, he hit her head against a table in a bar and the incident was witnessed by several of their friends. Mr Longley later launched the White Ribbon Trust in New Zealand which urges men not to stay silent about violence towards women.
Silence can too easily be misinterpreted as condoning the act. More often, silence will be hiding the hearer's utter disgust. When the White Ribbon campaign encourages men to talk about this problem, it is probably not envisaging mutual hand-wringing conversations about the subject in the abstract. Effective conversation is direct and blunt. Men should never conceal their disgust at anyone they hear talking as Elliot Turner did, and never stand idly by when they see a man lift a hand to a woman.
These types do not deserve to be called men, they lack one of the core instincts of the male psyche. They disgrace their physical advantage and show themselves to be cowards.
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These types do not deserve to be called men, they lack one of the core instincts of the male psyche. They disgrace their physical advantage and show themselves to be cowards. They should know this is how they are regarded by real men, and by women too. Women have no regard for a man who uses his advantage.
Sadly, women often remain with a partner like this, an aspect of family violence that will be discussed in our series over the coming week. Sometimes they stay in the hope of change, sometimes they imagine they are somehow partly to blame. Violence is demeaning for victims and can leave them vulnerable to undeserved self-reproach. Sometimes they stay in terror. They fear for themselves and their children if they leave the brute.
He has turned their home into a prison. It has become not the place of rest and comfort everybody needs, but a place where they are constantly wary and afraid. He has a pathetic need to control them, probably because in other areas of his life he cannot command the authority or respect he thinks he deserves.
He is unmanly and every man should let him know it.
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