Abuse: by washing our hands we are taking part

Abuse: by washing our hands we are taking part

There are certain topics which I am extremely hesitant to touch upon, politics being one of them. Not only do I feel no desire to delve into it in this column, but when I do, I always feel like the Bernard Shaw quote where he says that you shouldn’t ever wrestle with a pig because you’ll both get dirty but only the pig will enjoy it.

Many in our fair land tend to spend the first five minutes gauging which political camp they think you fall within and then, based on that presupposition, they will elect whether to hear you out or not or just repeat their own broken record of manifestos from behind a three-course thick wall of prejudice.

Growth is minimal, mud coverage maximal and I literally have no water of care left to wash it all away with. What I’m trying to say is what is going to follow this long-winded, tiring introduction has absolutely nothing to do with politics. And when I say nothing, I truly do mean nothing at all.

The last couple of weeks have brought with them a flurry of allegations against the Leader of the Opposition, and while I am not here to go into the merits of their veracity, there is something that I want to tackle which surfaced when the allegations were made public: the culture of expected silence surrounding domestic violence.

When you exert yourself physically on another person, male or female, you do not only destroy them physically but mentally too

We all have loud familial disputes; we are nothing if not a volatile people prone to big hand gestures and even bigger swear words, but what I cannot and will not allow is for this code of omertà to be applied to domestic abuse.

When you exert yourself physically on another person, male or female, you do not only destroy them physically but mentally too. You destroy their self-confidence, you breed a culture of fear and anxiety, you wound their very core. It should go without saying that such things should be publically condemned, yet if the comments sections on our online news portals are to be believed, many people are more than happy to look the other way and pretend that they haven’t heard the blood-curdling screams of their next-door neighbour, while publicly maintaining that ‘what happens in the family stays in the family’.

What they fail to recognise is that by washing their hands of the knowledge of violence, they are implicitly taking part in the degradation and pain of the wounded party. No one ever thinks that it wasn’t Pontius Pilate that condemned Jesus to death just because he didn’t sentence him himself.

In 2018 alone, there were 886 cases of domestic violence reported, which translated into around four reports to the police being made each day. These are the numbers which were actually reported; heaven knows how many are crying silently behind locked doors, unable or afraid to confide their pain and oftentimes shame to their nearest and dearest and to the competent authorities.

We cannot continue to allow this. If someone is a victim of domestic violence they should be able to feel like they have society’s love, empathy and protection; there is simply no excuse for us to continue to enable this culture of pain, secrecy and shame. No one is anyone else’s property. No one needs to be controlled or be “put in their place” and absolutely no one should be excusing such behaviour or telling people to go back home and make up with their abuser in the bedroom (something I have actually heard being said to a victim of domestic violence).

When one of us is wounded, we are all wounded and when you make someone’s daughter, sister or mother feel like she doesn’t have the right to speak out about her pain, you continue to enable the abuser’s abuse. We can do so, so much better than this.

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