Regarding the hard line I take against batterers, and the contempt I have for their crimes against women and children, a reader got a little frustrated with me. She asked:
"Okay, Jenna, in your opinion what is the answer [to addressing Domestic Violence]? Do we just shoot the batterers of the world?"
I sometimes wonder why discussions about violence against women tend to turn so snarky. Maybe it's because we keep trying to understand abusers, instead of treating them like the criminals that they are, and our misplaced compassion waters down our outrage.
But since the question was asked, here's what I think:
First, this culture needs to stop "understanding" abusers. A male who uses women has issues to begin with; but I think that the guy who uses a woman as an emotional, physical, and spiritual punching bag is just plain evil. And since evil people will use the goodness of others as a tool for manipulation, it's destructive - especially to his victim - to let sympathy keep feeding the beast. A batterer should be put in jail, and shunned by everyone around him.
Second, if we stop wallowing in tender mercies for the abuser, we can then hold him fully responsible for his actions - just as we would do if the woman he beat up, terrorized, or murdered was someone other than his wife, his girlfriend, or his child's mother. And on the topic of battered mothers: We can stop promoting the absurdity that a male who is capable of brutalizing his child's most profound human connection - the mother - is also capable of being a "good father". The two situations cannot be separated. If we stop sympathizing, and stop coddling, we can then take a hard look at the ways in which we excuse (and therefore encourage) violence against women.
Third: We need to stop equalizing the genders when it comes to DV. When the target is a woman, and especially if she has kids with the abuser, the dynamics are different. So is everything from cultural and institutional response to aftercare, and from financial power to legal help - and on that last topic, can anyone point me to a dedicated Mothers' Rights law firm? Probably not, even though Fathers' Rights firms are spreading like the flu - because the males usually have the money advantage. So that's where the Family Law attorneys tend to congregate, giving abusive males the advantage in the courts.
Finally, we will do none of the above unless and until we regard Domestic Violence not as a Family Court matter, but as the hate crime that it really is - and abusers, as the criminals they really are.
See you next time.
Until then -
is a consultant, a coach, and is the award-winning author of the October Snow
series. She welcomes your questions for her monthly column, and if your question is chosen, she will send you an ebook version of one of her novels. Contact her here: Jenna Brooks Online/Read My Mind