Edward Furlong is Finally Going to Prison

It would be nice if Furlong were going to prison for one of his numerous arrests for domestic violence but, instead, he’s received a 6 month sentence for violating his parole. Technically, this prison sentence is in response to Furlong’s violation of a 3 year probation order he received after violating his restraining order against his ex-wife. 

Oddly, Furlong wasn’t actually going to receive a jail sentence for the multiple counts of domestic violence he has committed in the last 6 months. His attorney had managed to convince the City Attorney to allow Furlong to enter rehab instead of going to jail for violating his parole and two counts of assault; that whole a-different-set-of-rules-for-rich-white-dudes thing. 

Furlong has multiple arrests for domestic violence. He’s has at least two restraining orders taken out on him. He’s been sent to rehab several times. He has lost unsupervised access to his son due to his drug addiction but instead of taking his history of violence seriously, Furlong’s been allowed to continue to live free and keep assaulting women.

He may need treatment for drug addiction but his ex-partners deserve to live without fear of him violating their restraining orders. Again. Or, assaulting them again.

When, precisely are we going to start taking domestic violence serious as a crime?

A Personal Account of Domestic Violence

I am publishing this on behalf of a friend who wishes to remain anonymous; as does her friend she is writing about: 

My friend Anna’s criminal case against her violent husband has been dismissed. He was expected to at least have some sort of community service, a fine and probably some sort of restitution, but he walked away without even a caution.

Anna, my friend since university, told me about a year ago that her marriage was going through a rough patch. She made light of it on the phone, in her upbeat way, but wanted me to come and visit. For lots of reasons, I wasn’t able to manage it, and feel dreadful about this. She told me later that he had violently attacked her. I am not even bothering to qualify this statement with an explanation of how they got to this stage or belittle it by adding that it was a petty argument. He violently attacked her. She managed to get him to back off, and she went to her bedroom armed with her mobile phone and a chair to blockade the door. She said that she almost stepped outside herself and saw herself as this woman whose spirit was finally knocked out of her and she was a shadow of her former self. From confident woman having lots of warm artistic friends living in a great studio in New York and doing work she enjoyed to this frightened-to-go-downstairs woman.

She called the police who responded within a few minutes. Her husband was found barely conscious on the couch, and deemed not to be in any fit state to do much of anything. She went to a hotel that night, and the next morning, he was full of apologies.

The violence didn’t stop. And here was the dilemma for Anna; some of it was so covert that it made her wonder whether she was imagining it. For instance, they entertained quite a bit, and he would do the cooking, mainly as he was a control freak and didn’t trust her to do it ‘properly.’ She would be carrying a plate of food and he would ‘accidently’ trip her. Usually it was in front of other people who would all jump to his defence that it was an accident.

In his more sober moments, he would articulate how unhappy he had become, and wanted out of the marriage. While she didn’t disagree, they had decided to discuss it when their youngest started university. It seemed tolerable and finite; they had separate bedrooms, their own cars, friends and their paths would barely cross.

He started posting on a singles website, initially in Anna’s words, ‘discretely’ as if she didn’t mind as long as he didn’t flaunt it. And then he started being more and more disrespectful, including inviting girlfriends to their house.

And then around this time last year, he attacked her again violently. She called the police and this time he spent a night in the cells. He was charged with assault and battery. He claims not to remember any of it. He wasn’t allowed to return to the family home.

Several months later the case was due to be heard at Magistrate’s Court. She had visited the courtroom and explained how the process worked. She opted to give her evidence via a video link so she wouldn’t have to be in the same courtroom as her husband and his family. She was understandably nervous and scared. And then the case was adjourned. In total the case has been adjourned 3 times for administrative reasons such as previous cases running over, lawyers having other cases.

Last week, the case was due to be heard again, or rather for the first time since he attacked her a year ago. Since this time, she and her husband via their lawyers reached an out of court financial settlement to finalize the divorce, their children are starting to be less traumatized and time has moved forward, although the scars run deep. Her youngest son who witnessed the violence declined his offer at university as he didn’t want to leave his mother vulnerable. Despite her assurances that she would be fine, he has taken a year out, suffers panic attacks and is not sure that he wants to study medicine as he can’t concentrate.

Anna told me that the reason she initially wanted to tell her story in court was so that the, ‘legal position’ reflected what was done to her. After a year however she just wanted to put it all behind her and was exhausted physically and mentally.

The legal system really let her down. It shouldn’t take over a year to hear a case of domestic violence, keeping in mind that this was a case the CPS were actually willing to prosecute. Maybe domestic violence cases should be fast tracked, or somehow highlighted for special attention.

I don’t know the answer, but Anna’s ex husband apparently was seen celebrating at a local pub drinking champagne in the evening after the case was dismissed.

Some Irish Band is Holding Chris Brown Responsible for Committing Domestic Violence

I was a bit confused this morning. I thought I’d slept through the winter and woken up April Fools’ Day as not only is David Cameron hosting a UN conference on poverty, an Irish band I have never heard of has refused to open for Chris Brown because of his conviction for domestic abuse. I read NME article three times to make sure I was reading it correctly since the Original RudeBoys are not only refusing to financially profit from supporting a man convicted of domestic violence, the article also failed to blame Rhianna for being assaulted. Considering the flack Dominic Monaghan got for calling out his former co-star Matthew Fox on domestic violence and the level of celebration child rapists like Roman Polanski receive, it’s quite a brave move for a band who have only just released their first album.

This is what Sean Walsh of The Original Rudeboys said in an interview with Irish channel RTE : 

“Even though it’s a huge opportunity to play in the O2 with a major hip-hop star and a substantial fee was offered, we are completely against Chris Brown’s assault on Rihanna… In addition, with our latest single ‘Blue Eyes’ being about domestic violence, it goes against everything we are about as a band and supporting Chris Brown would send out the wrong message to our fans.”

I am so very angry at the continuing celebration of violent men and the blaming of their victims that I am going to break my current rule on only buying music written and/or preformed by women to buy The Original Rudeboys album. In the scheme of things, it’s not really a big deal. One feminist buying one album isn’t going to change the world but the biggest weapon we have in our capitalist-Patriarchy is money. So, I’m not only supporting Eva Wiseman’s Dickhead detox but also financially supporting those who take a public stance on Violence against Women.

These are the violent misogynistic thugs who deserve our contempt and our hatred on my  list of the  dickhead detox.

James Brown: domestic violence*
Hugh Grant: abusing a prostitute
Ched Evans: rapist
Sean Connery: domestic violence
Ike Turner: domestic violence
Mel Gibson: probation for domestic violence [not to mention the issue of racism]
Harry Morgan: domestic violence
Tupac Shakur: sexual abuse
Richard Hatch: domestic assault
Tracy Lawrence: domestic abuse
Dennis Rodman: domestic abuse
Mickey Rourke: domestic abuse
Sean Penn: domestic abuse
Paul Gascoigne: domestic violence
Stan Collymore: domestic violence
Bill Wyman: child rape**
R. Kelly: domestic abuse [amongst some other horrifying accusations]
Micheal Lohan: domestic violence
Larry Fitzgerald: restraining order for domestic violence
Santonia Holmes: multiple arrests for domestic violence
Tommy Lee: domestic violence
Alec Baldwin: emotional abuse
Steven Tyler: child rape**

Iggy Pop: child rape**
Jerry Lee Lewis: child rape**
John Peel: child rape**
Jonathon King: child rape
Gary Glitter: possessing child pornography and child rape**
Johnny Thunders: child rape**
David Bowie: child rape**
Jimmy Page: child rape**
Pete Townsend: possessing images of child pornography

Jimmy Savile: child rapeAnd everyone who stood by whilst Jimmy Savile raped children whilst they did nothing.

*I’m using both domestic abuse and domestic violence because the terms reflect the legal status of the crime in the jurisdictions in which the men were charged.

** None of these men were convicted of child rape. But, that’s because we live in a society that celebrates male violence and doesn’t give a shit about children.

A Bunch of Men Got Together to Pretend that Domestic Violence Rates are Falling

And, guess what, they were lying through the teeth. Or, are complete nincompoops with no understanding of statistics which seems a bit far-fetched considering their various academic credentials. Now, when I read Alan Travis’s article in the Guardian, I did think the whole thing smelled fishy. I haven’t actually read the Office for National Statistics report but the idea that domestic violence is decreasing would be laughable if it weren’t so dangerous. I had planned to read the report myself to discover just how wrong the Guardian report is but, helpfully, the Liberal Conspiracy has already done that for me.

I was right. There has been some rather loosey-goosey playing with statistics to come up with the theory that domestic violence is decreasing. As Ally Fogg writes in her blog:

The whopping great mistake in all these reports (which may or may not originate with the ONS themselves) is to include ‘friends and acquaintances’ as domestic violence casualties. They’re not. Many of these ‘acquaintances’ may be rival drug dealers, for example. In fact, in 2010/11, the “friends and acquaintances” category was by far the largest subset of the group, accounting for 204 murders – more than twice as many as female DV victims. Every previous year shows the same pattern. The full category also includes children killed by parents; parents (including elderly relatives) killed by their children; sibling murders; husbands killed by wives and various ‘other’ combinations. Rather than accounting for over two thirds of murders as Cohen claims, in 2010/11 only 17% of homicides were women being murdered by their partners.

Now, I’m not big into conspiracy theories but I do have ask how a number of highly intelligent men could misread the statistics so appalling. I’d also like to know just what they think domestic violence is because I think the rest of us are working off entirely different definitions of DV. I’m rather fond of the Nia project’s definition since it concise, intelligent and doesn’t confuse acquaintance murder with systemic VAW:

Domestic/intimate partner violence – a pattern of coercive control, which includes combinations of physical, sexual, psychological and financial abuse by a current or former partner. In extreme cases this includes murder.

I notice none of the articles I’ve seen on this “trend” reference any organisations working in the field of VAW, like Nia or Women’s Aid.

As lovely as the thought is, domestic violence isn’t decreasing. It remains a constant statistic with the serious long-term consequences for families. Apparently, services dealing with domestic violence cost England 5.5 billion a year. The Scottish government suggests that domestic violence costs us 2.3 billion a year. If I were a conspiracy theorist, I’d suggest that the government is deliberately running a campaign to pretend domestic violence is decreasing in order to justify their massive, debilitating cuts to services for women.

But, I’m not a conspiracy theorist. I just don’t think a lot of people care very much about domestic violence and VAW in general. If they did, journalists wouldn’t be writing such poorly researched flights of stupidity.

Family Annnihilators: Victim Blaming at its Most Offensive [TRIGGER WARNING]

I was saddened to hear of yet another family devastated by the murder of 3 innocent children. I am firmly of the opinion that in these cases the families deserve the right to privacy. I’m not sure quite how to articulate my criticisms of how these cases are portrayed in the media without participating in the same media frenzy around the family. The family deserves privacy and the right to grieve without the BBC writing ridiculous articles like this one.

As a feminist, I find the police and media language around this case, and others of a similar nature, to be extremely insensitive and, effectively, minimising violence against women. The murder of women by their male partners is frequently dismissed as “isolated” incidents despite their being 2 women a week murdered by their partners or ex partners. That isn’t an isolated incident. It’s systemic violence against women; just as domestic violence and rape. The murder of children by their fathers, and its generally fathers who kill their children and then themselves in order to punish their ex partner for some perceived slight, are referred to as “tragic family situations” or “isolated incidents” by the police; catch phrases which the media repeats without any attempt at political analysis. These aren’t “tragedies“; that implies an accident. These are the deliberate murder of children. The perpetrators have clear histories of controlling or violent behaviour and they are preventable.

The reporting of these cases, known as family annihilators, in the media always imply that there was something the mother did to “push” the father into killing his children and then himself. The assumption that the mother brought the crime on herself by having an affair or leaving her husband is constant in news reports. Or, the poor father was stressed at losing his job that he couldn’t bear the “dishonour” of public knowledge and therefore had to kill his children and wife as well. It’s this kind of victim-blaming which makes it hard for women to seek help in leaving violent or controlling partners. It’s this kind of victim-blaming which minimises male violence and further punishes women. We need to start changing the language around how we report these stories. We need to stop blaming the victims and putting the blame squarely where it belongs: on those fathers who think they have the right to kill their children and/or current or former partners. We need to stop pretending these men have histories of mental illness because they don’t. They have histories of domestic violence and controlling behaviour but those aren’t signs of mental illness and its incredibly offensive to those who suffer from mental illness to pretend otherwise.

My friend Kritique is far more eloquent on this issue than I. This is her response to the case on this Mumsnet thread.

Family annihilators don’t always have a history of mental illness. Many have been abusive towards their partners or at least have had quite “controlling” tendencies related to their families. Sometimes, they have careers where they are required to compete and/or are in positions of power and status. Conversely, they are in jobs of a lower status, but play out their need for power and control in the domestic sphere. 

It seems they are most likely to kill if they feel their control over their partner and family is at risk. For example, they might have lost their job or been convicted of a crime or something else that means they feel they can no longer be the “provider.” Most commonly, however, it happens when the relationship is breaking down or has ended, which signals to them that they are losing control of their family. Some will kill the children as the ultimate punishment for an ex partner, but it has also been suggested that those who kill their children and not their ex partner may do so simply because it is easier to get the opportunity to do so. 

Once their family are dead, the man then literally has no purpose in life, if his obsession in life was to control them, so that’s when he commits or attempts suicide. Basically, the phenomenon seems to stem from a belief in male entitlement taken to an extreme. Although there are often signs that something could happen (e.g. man with history of abuse and/or control, experiences sudden change in his position and/or end of relationship, etc.) which agencies could pick up on, they are rarely noticed until after the incident. Even where the woman, a relative or friend reports concerns to the police, these concerns are rarely acted upon. Lives could be saved if there was greater awareness of the problem and a commitment to intervention to protect women and children at risk.

The media tend to be very, very coy in describing incidents where women are killed by their partners. Quite frequently it will be something very brief like, “A man and a woman in their mid 30’s were found dead in Acacia Avenue this morning. The incident is being regarded as unexplained but no one else is being sought in connection with the killings.” If you aren’t paying attention and don’t read between the lines, you won’t “get” that it was probably a man who killed his partner then himself. While tabloids will splash lurid headlines about murder and violence, particularly where the perpetrators fit the model of “villain” quite neatly, it’s as though hacks are afraid to frighten the horses if they more than whisper that a man has killed his partner in cold blood. 

But, sometimes the stories break big, particularly where there are children killed. Then something of a “formula” is followed for reporting. Lots of photos of cute children, children smiling with their dad and happy family shots. Statements from friends, neighbours, teachers, etc. about how happy/pretty/clever the children were. Statements from co-workers, neighbours, friends about what a loving/caring/hardworking/committed father the killer was, with much hand wringing about what would “drive” him to do this. Comments about him being under pressure/depressed/stressed/worried generally follow.

Then there are almost always insinuations about the dead woman. She left him/was threatening to leave/was restricting access to the children/was having an affair/he thought she was having an affair/he was worried she would have an affair/she was demanding/she spent too much money, etc. Dead women tell no tales but there are always plenty of people willing to tell tales about them, whether there is any truth or not.

The goal of such reports really seems to tug the heartstrings over the loss of “innocent” children’s lives, attempts to excuse or justify the man’s actions and efforts to demonise the dead woman. If they succeed in this goal, then we can swiftly forget that women are far more at risk of being killed by a partner than a stranger. This stops us worrying about the inequity in many male / female relationships and the serious risks many women face from their partners.
It’s late and I don’t have time to look up more links, but most of the literature suggests that women who kill their children are more likely to have a previously diagnosed mental illness than men who kill their children. Women very, very rarely kill their partners then kill or attempt to kill themselves.

We owe it to the children who are murdered and their mothers who have to live with the grief to start taking this crime seriously. We need to stop blaming the victims of violence and place the blame squarely where it belongs: on the men who perpetrate domestic violence or who decide to kill their children.

Some links to research and news reports on Family Annihilators:

This 2008 report on murder-suicides in the US, found that only about 5% of murder victims of murder-suicides are male and 74% were murdered by an intimate partner (who then committed suicide.)

This File on 4 programme from March of this year discusses similar features of cases where men kill their families and then themselves.

BBC: What Drives a Father to Kill His Children?

Newsweek: Inside the Minds of Family Annihilators

Guardian: Leave the Children Out of It

Marie Claire: Why Men Kill Their Own Children

Shocking Event: Dominic Monaghan Forgets that Hollywood Approves of VAW

Dominic Monaghan appears to have forgotten that Hollywood approves of domestic violence and violence against women in general. Instead of offering Matthew Fox an Academy Award like Roman Polanski or a standing ovation like Chris Brown, Monaghan called Fox out on serial domestic violence. I mean, even Fox News has noticed and they are hardly on the forefront of anything that’s not racist or misogynistic or homophobic or disablist. Reece Witherspoon, Christina Aguilera and Patrick Stewart have all spoken publicly on the issue but Hollywood doesn’t seem to be listening. Disney’s Beauty and the Beast remains one of their “most-loved” films despite clearly being a case of Stockholm syndrome complete with tap-dancing kettle and lecherous candlestick. Belle passes up the local abusive village man for the rich abusive man with a castle. That’s not exactly a feminist position. It’s certainly not a choice I would want for my daughters.

Frothy Dragon wrote eloquently here about the relationship between Jeremy Kyle, domestic violence and reality television. Making domestic violence the subject of reality television is truly despicable women-hating. The Entertainment Industry, in general, seems rooted in reinforcing and perpetuating domestic violence as “sexy” and “edgy” [and this is without discussing Twilight: A Guide to Finding Dangerous Relationships for Teenagers]. We wonder why the domestic violence rate is so high and, yet, surround teenagers with images of “romantic” stalkers and “bad boys”. These images are dangerous and nasty.

So, whilst, this seems ridiculous thing to have to do, I’d like to give recognition to a man standing up against domestic violence [even if I think the Eminem video Monaghan starred in last year fetishised DV].

Here’s hoping more male celebrities get off their asses and start standing up for women instead of celebrating the men who abuse them like:

Mike Tyson: rapist and domestic violence
Roman Polanski: child rapist
Chris Brown: domestic violence
Charlie Sheen: domestic violence and abuse of prostitutes
James Brown: domestic violence
Hugh Grant: abusing a prostitute
Ched Evans: rapist
Sean Connery: domestic violence
Ike Turner: domestic violence
Mel Gibson: probation for domestic violence [not to mention the issue of racism]
Harry Morgan: domestic violence
Tupac Shakur: sexual abuse
Richard Hatch: domestic assault
Anthony Kiedis: indecent exposure and sexual battery
Flea: battery
Chad Smith: battery
Tracy Lawrence: domestic abuse
Dennis Rodman: domestic abuse
Mickey Rourke: domestic abuse
Sean Penn: domestic abuse
Paul Gascoigne: domestic violence
Stan Collymore: domestic violence
Bill Wyman: for being a child rapist even if never convicted of it.
R. Kelly: domestic abuse [amongst some other horrifying accusations]
Micheal Lohan: domestic violence
Larry Fitzgerald: restraining order for domestic violence
Santonia Holmes: multiple arrests for domestic violence
Tommy Lee: domestic violence
Alec Baldwin: emotional abuse
Steven Tyler: inappropriate relationship with a minor [which should have resulted in statuatory rape charges like Wyman]

This list is just from a 10 minute search on google.

And, yeah, I’ve included purchasing women for sexual purposes as violence against women because it is VAW; as is pornography.

The Story the Media isn’t covering: The Scottish Cup Final

Today is the Scottish Cup Final. Apparently, it’s the Hibs and the Hearts playing. I don’t follow football and I actually don’t care all that much. At least, I don’t care about who actually wins the Scottish Cup. What I do care about is the consequences of the game on women. All sporting events bring an increase in domestic violence, rape and the abuse and trafficking of prostitutes. In 2010, the Association of Chief Police Officers made public warnings about the increase in domestic violence during the World Cup. The Washington Post covered the increased risk of sex trafficking during the Super Bowl. The 2010 Vancouver Olympics was accompanied by the highly successful “Buying Sex is not a Sport” campaign. There is very real media coverage of the increase in violence but it isn’t targeting that group of men who will use their victory/defeat as an excuse to hurt women. We need more athletes, especially professional footballers, to stand up and start taking responsibility for the consequences of the hyper-masculine culture which they inhabit. After all, I didn’t see huge swathes of footballers calling Ched Evans a rapist, even after he was convicted. It isn’t just athletes who can stop violence against women. Everyone needs to step up and take responsibility for the safety of women around them.

These are the statistics on domestic violence in “normal” situations:
  • A victim can suffer from 35 attacks before the abuse is reported to the police.
  • In the UK on average two women per week are killed by a current or former male partner.
  • Domestic abuse accounts for 15 per cent of all violent incidents.
  • One in four women and one in six men will be a victim of domestic abuse in their lifetime with women at greater risk of repeat victimisation and serious injury.
  • 89 per cent of those suffering four or more incidents are women.
  • One incident of domestic violence is reported to the police every minute
The 2006 World Cup campaign saw an average increase of 25% in terms of domestic violence calls. By 2010, research by Manchester police was suggesting an average of 30% higher than normal; this research was confirmed by the Home Office. That is for domestic violence alone.  It does not cover rape, sexual violence or the abuse of prostitutes. 

Dr Catherine Palmer, of Durham University, was tasked with reviewing all the literature which could demonstrate a link between violence against women and sport after the World Cup in 2010. The report is available here via the End Violence Against Women Coalition. These are the themes raised in the report: 
• there are clear links between expressions and enactments of masculinity and sport- related violence against women;
• sport-related violence against women occurs in a range of settings and contexts, including homes, pubs and clubs, hotel rooms, brothels, the street and other public spaces;
• sport-related violence against women is perpetrated by both male athletes and by male fans or consumers of sport and sporting events, as well as by coaches of female athletes;
• human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation remains difficult to quantify, with the research evidence frequently being contradictory, but literature suggests that events such as London 2012 may well provide a context in which women and girls could be trafficked;
• the literature suggests that the influx of tourists, site workers and contractors, the media, and indeed the athletes themselves, at major sporting events creates a particular environment that may have an impact on women’s safety;
• the literature suggests the increased population in the UK for the Olympic Games and Paralympics and the Commonwealth Games may create a greater demand for on and off street prostitution;
• events such as the 2010 World Cup have highlighted the connections between sports spectatorship and intimate partner violence, and the need for police, authorities and services to be aware of this when planning sporting events;
• excessive alcohol consumption is a contributing factor in the above;
• the literature suggests that there is sufficient evidence for agencies and authorities to be concerned about a potential increase in trafficking, prostitution, sexual exploitation, sexual assault and harassment, and intimate partner violence. There is a need to act now in order to respond to and prepare for London 2012, Glasgow 2014 and other major sporting events.

These statistics are horrifying and we, as a society, are simply not taking the responsibility for changing the patriarchal structures which consider it normal to abuse women’s bodies as a reaction to how their team performed. 

Today, everyone needs to take responsibility for the safety of women. 
Witnessing violence without phoning the police is condoning violence.
Men who “buy” prostitutes are committing sexual violence.
Sex trafficking includes moving women within a city.

Dial 999


Women’s Aid: 0808 2000 247
Rape Crisis Scotland: 08088 010 302 

Stop Cutting Funding to Domestic Violence Services

On Monday April 16th, the House of Commons will once again debate the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill after the House of Lords made extremely important amendments to the Bill which should improve eligibility for legal aid in family law cases which involve domestic violence. There have already been closures with Haven Wolverhampton closing its counselling services on March 31st. The full scale of the cuts to domestic violence and its effects on women is evidenced in article in the Independent this week.

We have one last chance to ensure that cuts to domestic violence services stop. 
Please email your MP with your concerns about the cuts to services. Rights of Women: helping women through the law has a template letter that you can use. 

Petition Here: Stop Cutting Funding To Domestic Violence Resources.
Responsible department: Her Majesty’s Treasury
The recent cuts to domestic violence resources mean that more women will be forced to return to abusive relationships, thus risking the lives of more and more women and children. We ask the government to refrain from making further cuts to the Domestic Violence resources, which so many women rely on to escape abusive relationships; cuts which risk the safety of women and children across the UK.

The following information is taken directly from the Rights of Women website. I will take it down after Monday but this information needs to be out there:

Briefing for the House of Commons, April 2012

The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill 2011 (the Bill) removes almost all legal aid for private family law cases. The Government has stated its commitment to ensuring that legal aid for family law cases continues to be available to those affected by domestic violence. However, the Government plans to introduce dangerously restrictive evidential gateways through secondary legislation which will exclude the majority of domestic violence victims. Rights of Womens research with Welsh Womens Aid indicates that at least 46% of domestic violence victims would be ineligible for legal aid under the Governments proposals because they will not be able to satisfy these evidence gateways.[1]

The House of Lords introduced vital amendments to the Bill to ensure that legal aid will truly be available to victims of domestic violence in family law cases. Baroness Scotlands amendments 192, 194 and 196 to the Bill ensure that the evidence gateways reflect the reality of victims experiences of violence and the broad range of evidence they are likely to have.

       Amendment 192 ensures the cross-government definition of domestic violence is included in the Bill; which reflects the range of violence experienced by most victims.

       Amendment 194 seeks to widen the evidence gateways to include evidence most victims are likely to be able to produce, for example evidence from a doctor, or a domestic violence support worker, in order to access legal aid.

       Amendment 196 removes the 12 month time limit the Government proposes to apply to most of the evidence; so women can use evidence that is more than 12 months old.

Evidencing domestic violence is very difficult, if not impossible for many women. The routes which women seek to find safety from violence and abuse are many and complex. They are also entirely dependent on a womans individual circumstances. Despite attempts to address it, domestic violence remains a largely hidden crime. Many women will not disclose the violence they are experiencing to anyone and will not report it to statutory agencies for various complex reasons.

The NFWI conducted research into violence against women and legal aid, to inform the development of the Bill. One woman who took part in the research told us;

Ive never reported any incidence of violence with my ex-partner, the only time I reported it was when I got pregnant. And Social Services were involved so I reported it to them. I never saw the police as an option because I didnt think they could help abused women.[2]

In 2010 124,895 women accessed Womens Aid England member services including 17,615 who escaped violence to live in refuges. In their 2010 annual survey only 15% of women in their member refuges had a conviction against their perpetrator, only 25% had a protective injunction and only 19% had been referred to a MARAC (see the evidence gateways proposed by the Government below).

The evidence gateways in Amendment 194

(a) a court conviction or police caution;

(b) a protective court order such as a non-molestation order, occupation order or forced marriage protection order;

(c) relevant criminal proceedings or a police report confirming attendance at an incident resulting from domestic violence;

(d) evidence that a victim has been referred to a multi-agency risk assessment conference;

(e) a finding of fact in the family courts of domestic violence by the other party giving rise to the risk of harm to the victim;

(f) a medical report from a doctor;

(g) a letter from a registered general practitioner;

(h) an undertaking given to a court by the alleged perpetrator of the abuse that he or she will not approach the applicant who is the victim of the abuse;

 (i) a letter from a social services department;

(j) a letter of support or a report from a domestic violence support organisation; or

(k) other well-founded documentary evidence of abuse, such as from a counsellor, midwife, school or witness.

The evidence gateways proposed by the Government

(a) a non-molestation order, occupation order, forced marriage protection order or other protective injunction is either in place or has been made in the last 12 months;

(b) a criminal conviction, or ongoing criminal proceedings;

(c) the victim has been referred to a Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference; or

(d) a finding of fact in the family courts of domestic violence by the other party giving rise to the risk of harm to the victim

It is worth noting that the alternative criteria laid out in Amendment 194 is tried and tested; the UK Border Agency uses this list to assess applications under the Domestic Violence Immigration Rule.

The twelve month timeframe will unnecessarily exclude women

The Government has applied a twelve month timeframe to most of the evidence criteria. This arbitrary timeframe fails to reflect the reality of domestic violence and the ongoing risk to womens safety. One woman who took part in the NFWI research told us;

He will always be a risk to me and my children and to women generally. I would love to know who the government are getting their advice from.In my case, yes, I couldve shown all that evidence had it been last year. Next year I cant because itll all be out of date.

The twelve month timeframe fails to take into account the fact that women are often put at risk again, after being safe for some time after leaving a violent relationship. For example many women will leave a violent relationship along with their children, years later the perpetrator applies for child contact or custody. At this point women need access to legal aid to effectively negotiate these legal proceedings. If the twelve month timeframe applies, they will no longer have the support of legal aid at this point.

It is therefore vital that the criteria for eligibility for family legal aid reflects the reality of domestic violence and both the legal, statutory and non-legal and informal routes which women choose to tackle the violence in their lives. We urge you to support Amendments 192, 193 and 196 to retain legal aid for victims of domestic violence and to raise your concerns on this issue with Ministers.

Rights of Women: Emma Scott or Katherine Perks 020 7251 6575 / emma@row.org.uk

National Federation of Womens Institutes: Sophie Howes 0207 371 9300 / s.howes@nfwi.org.uk

[1] Rights of Women and Welsh Womens Aid, Evidencing domestic violence, January 2012 (see www.rightsofwomen.org.uk)

[2] Legal Aid is a Lifeline: women speak out on the legal aid reforms, 2011 available at www.thewi.org,.uk

Gavin De Becker’s The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals that Protect us From Violence

The February Non-Fiction Mumsnet Feminist book club was Gavin De Becker’s The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals that Protect us from Violence. It isn’t an explicitly feminist text [and, obviously, not written by a woman] but I was so incensed by the absolute misogynistic twaddle being peddled as “romance” in Paula McLain’s The Paris Wife that I think the following information can not be stressed enough:

(T)here are many reliable pre-incident indicators associated with spousal violence and murder. They won’t all be present in every case, but if a situation has several of these signals, there is reason for concern:

1) The woman has intuitive feelings that she is at risk.

2) At the inception of the relationship, the man accelerated the pace, prematurely placing on the agenda such things as commitment, living together, and marriage.

3) He resolves conflict with intimidation, bullying, and violence.

4) He is verbally abusive.

5) He uses threats and intimidation as instruments of control or abuse. This includes threats to harm physically, to defame, to embarrass, to restrict freedom, to disclose secrets, to cut off support, to abandon, and to commit suicide.

6) He breaks or strikes things in anger. He uses symbolic violence (tearing a wedding photo, marring a face in a photo, etc.).

7) He has battered in prior relationships.

8) He uses alcohol or drugs with adverse affects (memory loss, hostility, cruelty).

9) He cites alcohol or drugs as an excuse or explanation for hostile or violent conduct (“That was the booze talking, not me; I got so drunk I was crazy”).

10) His history includes police encounters for behavioral offenses (threats, stalking, assault, battery).

11) There has been more than one incident of violent behavior (including vandalism, breaking things, throwing things).

12) He uses money to control the activities, purchases, and behavior of his wife/ partner.

13) He becomes jealous of anyone or anything that takes her time away from the relationship; he keeps her on a “tight leash,” requires her to account for her time.

14) He refuses to accept rejection.

15) He expects the relationship to go on forever, perhaps using phrases like “together for life,” “always,” “no matter what.”

16) He projects extreme emotions onto others (hate, love, jealousy, commitment) even when there is no evidence that would lead a reasonable person to perceive them.

17) He minimizes incidents of abuse.

18) He spends a disproportionate amount of time talking about his wife/ partner and derives much of his identity fiom being her husband, lover, etc.

19) He tries to enlist his wife’s friends or relatives in a campaign to keep or recover the relationship.

20) He has inappropriately surveilled or followed his wife/ partner.

21) He believes others are out to get him. He believes that those around his wife/partner dislike him and encourage her to leave.

22) He resists change and is described as inflexible, unwilling to compromise.

23) He identifies with or compares himself to violent people in films, news stories, fiction, or history He characterizes the violence of others as justified.

24) He suffers mood swings or is sullen, angry, or depressed.

25) He consistently blames others for problems of his own making; he refuses to take responsibility for the results of his actions.

26) He refers to weapons as instruments of power, control, or revenge.

27) Weapons are a substantial part of his persona; he has a gun or he talks about, jokes about, reads about, or collects weapons.

28) He uses “male privilege” as a justification for his conduct (treats her like a servant, makes all the big decisions, acts like the “master of the house”).

29) He experienced or witnessed violence as a child.

30) His wife/partner fears he will injure or kill her. She has discussed this with others or has made plans to be carried out in the event of her death (e.g., designating someone to care for children).

De Becker’s book is not without criticism particularly in its use of “choice” discourse in discussing intimate partner violence [IPV]. There are two clearly competing and conflicting theories: one in which women need to trust their instincts to prevent being victims and one in which women are being held responsible for being victims. He’s quite honest about his abusive father and I wonder how much of the second theory is [unconscious] unresolved anger at his own mother for not “protecting” him even though he [consciously] understands the pathology of IPV. However, the psychological IPV in The Paris Wife is so constant and insidious that the idea that it can be “romantic” is dangerous, destructive and the reason that Mumsnet has such a well-used Relationships board.