Trigger warning for domestic violence
As an Angry Queer Feminist Blogger, there are a lot of things that make me ranty-pants. My poor flatmates put up with a lot of shouting and rage from me over various things—and one of my surefire buttons is the use of scare quotes in the media. To that end, the flatmates (well, the awake one, who is currently baking me cookies, bless his soul) have just been treated to a lot of flailing about an article on Stuff today: Family violence ‘victim’ breaks policewoman’s jaw. My rage hasn’t really dissipated upon actually reading the article—first of all, because it’s quite clear from the first three paragraphs that the police officers were not dealing with a ‘victim’, but a victim. And yes, that distinction—the use of scare quotes, versus not—is bloody important.
The female victim tried to physically intervene as the two male officers attempted to arrest the male, Taupo police area commander, inspector Steve Bullock said.
“The female officer was verbally and physically assaulted as she attempted to hold her back, receiving a kick to her face in the process.”
And of course, rounding out the article is a healthy dose of solid victim blaming:
“Unfortunately this is a sad example of a case where police are called to help a victim and end up becoming a victim instead.”
Police attend a number of family violence callouts each night, usually where alcohol is a factor, Bullock said.
“Sadly, despite being a victim in a violent situation, many choose not to take further action or attempt to prevent Police from doing their job, as happened in this case.”
Oh, just… I’m sorry that not every victim of domestic violence reacts the way that would make your job easiest. Am I the only one that is getting really sick of reading police whining in the news about how victims are reluctant to press charges against their husbands, their boyfriends, the father of their children, as though this is somehow goddamn shocking. I get that you want to help*. Trust me, I understand that it must be really bloody frustrating to see a situation where someone is clearly suffering and have that person refuse to let you help them. But by failing to understand the very complicated relationships that victims of domestic violence have with their abusers, by refusing to acknowledge the emotional manipulations that many abusers use against their victims to keep them emotionally separated from their family and friends or convince them that they’re not worth anything better or no one will believe them if they come forward, or by flat-out ignoring the fact that many people have very solid reasons to believe that they cannot trust the police, you cannot hope to gain even the slightest headway on a systematic problem.
At least the police aren’t using scare quotes, I suppose. Once again: fuck your scare quotes, Stuff.
*Except when the abuser is white, upper-middle class, and/or an all-round Good GuyTM. Then it’s far more likely that the victim will be encouraged to not press charges at all.