It's not the monster lurking in the dark women should fear, but the men they fall in love with.
The beginning of the book has shifted a little perspective of how I view domestic abuse all this time. According to the author, the term "domestic violence" is replaced with "domestic abuse" in the book because some of the worst abusive relationships rarely display physical violence. Many women didn't realise that they are experiencing abuses differently, although their partners never laid a hand on them.
Victoria's 24/7 family violence helpline, Safe Steps, receives a call every three minutes at its busiest. Many women are repeat callers. On average, they will return to an abusive partner seven times before leaving for good. Usually, the first question that appears in our mind is why the woman decides to go back even she has been repeatedly abused by her partner. What frustrates the phone counsellor is the partner chose to abuse the woman again, although he promised to stop. To be honest, the phone counsellor's reply is an eye-opener to me. At the same time, I felt ashamed that I only focus on the woman's inability to leave her partner and never think the other point of view on this issue. It made me felt that I'm lacking empathy and understanding for the victim.
What should surprise us about domestic abuse is not that a woman can take a long time to leave, but that she has the mental fortitude to survive.
Domestic abuse is commonly associated with physical violence against their partners or family members. Reading this book increases my understanding that abuse is not only limited to physical harm but can also be sexual, psychological, emotional or economic abuse. It can take years only for someone to realise that she is in an abusive relationship. Australia has been continuously raising awareness of domestic abuse. Many charities or not-for-profit organisations have been working diligently to protect the victims and help them rebuild their lives. But sadly, deaths caused by domestic abuse keeps appearing on the news every day.
This book consists of a thorough investigation of the perpetrator's mindset and behaviour patterns in building a controlling relationship. The perpetrator will take his time to gain the trust until the partner unconsciously submissive to him. When the partner realises her life is at risk, it is probably too late to free herself from the invisible trap that has been set by the abuser all this time. Mind manipulation, enforcing trivial demands, isolation from family and friends, and alternate punishments with rewards are some of the typical traits of domestic abusers, which are discussed in this book.
It covers every perspective - including some of the commonly overlooked areas by society regarding domestic abuse. It begins with analysing the perpetrator's abusive mind and dissecting what other possible causes lead them to be an abuser. From understanding the abuser's behaviours, the book discusses how victims being treated by the police and the family courts in a patriarchal society. It brings us to the world of victims (mostly are women and children) and how victims' well-being is always ignored by the authorities. Undertrained police in handling domestic violence and the failing of family court that adopts overrated 'experts' in custody cases have been well-exposed in the book.
Some women victims have been seeking aid several times but mostly have to return to their abusers in the end. They don't have any other choices because they have nowhere to go, and their partners often threaten to harm their children if they do so. The victims trust the police to protect them from danger, but unfortunately, the police's patience is thinner than the victim's endurance and mental strength. Children that are living at risk with their abusive parent(s) have vehemently refused to return home, but their voices are often being ignored because they are too young to give their accounts. This even worse for Indigenous women when family violence being treated as "cultural violence". It's heartbreaking when police are giving up to protect the sufferers. And it's helpless when family court with its "experts" fails to offer justice for the victims and safety for abused children.
When I'm reading this book, two news related to domestic violence is highly reported in a week. On Tuesday, a woman's body was found burned in the backyard on the Gold Coast. She was set alight by her ex-partner, who has breached a domestic violence order while her three young children were still inside the house (Man accused of murdering Gold Coast woman found burnt in Arundel backyard remanded in custody). On Wednesday in Adelaide, a father and a baby girl died in a suspected murder-suicide by jumping from the Whispering Wall. Later the police found a history of domestic violence in the family (SA Police reveal identity of man and baby girl who died at Whispering Wall).
How much unreported domestic violence occurring every day, probably in every minute or every second around the world? It always only captures the required attention after a horrific tragedy happened to the victims. They had desperately asked for help several times, but none were given when they needed it.
Sometimes, I felt it's a cycle of a process that never lead anywhere. The victims keep asking for help from the authorities, but in the end, the victims have to continue living in danger with their children. This process keeps looping until a tragedy occurs to the victim. When a horrific thing has been widely known in the country, the police now only realise they have to do something. Then, the police investigation will reveal that the victim actually went to police numerous times before the tragedy or the history of the domestic violence in the family. And the next stage is the promise of launching a thorough investigation and an inquiry into it. After a series of investigations and an inquiry, what's next? Nothing. Let's move on to the next domestic violence victim, and the cycle continues. It's not only distressing to continuously witnessing or hearing all these horrific tragedies; there are times, you just feel helpless and frustrated. Maybe there is something within the system that I don't understand, but when such news repetitively appearing on TV, I will be confusingly asking the question of why the police never help or protect her after she went to them several times? Like a question in a literal Cantonese way of asking, "Where are the humans?" All the investigations and inquiries seem to lead to no further prevention actions besides giving closure to the victim's family and the required answer to the public. I wish there can be more to be done to protect the current victims and avoid a similar tragedy happening again. But at the present stage, I really can't see any concrete action or any firm commitments from the government in reducing domestic violence. Refusing to accept the system is broken is equivalent to ignoring the existence of the problem. Such tragedy will not and should not happen if the system is working well.
ISBN: 9781743820865 (ebook)
Number of Pages: 416
Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)
More reviews can be found on Goodreads: See What You Made Me Do: Power, Control and Domestic Violence by Jess Hill.