Saturday, April 15, 2006

Domestic Violence

It's very likely that sentencing for Domestic Violence offences in England and Wales will soon be downgraded and that if the man shows genuine contrition then he'll be sentenced to a community order rather than prison.

This has wound me up immensley and I have been intending to write about this for a while, but I found a letter in the Daily Telegraph which sums up all my arguments:

Sorry is too easy

Sir -

It is only in the past decade that domestic violence (News, April 12) has been recognised for what it is, a crime that has far-reaching effects on both the victim and children. It would be a retrograde step if the sentencing guidelines encouraged the courts to regard signs of remorse as a means of avoiding a custodial sentence. Many victims have discovered, with the benefit of hindsight, that an apparently genuine display of remorse has been little more than a coldly calculated means of avoiding punishment. The perpetrators are often skilled at emotionally manipulating their victims and at convincing themselves that, if no charge has been made, no crime has been committed. The violence, whether physical, mental or emotional, is usually the result of a deep-rooted personality disorder, which it is unlikely that a domestic violence programme will cure. Punishment is the only way that offenders can be forced to face the seriousness of their behaviour and it is essential they then receive the appropriate medical help if they are not to reoffend.

Anne Wells, Reading, Berks

Well done to Anne Wells for saying exactly what I was thinking, and probably much better than I could.

Let's remember though that while women are the largest group of victims of Domestic Violence, men are affected and its a problem in the gay community too. All victims deserve protection and all perpetrators need punishment and/or treatment.


Chaotic Mom said...

Wow. This is sad news. And I'm here in the US happy that we're finally giving such offenders longer sentences. Well, working on it, anyway.

Found you on the T13 blogroll...

ContraTory said...

It all depends upon the definition of "domestic violence" and the circumstances in which it arises. The news item about "contrition" being a reason for not locking up wife/partner beaters was misleading. The definition of "domestic violence" has become so broad that it has started including people who are not thugs or do not have anger management problems. In an area close to me, on occasions both the husband and wife have been arrested for assaulting each other during the course of a slappy argument. It is ludicrous for Police, Court and prison resources being wasted in cases like that.

Louise said...

Contra, you do make an interesting point about the definition of "domestic violence". Is a fight domestic violence? I don't know. These cases however are the minority.

The majority of cases of domestic violence involve one partner (not always the man) verbally, mentally and physically abusing the other. Many victims do not report this initially because the perpetrator appears truly contrite. They aren't contrite - they are manipulative and for the state and judiciary system to be suckered in by this contrition will make it more difficult for abused spouses to leave and seek help.

Two women a week on average are murdered in the UK by a partner or ex-partner. We should be doing more to protect victims and not less.

Anyway, after that rant.... welcome to the site. Come back soon. :-)