Guilty…Friday Fictioneers.

Leaving court, the victim’s elderly mother was propped up by her two strapping sons. Justice served, the violent ex-husband was guilty as hell.

Yet, was I the only one who questioned the verdict? The only one struck by their own guilt?

The writing was on the wall. So, why didn’t we act?

More than once, I’d seen the tell-tale, heavy makeup. Yet, I never tried to wipe it away. Call a spade a spade. Rather, I observed the code of silence, and touched up my own face.

Peeling off this mask won’t be easy, but I’m changing course.

I will survive.

…..

In parenting circles, you often hear the proverb that it takes a village to raise a child. However, what you hear less often, if at all, is that it takes the village to keep its citizens safe. Moreover, that we as individuals have a responsibility to look out for each other. To step in, especially when a mate is in trouble. However, where the waters start to get more murky, is when it comes to domestic violence. Interfering in someone else’s relationship is seen as a no-go zone. However, it can reach a point where someone’s life might be at risk and we need to step in. Yet, what are we supposed to do? We’re a friend, a brother, sister, parent…not an expert. The one thing I do know, is that we somehow need to find a way, and a quiet place, to ask the next question. Present yourself as a safe place…a harbour in the storm. That at least leaves the door open for someone to turn to us about a whole swag of issues before it’s too late. Don’t just ask if they’re okay. Follow your gut and never give up.

By the way, I’d just like to add that men can also be victims of domestic violence.

It’s not altogether surprising that I addressed this issue tonight. The body of a young woman was found beside the freeway today, when my Mum was driving up to see us. It drove home yet again why we can’t turn a blind eye.

This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff Fields PHOTO PROMPT © Ted Strutz 😀 (Thanks, Ted)

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

 

30 thoughts on “Guilty…Friday Fictioneers.

  1. pensitivity101

    Two old ladies reported a child’s screams and the social services were called in.
    The ‘offender’ was a mother washing her daughter’s hair, which she absolutely hated!
    The mother found out who had reported her, and invited the ladies to afternoon tea. They became firm friends when all was explained and even babysat for her. The daughter grew out of it.

  2. Gary A Wilson

    Such a dilemma: trust that genetics will always keep parents from harming their children or trust the often inept systems established by government to faithfully investigate and act to protect an endangered child especially when there are those out in this fallen world who will dishonestly trigger investigations as a weapon against innocent parents or limits in resources to do right by the child.

    I have worked with children via our own church for many years and even from that vantage point have had my heart broken by some portion of society that chooses not act in the best interest of a child who cannot protect themselves.

    It hurts when evil is not instantly punished.

    Well done yet again Rowena.

  3. Björn Rudberg (brudberg)

    I hope that I would dare to step in if I ever saw it… but I guess that everyone becomes an expert at hiding the signs… also I think that many abusive spouses become expert to make bruises in places where they cannot be seen… who would guess that a long sleeved jumper in summer hides the bruises?

  4. Dale

    A horrid story in the subject, not the telling… But yes, please do fix the first lines.. Something went amuck!

  5. StuHN

    The National Domestic Violence Hotline
    1-800-799-SAFE (7233)

    Obviously, that is for North America. There should be agencies around the world. Should is the key word.

  6. Fatima Fakier

    The novel that I’m working on has this theme of domestic violence in it. And people do try to intervene, the well-intentioned, but the mental state of the victim is really difficult to change. Counsellors can correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe that being stuck in a cycle of abuse means it becomes normal for them. That is all they know. They cannot perceive of a life without it and that is what keeps them stuck in it. Trying to help sometimes gets them into more trouble if the abuser finds out. Any intervention must be very discreet and confidential.

    At the end of the day, the victim chooses to leave. And when she/he does they need to be assured they will be kept safe. Away from their abusers. Shelters usually provide this kind of security and confidentiality.

    I think if any of my friends or neighbours or someone I suspected was a victim, I’d hint to them of a place that helps victims. Without letting them know that I suspect their situation.
    It is very tricky to help them unless they feel a reason to do so. Usually for the sake of their kid’s safety, they are prompted to make changes.

    Gosh, a thought-provoking story. One I am passionate about as you can see! And i’m glad you mentioned that their are male victims too. Just as serious, but the dynamics are different. And statistically more women die at hands of their partners than male victims. It is a pandemic in South Africa too.

  7. Sandra

    It’s an interesting dilemma. I once faced a similar situation when I saw a neighbour berating his clearly terrified children. That worked out for the best, but a whole lot of heart-searching went on before it did. Nicely done, Rowena.

  8. Rowena Post author

    Thanks, Sandra. As we’ve both found, being a bystander is a lot more complicated and challenging than you expect in theory. It is hard to know when to move a move and when to leave it be and allow things to resolve on their own. I have worked in Health and had it explained the community services takes in reports and it’s only really if there’s been a number of reports that things get escalated in a serious way. Knowing that, I reported an altercation I had with a parent at the school once and how his children seemed a bit intimidated. They rang me back within 5 minutes and were very concerned for her welfare. This intervention led to him being taken into care for treatment for schizaphrenia as he was refusing his meds. Things worked out for awhile but I think the kids ultimately ended up in care, which is sad.
    Best wishes,
    Rowena

  9. Rowena Post author

    Thanks for your passionate reply, Fatima and it’s great you’re working DV into a novel as the word needs to get out. I found that when my kids were younger and I knew the other mums better, that I’d pick up on things more easily but now that they’re in high school, not so much. Don’t have much contact with the other parents.
    I just found this article by former Australian Labor Leader Mark Latham which you would find interesting: https://www.marklathamsoutsiders.com/if_only_rosie_batty_hadn_t_made_her_trauma_about_power
    I’d interested in your feedback.
    Best wishes,
    Rowena

  10. Rowena Post author

    Thanks, Dale. Had no idea something went awry at the start. I’ll blame our very obsessed pup Rosie who keeps depositing sticks and even fragments of sticks on my laptop while I’m writing. She is quite deft with her paw and has been known to press a few buttons, not so carefully editing my work in the process. Best wishes, Rowena

  11. Rowena Post author

    You’d think so Dale, but that dog is smarter than the average human and is rather chuffed at how well she’s trained me. Meanwhile, my husband was boasting about how she doesn’t ask him to throw the stick. I told him that she’s decided he’s defective and untrainable.
    Best wishes,
    Rowena

  12. pennygadd51

    Excellent message, Rowena, and some skilful writing. I particularly like the suggestion that the narrator could have ‘wiped away’ the heavy make-up. That’s a nice juxtaposition of the literal and the metaphorical.
    I was intrigued by your closing line “I will survive”. That implies that the narrator, too, experiences domestic violence, doesn’t it? Or have I read too much into it?

  13. subroto

    This was an interesting layered story about domestic violence. The heavy make-up hides the truth about her life.
    Have you read “The Woman Who Walked Into Doors” by Roddy Doyle? Written in first-person narrative it is a powerful novel about domestic abuse.

  14. Rowena Post author

    I haven’t read it and it sounds quite interesting being in the first person. Do you think it rings true?

  15. Rowena Post author

    You’re spot on, Penny. I thought that I’d make the code of silence more than just a society thing, but also almost a pact between victims.

  16. Fatima Fakier

    I had to read it several times as I felt I had joined a conversation that was far along already. Seems as if a child died from abusive father and somehow this was turned into women being victims of DV?

    I believe there are many contributing factors to DV. Many victims. Including the abuser. Treating this social problem cannot be simply a feminist issue. The abusers need compassion too to extent that rehabilitation or help for their violence can be as available to them as shelters for victims are.
    Other contributing factors exist in wider social picture. In South Africa they are looking at cultures which influence female subservience to males. Also the crime rate, gangsterism and poverty are linked.
    It would take a multi pronged approach.
    Feminism is also about men not having to stick to outdated gender roles or behaviours. So it is also about men being able to get help for DV whether as victims or abusers.
    Bottom line, victims and abusers need help to stop the cycle of violence. Irrespective of gender.

  17. subroto

    “The Woman Who Walked Into Doors” is quite brilliant in it’s treatment of the subject, though it jumps back and forth through a timeline. The title itself comes from the excuses made by the central character to the doctors to explain her bruises from domestic violence. Definitely worth a read.

  18. granonine

    I had to read this a couple of times, trying to fit all the pieces together. Am I correct that the victim was a child of the abusive husband and his victimized wife? And I’m wondering why the two “strapping” sons didn’t intervene to protect their sister or mother from the guilty man’s attacks.

    As a therapist, I know you are correct about the difficulty of intervening in the private matters of other people. I am glad that we seem to be moving away from the old “what happens behind closed doors stays behind closed doors” mentality. Violence, abuse, assault–all are often felonious crimes and that doesn’t change just because the victim was related to the criminal.

  19. Rowena Post author

    Linda, sorry for the delayed reply. The idea behind it was that the narrator was a close friend of the victim who felt guilty for not stepping in to help, especially as she is a victim of DV herself and recognised the signs. However, she hasn’t left herself and that’s what she’s now moving towards.
    I thought of the two strapping sons holding the mother up and being her rock but didn’t consider why they didn’t step in to help their sister. That said, from my understanding victims of DV become increasingly estranged from their families and so that could be the case. Perhaps, they simply didn’t know. As you would now as a therapist, it’s such a complex area and the psychology can be particularly difficult to understand. I am currently supporting a friend who is leaving and there’s so much organization to be done. So many risks. They say it takes a village to bring up a child, but it also takes the village to help a person experiencing DV to leave and be able to find their feet. Feet which will be able to carry them forward into their new life.
    Best wishes,
    Rowena

  20. granonine

    Thanks, Rowena. I appreciate the time you took with your response. Yes, DV is hard, no matter what. It is very normal for the abuser to have cut his victim off from family, friends, and finances so that she is completely dependent on him. Horrible situation.

  21. Rowena Post author

    I am currently helping someone through this and we’ve reached moving day, which is great news. She’s come such a long way. Very proud of her.

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