- File Size: 1083 KB
- Print Length: 347 pages
- Publisher: Black Inc. (June 24, 2019)
- Publication Date: June 24, 2019
- Language: English
- ASIN: B07M8RGLF7
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #197,065 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
See What You Made Me Do: Power, Control and Domestic Abuse Kindle Edition
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Top international reviews
I hope that this book finds a wide audience. Personally I’m so glad that I read it - I have learned so much.
I’d recommend it for literally everyone, woman particularly, to read. The statistics mean that you absolutely are going to encounter someone in your life/work living with coercive control and/or violence. If you work in any caring profession, within family law, or in an emergency service, it should be mandatory reading.
This is in contrast to a body of evidence that shows that both men and women can be violent and abusive in relationships, but at the same time, women are more likely to get hurt, presumably as a result of sexual dimorphism.
I think my problem was expecting a journalist to be a competent science writer, rather than an advocate for a cause. Some specific critiques:
Accepts dodgy and overstated numbers uncritically - e.g. "one women murdered by an abusive partner every week", however in 2017 a total of 56 women died from assault in Australia according to ABS statistics (3303.0). I guess all but six of these died in their homes???;
Writes off institutional decisions and policy by selectively presenting case studies to refute decisions and policy;
Accepts "just so" stories to write off a large body of research implicating women in domestic violence - i.e. accepts shallow methodological critiques based on plausibility rather than presenting data to reject evidence she doesn't like;
Ignores high prevalence of women amongst perpetrators of child abuse and neglect; and
Defines two classes of domestic violence - coercive practiced by males and bad, and reactive - practiced by some men and all women and really just nasty fighting, but not a lot of science behind it, although I imagine it assists her in avoiding cognative dissonance.
Anyway, to anyone who has ever had to share a household with a violent and angry women, including children who have ended up with depression and anxiety issues, you'll be pleased to know that it wasn't that bad after all, and that immaturity and lack of anger control is not the problem, patriarchy is.
And Jess has the answer to domestic violence - just go and find a patriarchy and drive a stake through its heart.
The concept of masculinity needs a radical overhaul. Time and again it has been shown that the traditional concept of the powerful male hurts many boys and men, taking away their tenderness. In the Nordic countries where male-female equality is more deeply entrenched, domestic abuse is rising, due no doubt, to a confusion about how to be male. The section on the rise and ubiquity of hardcore gonzo porn is also dispiriting. Who can tell what psychological harm it is doing? Do men really think that women appreciate being sexually tortured? There is much to cry about in this book, not least of all the fact that domestic abuse is rising and becoming more severe. Yet just as behaviour change around things like drink driving and smoking were successfully implemented by government campaigns it is possible for well targeted government action to lessen this societal scourge. What would we have then? People who are happier and safer, with a whole lot less cost to the communal purse. This is a brilliant book and should be required reading for every politician and policy maker.
It surveys the scale and many dimensions of the problem of domestic abuse; draws upon a representative selection of available research both here and overseas; explains how some erroneous and misleading ideas have resulted in immeasurable harm to victims; debunks the claims particularly of men’s rights groups and shows how some feminists’ ideological positions have hindered rather than helped their cause; how men are struggling to change their own attitudes from a hierarchical, patriarchal world-view to one in which women are equal to them; how the entire court and legal, police, and social services systems are failing in their duty of care to women and children while compounding the abuse; how despite egregious failures, spectacular cases of deaths at the hands of perpetrators, political breast beating and hot air, the political response in Australia (with one or two exceptions) remains after the awakening of public consciousness in 2014 following the death of Luke Batty and decades of silent suffering, so grotesquely inadequate as to be complicit with the perpetrators; narrates several successful community initiatives; and devotes an important chapter to these problems within the Indigenous community.
It needs to be emphasised that making an effort to understand the psychology of perpetrators is in no way an excuse for violence. Understanding, and making excuses, are not the same thing. We can acquire a deeper understanding of domestic abuse and at the same time insist upon a zero tolerance of any abuse. No matter the circumstances, there is no excuse whatsoever for any abuse, not ever. Jess explains in some detail different ‘types’ of perpetrator, without assuming that any classification is clear-cut, and how abuse typically escalates and intensifies over time until it can result in murder. Domestic abuse is not just physical, but also includes a range of psychological and controlling strategies. Abuse is any behaviour by another person, typically an intimate partner, that deprives the victim of personal autonomy, and that has any deleterious psychological or physical effect upon them. Jess also discusses the effects that domestic abuse has on children, both as witnesses and as victims, victims of both the perpetrators and the legal system.
Public understanding of domestic abuse is still not anywhere near the level that it ought to be, including amongst many of those directly involved with or affected by it. Governments have still not prioritised permanent funding for adequate workers and resources, but have on the contrary continued to reduce urgently needed long-term funding, including for public housing. As always in Australia, the chronic lack of co-ordination between states and the commonwealth is an additional problem here. Many areas across the country have no refuge. Australia should have an immediately available bed in a designated refuge for every woman and child who needs it, when and where they need it, where they can stay for as long as they need to until they are able to re-establish their lives safe from the perpetrators. They should be easily eligible for disability or similar support for themselves and their children for as long as they need it without being persecuted by Centrelink, and they should all be eligible for free legal aid. Compared with the scale of the need, Australia’s response is appallingly, unconscionably and dangerously inadequate.
It is equally clear that the police, lawyers and the courts are nothing less than Byzantine (or Bleak House-like) in their complexity, lack of transparency, incompetence (including so-called experts, who aren’t), and institutionalised prejudice in favour of perpetrators and against the victims. This extends to existing law and procedures. It is one thing for a defence barrister to ensure that his or her client receives a fair hearing, but it is quite another to assume that he is innocent or that his abuse is insignificant and to seek to discredit the testimony of victims in order to allow the perpetrator the liberty to continue to abuse and possibly murder. The conduct of the legal profession in many of these cases is professionally and morally indefensible, and tantamount to being an extension of the behaviour of the perpetrator.
Obviously, neither Luke Batty’s death and Rosie Batty’s advocacy nor the recent murder-suicide of Hannah Clarke’s family nor a royal commission nor the shocking statistics nor all of the available data and research have yet motivated governments to act to prevent preventable deaths and harm, often life-long, of Australian women and children on anything like the scale that government has responded to the CODIV-19 pandemic, or has legislated for itself excessive prerogatives against the people in the name of fighting terrorism and “keeping Australians safe”. If millions of Australians are victims of domestic abuse, and are not being kept safe by anybody, then what is the point of “keeping us safe” from anything else? Terrorist bomb or rampage, or a perpetrator of domestic abuse – what’s the difference? The bottom line here is that women’s and children’s lives in Australia are treated as being disposable, they have no recognised inherent value. If one woman a week on average is killed by her partner, if this has been continuing unabated for years, and if not enough has been done to stop it (as well as stopping all of the abuse that does not result in deaths), then obviously, this problem is not important enough for government to do what needs doing. Not only does government attach no value to women and children’s lives, but perpetrators obviously also have no perception that the lives that they are destroying have any innate value, either. Their own lives usually matter to them, but others’ don’t. There is no convincing justification for such inequality.
No man has any ‘rights’ over his partner whatsoever. She is an equal human being with him and should be treated as such. Any freedom, autonomy or privilege he claims for himself should equally be hers. Any physical violence against or sexual abuse of women or children is a crime and should be punished as such, harshly enough to stop it, in a manner commensurate with the seriousness of it and the harm that it causes, and to teach men that they must respect the human rights of their fellows.
Without in any way wishing to attenuate my unconditional recommendation of this book, I would add the following comments. Domestic abuse is not an isolated problem. Australia is a comparatively violent society that tolerates and perpetrates violence in numerous areas on a daily scale, often state-sanctioned or perpetrated, not always physical but also psychological and material. If we wish to stop violence against any one group within our society, then we must learn to ‘see’ all of the violence that we are not seeing, and stop that too. We need to live within a society in which every human being without exception is treated with respect and dignity and equality, feels safe, where sufficient protections are in place to ensure this, and in which every life matters because it is a human life and not for any other reason. Australia is not such a society. The constant discrimination against, harassment, dehumanisation and impoverishment of welfare recipients is state-sanctioned non-physical violence identical to controlling behaviour in domestic abuse that also systematically blames the victims instead of confronting the social and economic reasons why anybody needs welfare in the first place. The sustained detention and abuse tolerated against refugees and asylum seekers is another instance of state-sanctioned violence, too often physical, which a majority of Australians approved. The refusal to understand the now 2.5 centuries of trauma and abuse of the Indigenous population by the white population, the effects of the white invasion on them, the still institutionalised racism against and murder of the First Peoples, the continuing unjust juvenile detention system and hundreds of deaths in custody and high suicide rates, the failure to ‘close the gap’, the tendency to blame them for their problems, are yet other examples of national violence. The continuing prejudice against the LGBTIQ community, racism now against Muslims, the entrenched gender inequality and discrimination, age discrimination, reactionary attempts to reverse other women’s rights, the endless financial corruption by the business community, and the enormous scale of trolling, online and workplace bullying are other examples of violence. Wherever possible, the victims are blamed, not the perpetrators or those with the power to help. It needs to be asked why our society is so violent in all of these ways, why so much of this is entrenched, institutionalised, and actively practised or tolerated by our political leadership, and why so many of us don’t even see it for what it is or care about the effects, often life-long and damaging, that this all has on its victims. If domestic abuse is to stop, then all of this also has to stop. Australia today replicates the violence that sent convicts and settlers here 2.5 centuries ago. We are just as inhumane, unequal and unjust as industrialising Britain was with its destruction of communities and endless new urban poverty, and as a legal system that would hang you for stealing bread because those from whom you stole it wouldn’t give you a job so you could afford to buy it.
The gig and neoliberal economy have stripped millions of Australians of secure full-time continuing employment, as far as possible in careers of their own choice, and a healthy income to costs of living balance, all of which should be our basic right, and subjected them to constant stress and anxiety about their ability to earn enough in any available job and to support themselves. The psychological effects of this on most of the Australian population are immeasurably greater than government and business wish to acknowledge, let alone change. Yet all of this is also a serious factor, not to be underestimated, in the pressures upon households and couples. The economic and psychological effects of this environment are violently destructive of the family, the same social unit that neoliberals claim they want to protect. Family and home, a reasonable quality of life and security are incompatible with our current economic environment (even before CODIV-19), and whatever the relationship between domestic abuse and employment, Australia urgently needs a fundamental overthrow of the gig and neoliberal economy and a new economic model that is fair and equitable, and which affords sufficient and appropriate opportunities for all, and which maintains the same quality of life for those excluded from suitable employment. Our current economy is fully deserving of Marx’ harshest invective, it is dehumanising, alienating, and violent. Our society is making most of us physically and mentally sick. Many aspects of these processes were analysed and exposed by post-war American and other (e.g. French) sociologists, but Australia has learned nothing from that.
The UN has defined a range of universal, inalienable human rights that should guarantee financial, physical, psychological and other well-being for everybody. Those are embedded in human rights protocols that this country has ratified – and then binned. They include specific rights of the woman and child, of Indigenous peoples, of refugees and asylum seekers, as well as a range of other rights that successive Australian governments have undermined or overturned, while refusing to legislate any enforceable protections such as a bill of rights, unlike virtually every other OECD country; the Australia people clearly NEED a bill of rights, because their governments are not protecting them in any commensurate way at all and no other institution or agency is sufficiently effective. If Australians knew what human rights actually are, why they are so important, what they could achieve, and demanded that they be consistently respected and protected by government, then that is another way in which women and children could also be better protected from domestic abuse – would already be. But we have thus far obstinately insisted on being different from the rest of the human race, against all logic, and remain clueless about human rights. Which is tantamount to saying that we are clueless about what it means to be a human person.
These are issues that Jess couldn’t have discussed in her book, but it is no whit the less important for that, and hopefully all of these and other entrenched flaws in our society will soon be confronted and changed.