Don’t blame the victim for society’s failures

2 Apr

New legislation introduced in Victoria makes not reporting child sexual abuse a criminal offence, however, some victim support groups fear women in a domestic violence situation whose children are being sexually abused by the violent partner may be charged and imprisoned if they do not report that abuse.

At first blush the legislation appears to apply primarily to organisations, however support groups are concerned criminal charges could be laid against individuals within the family who have knowledge of the abuse and do not report it.

News Limited journalist Joe Hildebrande today added his opinion to the discussion: “Frankly to say that you’re going to not report a case of child abuse or child sex abuse by your partner because you are scared for your own safety, I’m sorry it’s not an excuse,” he said.

In my own family, my mother took no steps to protect me from sexual abuse by her husband for over five years. She was also violently abused, and the situation was at times so dire we both feared for our lives. I’m fairly certain that my mother’s fear was not just that she would be harmed if she reported her husband to the police, but that he would seriously damage or kill our whole family.

For many years I was unable to understand why my mother did nothing to protect me, and after having my own children, I found it even more difficult to understand. I also understand the state of mind of a woman who is subjected to ongoing physical, psychological, emotional and sexual abuse by her partner, and that one of the consequences of this is an inability to take any positive action at all. Obviously, this state of mind is not easily understood by people who have never experienced it, hence the all too familiar question, why doesn’t she just leave?

Much as I still struggle with having been unprotected by my mother, I can image little worse than her being charged and imprisoned for that failure.  Neither do I regard her fear for her safety, and mine, as an “excuse” for her lack of action.

I am very, very weary of the moral judgements made against women who live with violent partners. The main reason women do not just leave such situations is that there is nowhere safe for them to go, and apprehended violence orders are not worth the paper they are written on. Unless society is willing to provide many, many more safe houses for women and children, and far more support in terms of rehousing, finance and protection, women and children will not “just leave” and cannot “just leave.”

What there is no excuse for is domestic violence and the sexual abuse of children by perpetrators. Victims cannot prevent these crimes. Society can have a far more powerful impact, if there is the political will. Minister for Women, Tony Abbott, has so far had nothing to say on the topic of domestic violence, which is to my mind the most pressingly urgent matter in women’s and children’s affairs.  Some leading feminists are, unfortunately, focused largely on the lack of female CEOs and each to their own, however, when we consider that after some four decades of feminism the domestic violence statistics have not improved one iota, I have to wonder exactly what are women in positions of power and influence actually doing about this?

What I do know is that to blame and punish women such as my mother for not protecting children such as myself is to my mind an admission of defeat, and a victory for every perpetrator. A woman who is already suffering horribly, who is aware that her child or children are suffering horribly and is too afraid for their safety or lives to speak out, is not the problem here. The perpetrator is the problem here, and the society that by its despicable lack of adequate action allows these horrors to continue.


43 Responses to “Don’t blame the victim for society’s failures”

  1. Nick (@nick__nobody) April 2, 2014 at 10:03 pm #

    Thank you Jennifer, I really appreciate and benefit from the time and personal energy you put into thinking and writing about important issues. You remain a voice of reason and experience. I wish you were Minister for Women.


    • Jennifer Wilson April 3, 2014 at 7:53 am #

      Thank you. I’d apply for the job if it didn’t require me to be a politician first.


      • Maria April 4, 2014 at 8:02 pm #

        Jennifer, I’m gonna say it again…BRILLIANT!…I also deeply appreciate the energy, both mental & emotional that you put into this & give to us. Your knowledge, insights, (& sadly personal experience), astuteness & ability to articulate on the ugly problem of family violence & child abuse, in a way that is extremely rare, profound, thorough & accessible, is just priceless. You have that ability to shed so much light on dark, & desperately misunderstood & neglected ‘places’ that many are too frightened to even think about. You’d be a fabulous high-profile national spokesperson on these issues. I believe that Protection, is the No.1, need to keep vulnerable women & children safe. Aggressive & violent males as a rule, only back off when other tougher males do what it takes to make them back off & fuck off. This I know. Body-Guards, big chunky body-guards, (&/or smaller ones trained in martial arts) with a healthy & alert protective instinct for vulnerable women & children would be a practical way to provide protection. A sort of a peace-keeping army. I’m sure their presence in the ranks ready to jump in to action to PREVENT any attacks on the physically weaker, would act as powerful deterrent to many cowardly perpertrators. Would be a good start to the journey of a new safe life for victims. Sure would have prevented a lot of physical assaults & rapes of me & my sisters as children. Victims need to know that protection is available to them & they need to be able to access it easily. The focus needs to be on stopping the criminal assaulters. (The word perpertrators just doesn’t do justice to the depth of violence & damage these mainly males & to a much lesser degree, females commit.) I don’t think White Ribbon or AVO’s or blah, blah, blah is really cutting it.
        Dr. Jennifer Lewis – Ted Talk on Family Violence & Child Abuse

        Minister for Family Violence & Child Abuse..I wish…


      • Maria April 10, 2014 at 9:19 am #

        Jennifer, I’d be v. interested to know what you would consider to be “adequate action” by our society for it to progress on this issue.


    • Di Pearton April 3, 2014 at 7:55 am #



  2. Gina April 2, 2014 at 11:21 pm #

    I agree that the perpetrator is the problem. A woman fears not just her own life, she fears the life of her own children more.

    I agree wholeheartedly that if an adult is made aware of the sexual abuse of a child, that they should remove the child from the situation and report the perpetrator immediately. This works well only if the adult hasn’t been the subject of physical, mental and emotional abuse by the perpetrator.

    Women and children need support, a place of refuge, a safe place to be in before and after the perpetrator has been dealt with.

    In many instances, society needs to stop pointing fingers at women and pointing it more towards the perpetrator and have them dealt with by the full strength of the law.


    • Jennifer Wilson April 3, 2014 at 7:53 am #

      Yes, exactly


    • Di Pearton April 3, 2014 at 8:12 am #

      I have been close to a number of women leaving violent partners. These women have taken years to bring their partners to where it was possible, still frightening, but possible, years! And these were women with strong family/friends support and economically secure. I cannot imagine the bravery and fear of those that leave. As Rosie kept saying (when fucking Joe gave her a chance) let’s talk about the perpetrator.

      Australian society needs to look into the role of the father overall. We always blame the woman, and as taxpayers we support the single mother, but only a widow is a single mother, and we need to look at fathers taking an equal role, socially and financially. Maybe if we build up fatherhood, like we do (at least in the margarine ads) motherhood, men will feel that those children are his, not his wife’s, and act more like a loving parent??
      And if you’re not up to it, mate, wear a condom.


      • zerograv1 April 7, 2014 at 7:13 am #

        Very judgemental of you Di, also apparently you havent been watching, always blame the woman? Which particular bucket of sand have you had your head buried in for the last couple of decades? I think you will find the vast majority will identify that men are usually blamed in these situations.. In case you didnt notice the aggressive and sustained attack on the patriarchy over the last 3 or so decades and so beloved of your lot seems to have taken achieved its goal of driving men away from relationships. Are you asking men to stay in exactly the same situation you claim women shouldnt have to put up with? Men walk away, abandon their families, leave the house, cop the bad father tag but also have nowhere to go as realms of 40+ Australian men will testify. Time to even up your pink eyed view I think. Its only very few femnists that will acknowledge that equality will only succeed if it encompassess all. Im not going to go into who causes what,there are arguments on both sides, Ultimately people are responsible for themselves, and although you are entitled to push your rather quaint perception may I suggest you embrace a lot more research before commenting further?


    • zerograv1 April 7, 2014 at 7:04 am #

      Australia struggles to maintain law and order in many areas including this one. A lack of votes in running on the issue as a politician causes it to largely be neglected by the mainstream media for instance and I have yet to see a major political campaign feature it. Many other legal (and moral) transgressions remain unpoliced in our liberal democracy, the market rules and the “police state” doesnt,.. so its money speaks and too bad if you havent got any. Sorry to seemingly trivialise the issue but its a practical reality borne out by the evidence it seems. So what to do about it? Reporting it sometimes works, especially in less serious cases where a domestically escalated situation may be calmed by a simple visit from police (if you can get them to come), serious cases IMHO require a public awareness campaign not centered around Domestic Violence is a crime but encouraging people to run like hell. IT argues very well for backup plans and alternatives should things not work out. I have given accomodation protection to a woman and her children leaving a potentially dangerous situation (which thankfully was resolved peacefully) but not everyone can practically do that due to accomodation, families and other needs. As a community our social mores encourage aggressive sportsmen, a backlash towards beefcake men, the rise of rap as a role model especially gansta rap and equally loathsome stereotypes in female “empowered” agro jerks like body builders and kick boxers (liberation? really?) who only add fuel to the fire IMHO. Keep calm and get clued up might be a good slogan


  3. paul walter April 3, 2014 at 3:25 am #

    The real problem is that society is not looking to build on the social infrastructure created over the last couple of generations- the laws, counselling, training toward nuanced approaches, education campaigns and so on.

    Rather these things are seen as unnecessary by the mindset currently controlling politics and the helping hand has been thrown to the wind, to pay for middle class tax cuts, military spending, etc.


    • Jennifer Wilson April 3, 2014 at 7:54 am #

      Yes, things will become even worse for those trapped in violent domestic situations, as Abbott withdraws more and more funding from organisations that offer support.


      • paul walter April 4, 2014 at 6:19 pm #

        Hildebrand, Abbott and their ilk live in a 1950’s “Father Knows Best” fantasy world that has been shattered in more recent times by revelations of evidence of its failed confrontation with change and reality.. hard luck lads, that reality does not accord with your fantasy, as a couple of people here terrorised by the realities of so called “family life” have graphically illustrated in resolutely telling their own stories.

        But don’t be embarrassed and always try to cover things up, just own up that things aren’t right and the right things need to get to fixed right, in the right way.

        Abbott/Hildebrand are as much in denial as some of the women, worse when you think about it, because no one twice their size has shoved a fist under their faces and told them they’d get walloped if they challenged appearances.

        They are shit arsed kids, well-presented, but what’s been furtively hidden is revealed in the shame inducing removal of soiled underwear. Its true they haven’t actually a clue, otherwise they would be straightening out some of the blokes.

        Yet, as Marilyn’s unadorned honest recall of her childhood reminds us, both men and women face moral choices and both sometimes fail.
        It may be that Hildebrand’s comments could be taken as concern and advice rather than censure, if we didn’t know him better and wish he’d STFU long enough to think before he speaks.


  4. Amanda Mack (@mandymcn) April 3, 2014 at 9:07 am #

    Great piece, Jennifer. Apart from the lack of support and resources for women living with violence, one of the biggest barriers to women reporting child abuse by their partners (or other members of the family) is denial. In order to psychologically survive the abuse victims frequently employ denial as a defence mechanism – a splitting off of their “knowing”. It’s not a voluntary thing. It’s an unconscious and natural defence. And many women in abusive relationships are already primed for denial having been abused as children themselves.

    In making those comments Joe Hildebrand has shown himself to be appallingly lacking in understanding of the dynamics of abuse. He needs to educate himself or STFU!


    • zerograv1 April 7, 2014 at 7:33 am #

      Agree completely, the wishful hope that some day the happy fantasy will materialise can dwell for many years if you only stick at it, and denial of what is actually happening is exacerbated by real needs like shelter, food for the kids, clothing etc and a lack of alternatives. Even the single mother government assisted option is going. So put up with it, or suffer the poverty and threat of homelessness that leaving can bring. Not a great choice is it? Love is also blind and will overlook faults others can see clearly….maybe they dismiss nagging doubts because they accuse themselves of worrying too much or being neurotic or some other form of self punishment, Its a common enough trait among people, women in particular, so its a complex range of reasons people stay in unhappy situations. For me personally, I would let the needs of children prevail above all and money itself would never hold me there, I can always get another job or relocate and have actually had to do that once (never again! I was a believer in the mantra that the police were useless but will visit a station without a second thought nowadays should anything threaten my hard won secure and happy life which took years and years to build in recovery.


  5. malbrown2 April 3, 2014 at 10:13 am #

    Thanks Jennifer.
    I appreciate your writing on this matter. It’s vital to have all sides of the debate and I only wish there were more safe places for people who live in violent relationships.


  6. megpie71 April 3, 2014 at 1:29 pm #

    I think at least part of what these laws need to have in them is some acceptance people need to put their own safety first. Getting a child or a woman out of an abusive household is right up there in terms of potential risk with getting someone away from a downed power line, getting someone out of a burning building or rescuing someone from flood waters. Now in the flood waters situation, the burning building situation or the downed power line situation, the primary thing people emphasise for potential rescuers is you can’t successfully get someone else out of danger by putting yourself into danger. You have to ensure your own safety first.

    So yes, require reporting of physically and sexually abusive people, just as we require reporting of downed power lines, house fires, and high river levels. Require this reporting from people who aren’t in the situation, who aren’t at risk from it, and whose physical safety isn’t being put at risk by reporting. If the decision to prosecute for failing to report is taken, it needs to consider the question: would reporting this problem have required the person to put themselves into a physically, emotionally or psychologically dangerous situation? If the answer to that question is “yes”, then prosecution shouldn’t be the answer.


    • Jennifer Wilson April 3, 2014 at 6:11 pm #

      Thanks for your thoughtful, common sense post. The situation is so complex and many people seem to need to simplify, to the cost of everyone involved.


  7. doug quixote April 3, 2014 at 1:33 pm #

    What the law says and the way it is enforced are often two different things. No police officer with an ounce of sense would dream of charging an abused mother with failure to report.

    On the contrary what it may achieve is to give the woman (usually a woman) a good legal excuse to report abuse – she can tell the world that she had to tell on her partner, even though some might see that as a betrayal, especially his family.

    If such a law had existed in 1970 (?) would your mother not have been more likely to report the abuse?

    It may just end up working a little better than the present regime.


    • Jennifer Wilson April 3, 2014 at 6:12 pm #

      No, because the repercussions would have been dreadful, unless we had been taken into hiding. My stepfather would have been released on bail, or, as he was a doctor, we would have been ignored.


      • doug quixote April 3, 2014 at 10:09 pm #

        I see. Or I think I do. The step-parent is perhaps the greatest disaster that can ever befall a youngster. It is usual for male animals to kill the offspring of a previous sire.

        We humans are supposed to be more civilised than that, but if a child dies, look very carefully at the step-parent. Abusing such a child is therefore hardly surprising in the context.

        There are no doubt wonderful exceptions . . .

        I don’t think you want my sympathy, but I offer it from the heart.

        (DQ sighs)


  8. samjandwich April 3, 2014 at 4:18 pm #

    Thank you for this Jennifer.

    And it pains me to say it, but I think your perspective on this is very valuable – and firstly let me say I’m so sorry that you and countless other people have been subjected to this sort of treatment, and that your having done so, and spoken about it, is seemingly the only way that those more fortunate amongst us are able to develop some window of understanding, not so much into what it’s like because I think that’s a bridge too far, but perhaps into the profound and long-lasting effects of abuse.

    I’m also a bit troubled by the fact that this legislation has been perceived in this way, perhaps because I’d like it to be obvious that it would be. This legislation may well have emanated from recommendations from the Victorian inquiry into child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, and as such there would have been a lot of impetus behind it, and a lot of pressure on the Victorian public service to bring it into law as quickly as possible. But despite this pressure it would have been through some pretty extensive consultations, as is the way with these things. Looking at the legislation itself though, it does seem to put the onus on the person who decides not to make a report on the grounds that they fear for the safety of themselves or others if they do so, to prove that their fears are “reasonable”.

    Leaving aside the question of whether fears can ever be described as “reasonable”, I think this situation is symptomatic of a continued lack of understanding of the issues involved – yes I agree a societal failure.

    Where the tragedy lies though, is in the enormous difficulty that people will always have in understanding the dynamics of abuse unless it touches their lives somehow. One example is Joe Hildebrande, but perhaps a more salient one is that of Justice Peter McClellan who is heading up the current Royal Commission – whom I recall saying about a year ago that he had only just come to terms with the full extent of the effects of abuse, and especially childhood abuse, on peoples’ lives, through his involvement with the Royal Commission, and that he realised that in retrospect the sentences he had handed down to offenders in the past had been too lenient.

    It is very easy, for privileged men especially, to go about life completely oblivious to this whole discourse. In fact I would go so far as to say that it takes a lot of effort, and maybe even a little serendipity, to develop some limited insight. I honestly don’t think just reading about it is enough. I guess I could say that for me the penny only really dropped when just over five years ago now I fell in love with someone who had suffered prolonged abuse at the hands of her father, and through having her put me through some very confronting and tortuous experiences I managed to develop an understanding that her behaviour, variously explained as borderline Personality Disorder or Complex PTSD, was in fact a perfectly natural, healthy reaction to her experiences.

    I also think it’s pretty difficult for people to understand why abusers do what they do just by appealing to notions of criminality, psychopathy, lack of impulse control etc. Rather I think it entails developing a level of emotional maturity, self-awareness, and enough humility to be able to notice what you have in common with the abusers – ie human frailty. Life would be so amazing without human frailty.

    But that was a long-winded way of coming back to the original point, that I’m really sorry, but I fear that the only way we are going to be able to engage properly as a society with the dynamics of abuse, is at the very least by hearing about its effects first-hand from the people who have experienced it, and that sounds like a very heavy price to pay in order to have a difference made.


    • Maria April 4, 2014 at 8:30 pm #

      Yes, samjandwich, I also remember reading about Justice Peter McClennan the bloke heading the Royal Commission into child abuse, saying he had only recently understood the full extent of the damage of CA. I can’t describe how depressing that was to learn. (for the victims). They needed Dr. Jennifer Lewis to head it. I also had convulsions when I kept reading, that psychiatrists were bought in because many of the professionals advising the Commission were disturbed by the nature of what they were hearing. I mean, really, what did they expect? I mean, really, who & how the fuck were these people chosen to advise on systemic changes to child abuse. BTW, I appreciate the depth & compassion & thoughtfulness you put into all your responses to this issue.


      • doug quixote April 5, 2014 at 4:21 pm #

        It is important for the Inquiry to be seen as coming from a neutral position – or as neutral as one can be about child abuse.

        If the Royal Commissioner started from the position that everyone accused of CA deserved immediate hanging, how would that affect the Commission’s credibility?


        • Maria April 6, 2014 at 9:19 pm #

          HQ, there is no such thing as a neutral position on child abuse & your closing comment which attempts to justify your stand, is just ludicrous.

          I’m weary of trying to enlighten anyone who is a mouthpiece for Patriarchal law, who does not acknowledge the complicity of their profession in the systemic epidemic of sexual & violent assaults of women & children, in Australia, committed mainly by males within the context of family violence & otherwise.

          I’ll add to that, any human rights activist in our society who remains silent & does not actively acknowledge these atrocities in their campaign.
          I do not include survivors of these assaults who advocate for human rights in this, as I empathize with & respect their choice to protect themselves from re-trauma.


          • zerograv1 April 7, 2014 at 8:01 am #

            Although I see you viewpoint, I think you missed the point, the law requires innocence until proven guilty, the right of a fair trial and aims to prevent the “hang them all” mentality that the aggrieved often shout. Better to let a criminal free than hang an innocent is the basic principle. it has nothing to do with patriarchy, matriarchy or the price of fish for that matter. Interesting how the tide turns though, the police are nowadays much more ready to intervene on the rare occasions a female is reported (by either sex) since they are sceptical of the often reported “its all mens fault” mentality based on their own observations from real life casework. Not sure completely why this is, but its definitely starting to occur more and more often and usually results in a AVO against the female perpetrator. The law does not discriminate on sex, People just think it does.or that it should.


            • Maria April 8, 2014 at 7:09 pm #

              What do you mean the law has nothing to do with Patriarchy. Of course it does, it was engineered by the Patriarchy. Most equal rights women have under the law were/are concessions given to them. Like most of the gains made for women.If feminists didn’t fight for better rights for women, rape would probably still be legal in marriage. The Patriarchy, has never just handed them out, out of a sense of compassion or empathy. I don’t deny that I hate the men who are committing these horrors of family violence in epidemic proportions. How dare you try to diminish the horrendous reality of women who are victims of family violence by suggesting that it’s just as bad for males. As if it’s women’s fault that men haven’t until recently found the courage to break the silence around the issue of males who are abused by women. You’ve actually got the feminist movement to thank for paving the way for you. To quote Jennifer’s closing sentence…”‘The perpertrator is the problem here, & the society that by it’s despicable lack of adequate action, allows these horrors to continue”. Most perpertrators are male & most victims are women & children. Most men collude in allowing these horrors to continue, by not taking the adequate action to stop them.


              • Maria April 8, 2014 at 7:26 pm #

                I meant to include that I have compassion & empathy for males of domestic violence.


                • helvityni April 8, 2014 at 8:25 pm #

                  How kind of you, Maria.


                  • Maria April 9, 2014 at 11:55 am #

                    Yes, if more of us gave a stuff, & took adequate action to put the needs of children & women who are vulnerable to the horrendous damage they endure at the hands of violent men, before the need to win an argument about all sorts of irrelevant nonsense, then things might just change for the better.


                  • Maria April 11, 2014 at 3:37 pm #

                    Nothing more to offer on this human rights issue, probably affecting many in your own community, than your smirking sarcasm,…. …how kind of you….


                • Maria April 9, 2014 at 11:39 am #

                  On reflection, saying I hate the men who are responsible for the misery & damage they cause to so many vulnerable victims, doesn’t adequately express my feelings, thoughts about them. Rather than hate them, I am pained by their violent behaviour for which they rarely take responsibility for & for which our society rarely holds them accountable for.


              • zerograv1 April 16, 2014 at 10:07 am #

                Fact check : More REPORTED cases are women, care to update your knowledge? 2 Studies, wildly at odds but still the conclusion is pretty obvious….or don’t you support equality?


                • hudsongodfrey April 16, 2014 at 11:19 am #

                  Look, maybe you’ve just encountered these sorts of statistics online for the first time, possibly because you were directed there from somewhere else. I was looking at this and somewhat taken in a while back until I realised what a non-sequitur it truly was. The facts we’re faced with in cases of spousal abuse are that whereas men can fight back but probably don’t choose to in many cases women engaging in physical confrontations with their male partners almost always come of the losers to some significant degree.

                  Either way the eruption of violence and who started it is dwarfed as a consideration against the realisation that a relationship that gets to that point has already seriously broken down to a point where both people involved are urgently in dire need of support to deal with the situation. What we’re doing as a society to provide that support seems to me to be the matter to which our attention should be directed if we want to actually help with domestic trauma at all levels, not just put a bandaid on it every time we see fit to arbitrarily and self righteously judge our peers.


                  • paul walter April 16, 2014 at 1:49 pm #

                    A grain of salt?
                    Zero has thrown up a cheeky one..
                    Haven’t read the link because am in a hurry to get somewhere shortly, but I do know people sometimes fiddle with stats..fb has shown me how many different ways different people can spin things,

                    Personally I think it reprehensible, all these eight stone women beating up their sixteen stone lumps of boyfriends and husbands,


                    • zerograv1 April 29, 2014 at 1:05 pm #

                      Thats true, except you are forgetting the several allowed excuses that women used to justify all kinds of assaults brought before the courts, PMS, whatever….they used to get off lightly, nowdays they don’t. I also think you are forgetting that macho men you describe are a bit of a 70’s phenomenon, havent you noticed how many cries there are from women nowdays about “Where have all the real men gone”. She goes off to kick boxing, he goes to cooking class….not exactly the picture your describing…..and here’s me thinking it was only Liberal voters that suffer from denialism, I bet you think Australia is a wealthy first world country as well dont you? No poverty anywhere, we are all pretty comfortable right? Media reports steer away from the unspeakable/unvoteable but eventually the truth emerges after years in hiding, case in point look how long it has taken for the Royal Commission into institutional abuse to be taken seriously ….DECADES!….just because its hidden and never spoken about it doesnt mean it doesnt happen, men notoriously under report domestic violence against them for a number of reasons, unhelpfully the police tend to immediately conclude he’s guilty, not exactly helpful is it? Other barriers, male peer pressure – Man Up and all that crap, or shes just a woman, it cant have hurt much (and thereby implicitly approving of the violent act)….tell that to Bobbitt


  9. Marilyn April 3, 2014 at 6:21 pm #

    My parents hated each other, did not want to marry at all but she was 2.5 months pregnant after knowing him 3 months. She popped out 4 kids in 5 years and didn’t want any of us especially the second and third of us who had the gall to be born without dicks.

    She was battered, when I was 4 her parents offered her free housing away from the mongrel bastard but she refused and started battering us kids instead. She jumped on my toes and broke them all, broke my nose, broke my fingers, brutalised and demonised me and my sister and set us up for beatings by whining to him about our sins when he was pissed.

    She used to laugh when we were being bashed and when I told her about the sexual abuse over many years she said it was all my fault for leading him on .

    I wanted both of the mongrel scum charged and jailed so we could live with our nana, but the cop and head master and local priest all played golf with him and thought she was just a useless nobody junkie.

    She used to drive us around pilled off her brain on uppers and downers and he used to drive us around when he was drunk as a skunk.

    Today they would be charged and rightly so.


    • doug quixote April 3, 2014 at 10:13 pm #

      Sounds like they should have been euthanased.

      A pair of tabbotts if ever I heard of them.


      • paul walter April 6, 2014 at 5:42 pm #

        She comes from a hard school, hard bitten…wonder is, she survived at all. Onya Marilyn.


    • iODyne April 10, 2014 at 9:58 pm #

      Huge sympathy and respect dear M. have you figured out why she was like that? Did police ignore neighbour’s reporting this? I am sorry you and JW have all these reasons to be angry at everything. I had no parenting of any use and now get sick and sad if I see evidence of people praising their parents for help/mentoring etc. I wish I had had a parent.
      After reading David Marr’s essay on poor brilliant Mr Ellis 12 year battle with Pell and the Pope with it’s details of hundreds and hundreds of offences, and of the Salvation Army the same, it would seem to me that the secure fear-free nurtured childhood is the rarity.
      Money is no shield – we have just read the obits for Clarissa Dickson Wright whose abuse by a twisted Doctor father caused all her over-eating, over-spending and drinking neuroses that at least gave her 30 years more life than frail Edie Sedgwick the 60’s Pop Art muse in New York who was also abused by her rich rich father and killed herself at 23 when rehab for drink and drugs failed her. Child CARE is a fairly recent societal trend (definitely post WW2 anyhow) and is clearly still evolving.


  10. hudsongodfrey April 3, 2014 at 6:28 pm #

    Okay I basically agree that these laws shouldn’t be used to sweep up victims in a net we’re trying to design to ensnare the actual perpetrators, but if nets are the analogy we can look to then like fishermen we’d probably want to release the by catch. I just got done arguing that in the case of the racial discrimination act 18C we have a law that’s written imperfectly but so far has worked 100% to my satisfaction. So if the tools we have are only any good in the hands of people skilled enough to wield them properly the I hope we populate the courts with those people, because writing a law that sets the benefit of the doubt at continuing for example to allow peadophile priests to hide behind the confessional after all we’ve just been through on that front stretches the bounds of reason further than I want it to be.

    On the other hand the law’s often a clumsier and heavier handed instrument than seems appropriate to dealing with people’s domestic arrangements. I can see cases cropping up where some kid chucks a tanty and dobs dad in for something that gets blown out of all proportion by the likes of a Hetty Johnson and the next thing you know a family is torn apart that shouldn’t have been. Granted that example I just concocted sounds a bit extreme, but if you think so then the reason we don’t go that far is because we use what for want of a better word I just have to call common sense.

    So look examples where common sense ought to prevail can be imagined working in either direction. Write me a set of laws that don’t need bounds of reason and yet offer adequate protections and I’ll sign up to them, but until that time the part I agree with most in the piece is the conclusion that we’re going to need to rely on people’s experience to make the appropriate judgement calls.


  11. KB April 5, 2014 at 8:44 am #

    Thanks again for sharing your story Jennifer. As you say 40+ years of feminism and still no improvement in our approach to or impact on this issue as a society. Not only are we not improving things however, it appears of recent times we have an ever growing propensity to blame those unable to prevent violence and abuse, rather than those who perpetrate it. The family members for not being vigilant enough, the services for not being responsive enough, the worker for not doing enough, and at its lowest ebb, the victim for not being ‘brave’ enough. All this and still the gaze yet to turn to the responsibility of those who perpetrate such atrocities. Whilst we must all continue to always do everything we can in all corners to protect those most vulnerable, and especially children, our inability as a society to focus our attention on the perpetration of male violence and its link with the ongoing construction of masculinity remains one of our greatest failures.


  12. Marilyn Murphy September 5, 2014 at 6:51 pm #

    Thankyou for your comments Maria, you know exactly where it is at.


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