Mon | Jan 22, 2018

As a man: Take pressing charges out of the hands of women

Published:Sunday | July 3, 2016 | 12:00 AMMelville Cooke

We need a relationship abuse hotline. Or, if there is one, we need to publicise it at the same level we do Crime Stop. However, there would be no financial reward for those whom we encourage to 'not hide it, but tell it'.

The murder-suicide is a recurrent double death which the police will never be able to do anything about. They can try to get to the root of gang violence, as there are patterns and clues and plots. And if it were not for the criminals' propensity to slaughter the relatives of their targets who are in the same business, I would be quite fine in the police allowing gang members to go at it (shooting and chopping each other.)

Often, the first time police know about conflict between a couple is when it has escalated into bodies strapped down on a stretcher - when the double deed is done. At that point though, there will always be some neighbour who tells a news outlet that the couple had been fighting for a long time.

Sometimes the abuse does get to the authorities before the bloody end. But how many times have we heard about a beaten woman telling the judge that she is not going to press charges? It is a recurrent tale.

That woman may have what, to her, seems like a good reason to not have the full weight of the law come down on her loved one. It may be the case that if he is put in jail, the children will suffer because his income will be missing from the household's coffers. It may be that she really believes that she provoked her man to wrath, and since it is her fault and she knows what went wrong, she can control the situation. She is, of course, wrong.




The neighbours who hear thumping and wailing and bottle breaking in the night may believe - with reason - that 'cockroach no business inna fowl fight', and when the battling lovers make up, then the person who tried to intervene will become the villain.

An abuse hotline would sort all that out.

And while I have written about murder-suicide as if it is a strictly male-inflicted assault upon the fabric of life, let us not delude ourselves that abuse is a male-to-female one-way street. It may not publicly get to the stage of a woman killing her man then herself, but the women can put it on men too. That is a cause for serious concern, not laughter.

We have an addiction-alert hotline, Crime Stop, many a prayer hotline and more call-in radio programmes than beans in a large can. A 24-hour line dedicated to relationship abuse is a worthy addition. Those monitoring it - who do not have to be police - can track patterns, raise red flags and make face-to-face intervention. Plus, they may just be able to get the abused partner to take action themselves.

For those abused persons who go to the brink of taking decisive legal action and pulling back, there should be no leeway to ask the judge to toss out the case. They do not have the capacity to take decisive action themselves - they need to be saved from themselves.