Unless you have been living in a cave this week you have probably read something about Jordan Worth, who last week became the first woman in Britain to be convicted under the new ‘controlling or coercive behaviour in an intimate relationship’ law introduced in 2015. She was sentenced to seven and half years in custody for this and other offences against her boyfriend Alex Skeel and it has been the subject of much discussion on facebook and in the media. There have been many references to her ‘petite’ size, charity work and the fact that the victim ‘Alex Skeel’ himself has hydrocephalus, a condition which makes him especially vulnerable to head injuries. There is mention of his horrific injuries, I believe he had 118 when he left, and the many times his neighbours heard his cries for help and saw his black eyes. We have read about the fact that she scolded him with boiling water and did not allow him to sleep in the same bed as her. There is less mention though of the fact that he was denied contact with his own family for a long time and virtually nothing of the two children who were probably one of the main reasons he didn’t leave earlier. Now I ask you ‘SO WHAT?’
I have read lots of comments from people praising his bravery for firstly leaving Jordan and reporting these crimes to the police, then secondly, for waiving his anonymity in an attempt to raise the profile of domestic abuse and particularly the plight of male victims. I have read many comments, and even arguments, about whether men are treated fairly and how women only have to say they have been hit and police believe them.
I think throughout all of this many people are missing the point. NOBODY should be subjected to abuse, anywhere, but definitely not within their home. This is the one place that they should feel safe. NOBODY should live in fear of upsetting their partner, feeling cut off from those who may offer support and salvation. NO CHILDREN should grow up in an environment where they can’t sleep because they are worried about what is going on in the next room , or live in the constant tension that exists in a home where domestic abuse is going on. Although there are differences between male and female victims, to get caught up in the gender argument is, I believe, missing the most valuable lesson for the story. WHO IS RESPONSIBLE?
Now don’t get me wrong, Jordan, as the perpetrator of the violence and abuse, is completely responsible for the pain and emotional harm she subjected her boyfriend and children to, but who else? What about Alex himself? Is he to blame for staying? Unfortunately in our society we often do blame victims for their own abuse, asking why did they stay? Needing the excuses of his vulnerabilities to explain how a ‘petite’ women could inflict harm on a man. What about medical services who had seen him on previous occasions, and did not step in, I understand that support was offered but he denied any problem. His family then, why didn’t they step in? Would you allow a family member to suffer abuse without rescuing them? What about social services? Shouldn’t they have helped those poor children? Who else? The School? The Neighbours? The Police? What if the outcome hadn’t been as positive?
There were 454 Domestic Homicides recorded by the police in England and Wales between April 2013 and March 2016 (source Office for national statistics). This represents 31% of all homicides where the victim was aged 16 and over during this time period. Of these 70% (319) were female and 30% (135) male. These are surely shocking figures to anyone. Despite this we only talk about a small amount of these cases, the ones that stick out as different, but every one of them had family, friends, neighbours, and many had children.
So who cares? We all should! I believe that until we start breaking the silence and start talking about domestic abuse, things will not change. Responsibility sits with everyone to stop ignoring the signs, ask the questions, call the police, report concerns to social services but most of all to listen. Let’s be clear most victims don’t want to be rescued, they want to be heard and we need to start listening. We have come a long way in the last 20 years, but can you honestly say that you would call the police if you were worried about a neighbour, a friend or a family member, or would you think it’s not your place to get involved? Alex’s neighbours have been publicly thanked by his mother and praised for helping to save him, would you do the same? Change is everyone’s responsibility so we ask you to join our campaign to ‘end the public camouflage of domestic abuse’