Recently I read this article;
The judges’ comments got me pretty riled and I did my usual trick of a shouty, sweary, knee jerk reaction directed at a computer screen (I’m good at shouting at screens, especially the sweary bit). Often, my shouty, sweary knee jerk reactions lead to a bit of reflection, and then I have to acknowledge that I’d not read something thoroughly enough, or given it enough thought or consideration: “Sorry about my utter indignation and contempt, I missed the word “not” in that comment” etc.
But, I’ve had a few days now, I’ve looked at what the judge said again and again….and I don’t think I owe anyone an apology this time. In fact, maybe I should have sworn a bit more and shouted a bit louder.
There’s a lot going on in those judges’ comments that are awful; that he chooses to use the same word “tragedy” to describe both the perpetrator’s and the victim’s experience, that he frames the perpetrator's “tragedy” ahead of the victims. Then there’s the putting the whole thing down to alcohol. It’s all pretty grim reading. But the bit that really riled me was just two words; “uncontrollable temper”.
Domestic violence is not uncontrollable, ever. When a pattern of violence and abuse is consistently sustained against one particular person (most often in one particular place, and often in the same context), then that is, by its very nature incredibly well controlled. It is in fact, masterfully controlled; it’s the exact opposite of this notion of “just snapped” or “uncontrollable temper”.
If someone genuinely had an uncontrollable temper, then it would be out of control in all kinds of places, against all kinds of people, in all manner of different contexts: These assaults (or however else it may manifest) would be against a range of people; men and women, strangers and known, all over the place; the supermarket, the pub, work, the school run, in the street. If it’s genuinely uncontrollable then surely you can’t control when, where and against whom this uncontrolled temper is exacted.
And as long as we continue to paint domestic violence as a result of an “uncontrollable temper” we’re playing right into the perpetrators hands, because once we’ve allowed them to say that that their violence couldn’t be helped because it was uncontrollable, then we stop looking to the perpetrator to explain his behaviour…and where (more importantly who) do we look to next for an explanation? The wrong person.
Domestic violence happens because a man makes a choice; he makes the choice to be violent, and then exacts that violence in an incredibly controlled way. If there is such a thing as an “uncontrollable temper” (which I personally very much doubt) then the perpetrators of domestic violence are not those who have one.Download this post as PDF? Click here