Insidious violence

Insidious violence

[content warning — abuse and violence against women]

Justice is blind to crimes it refuses to see. 

Let that sink in for a moment. It’s more profound than it sounds. 

We all know justice can’t do very much about crimes nobody sees, unless someone somewhere pieces the evidence together and devotes years of work to hunt, catch, prosecute and convict the guilty. 

For instance, coercive control in intimate relationships, which almost always precedes physical violence, is not recognized as a crime in Canada. 

At the best of time, justice for victims of intimate partner violence is elusive. 

Coercive control and intimate partner abuse is justice at its worst. Not just because the crime itself is hard to see, but because the criminal law system is designed to ensure the accused have every opportunity to go free whereas the victims have to be 100% airtight with absolutely zero exceptions. 

And you wonder why we’re bitter. 

We are bitter because after being told we needed to speak up, to speak up and reach out for help, we found that when we did speak up nobody cared and when we did reach out the help wasn’t there.  

Oh sure, if you’re fleeing physical violence you may find a spot in a shelter. And yes, there are counsellors who’ll listen. None of that makes the violence stop. None of that makes victims fell safe. 

Unless you have absolutely watertight proof of a criminal offence, you are wasting your time trying to get justice. 

The men go free, and you’ve just spent years of your life, and all the money you didn’t have, fighting a futile battle. If you have no visible, bleeding bruises you can connect via 100% fail-proof DNA to the perpetrator, you are wasting everyone’s time. 

And guess what? Most of the violence men inflict on women leaves little to no blood. 

[This is the part where I make the obligatory disclaimer. I do not mean to suggest most men are violent. In fact most are not. But the overwhelming majority of people who are violent towards their intimate partner are men who victimize women. End of parenthesis.] 

If there is one lesson victims of man-on-woman violence and abuse know, it’s that nobody sees them. And no, it doesn’t help when they speak up. Nobody wants to hear those stories. Nobody. Not even when the violence directly affects children. 

Every now and then the justice system will see something. Like when the perpetrator has killed a woman and her children. Dead bodies are so much harder to ignore than live victims. 

Unless the victims are dead from suicide, which is too often seen as the only way out of endless cycles of abuse and violence. Then we’re blind again.

Emotional and psychological abuse are, by far, the most hateful kind of violence because they are the easiest to hide as they never leave injuries anyone can see. Not even the victims

Emotional and psychological abuse leave deep cuts and wounds that can be seen in a victim’s self-destructive behaviour. But they require people to care enough to look for those signs. And victims with enough strength left in them somehow to grab what they can and leave, knowing full well they are risking everything and their odds of surviving are minimal given that there won’t be anyone to help. 

Do you understand now why so many “choose” instead to stay with their abuser and do whatever they can to ignore the pain? 

To be hurt and not know you’re hurting doesn’t make the damage disappear. But it does make it nearly impossible to diagnose. What goes undiagnosed cannot be treated. It can barely heal. 

Victims are left on their own, without help or justice or healing. Somehow, they must go on and find their own way towards the light.