Musings and Snippets from a recently retired JP. I served for 31 years, mostly in west London. I was Chairman of my Bench for some years, and a member of the National Bench Chairmen's Forum All cases are based on real ones, but anonymised and composited. All opinions are those of one or more individuals. JPs swear to enforce the law of the land, whether or not they approve of it. Nothing on here constitutes legal advice.
Saturday, December 03, 2005
Home Sweet Home
I have intended for some time to say something about domestic violence cases, but it is a big topic and I have put off tackling it. There are domestic violence cases on the court list more or less every day, and this year we have heard evidence of the most appalling and sustained battery of women by their violent partners and husbands. A typical kind of case is a woman who marries or welcomes in a man while knowing that he has a conviction for a vicious attack on his former partner. Once they have tied the knot he begins assaulting his new wife, usually after having had a drink – and by a drink I am talking about up to six litres of nine per cent cider. Head butting, fists, feet, biting, spitting, nothing gets left out of his attacks, even as she lies in bed, too terrified even to protest. Attacks are often witnessed by her children. After several admissions to hospital she finally agrees to accept help, and lover-boy is finally charged.
In another typical case a man has a similar history of battering his wife, putting her in hospital several times, and has repeatedly been arrested and charged. Every time the victim withdraws her evidence, and despite the CPS applying its robust Domestic Violence policy the case is going nowhere. While we deal with the case the victim sits, pale and wan, in the gallery to support the ‘lover’ who has treated her like a punchbag, night after night. It is quite usual for the victim to come and see how her man gets on with his application for bail.
I am hoping to receive training on Domestic Violence some time next year, and I am eager to improve my understanding of the issues. But the question that keeps going through my mind is :- “What’s the matter with these women? Why do they keep coming back for more? Is it sexual psychology? Is it fear of loneliness, or poverty? Is it low self-esteem?”
I don’t know the answers. At this stage I am just formulating the questions. But we will have to look for a better way of protecting these women that hitherto.
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