The forgotten victim of a domestic dispute.

There was an incident in Ireland last week where a police officer was called to a house to attend a domestic violence incident. When he entered the house with the woman who had made the emergency call, they were both shot by the perpetrator, who was the woman’s partner. The police officer, Tony Golden, died, and the woman, Siobhan Phillips, is critically ill in hospital.

When Siobhan was shot by her partner, she was already black and blue from sustained abuse and attacks.

This case has become about the death of a police officer and the salacious details of the killer’s IRA past. The perpetrator was facing charges of paramilitary activities and was out on bail at the time of the incident, the Guardian ran the story with the headline: “ State funeral held for Irish garda shot dead by republican dissident”. The angle is all wrong here. It’s misleading and you’re capitalising on buzzwords and ignoring the fact that this was a murder committed by a man who was violent and angry and basically got away with it for his whole life until he nearly beat his partner to death, shot her and killed a man. 

It’s horrific, and so, so sad for the policeman’s family, but at the heart of this is domestic violence. I read an excellent comment earlier from a woman in another forum about how the police in Ireland (and lots of places) are not trained how to respond to domestic violence, and in this case it resulted in the death of an innocent man and near-death of an innocent woman.

The word “domestic” waters it down, makes it seem like it’s a man giving a woman a slap or shouting a bit too loudly every now and again, and gives the impression that a peacemaker can just walk in and help sort things out. It also makes it seem like it’s only the problem of the people in the household. It isn’t. It’s my problem and your problem, not only because we should care for other humans who are in trouble but also because it might be us one day or it was us at some time in the past.

1 in 5 women in Ireland who have been in a relationship have been abused by a current or former partner.

In 2014, there were 16,464 incidents of domestic violence against women disclosed during 13,655 contacts with Women’s Aid Direct Services.

There were 10,653 incidents of emotional abuse, 2,470 incidents of physical abuse and 1,746 incidents of financial abuse disclosed.

In the same year, 595 incidents of sexual abuse were disclosed to the Women’s Aid helpline, including 176 rapes. 

I’m not for one second saying that the police officer shouldn’t be mourned or that we shouldn’t be outraged, but this is about domestic violence, not terrorism or cop-killing. RIP Tony Golden and I pray for the recovery of Siobhan Phillips. 

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A Tale of Trams and Mickies

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In all my dreams of swashbuckling overseas adventures, I never imagined a day when I’d have to invoke my newly acquired language skills to describe a hideously uncomfortable close encounter with a public masturbator on a tram. And that’s a sentence that I never thought I’d write. What a lovely day of firsts.

The tone of this post is an odd one for me to balance well. The point I want to make is threefold:
1) Somebody exposing their genitalia to you and masturbating on public transport is not ok. It is illegal and disgusting and fucked up.
2) This, however, does not mean that there are not parts of this story that were extremely funny and full of suppressed giggles because taking your mickey out and having a tug on a tram is also so preposterous that it just creates an air of surreal comedy.
3) No assault of any kind is every too small to be reported. People cannot get away with shit like that. Even if it’s only you shouting it at the universe and your pals after 5 wines, then shout away. But preferably tell a cop or a responsible adult.

I  think that people who know me, know me as a strong woman, possibly falling slightly on the side of overbearing asshole when I think i’m correct and also as being outspoken on rights issues. I would be the first person (in my imagination) to tear someone to shreds for attempting to make me feel small or scared, and I imagine a lot of others would think that of me too, so I wanted to write this as some very small attempt to show that assault, no matter how minor, is a mind-twisting event. When people question why women don’t shout or fight or create a scene when something happens, even in a very public place, it’s because it’s shocking to the core. Your mind doesn’t normalize it quickly, sometimes not at all, and the first port of call is often self-protection. If I, a loud Leo of a woman, got silenced, freaked out and very fucking grossed out from having a mickey swirled in my face on public transport, imagine how hard it is to speak out in worse circumstances?
I won’t go into the details too much, because they are unnecessary and not of interest to anyone except the police, but I was coming home on a weeknight recently at around 7.30 in the evening and was plopped on my little tram seat in a half empty carriage glued to my phone. Note I say half empty, there were other people around, but sitting up ahead of me. As I was carefully studying a newly changed profile picture or some equally momentous content update, I noticed a movement to my right. I thought it was the man trying to steady himself. I am truly my mother’s daughter; we had a spate of dirty phone calls to the house one year and we realised that they kept happening because my mother thought the shallow breathing and groans were signs of distress and kept asking the fella on the other end of the phone if he needed some help.
Anyway, I glanced to my right to check on the poor lad who was having difficulty with his balance and as quick as a flash, (pun entirely intended), noticed that he was leaning comfortably, dick in hand, hips angled toward me. My first reaction was to squint to make sure it was, in fact, a mickey. I am not sure what else on God’s green earth it could have been but I wasn’t thinking straight. I then stood up like someone had lit a bonfire under me, walked firmly away from him and waited at the doors as he stared me down and continued having the time of his life. How depressing, having a wank on a tram.
That night I walked home, told a pal about it, slept, woke up the next day and increasingly felt like I should tell someone even though part of me felt stupid and childish and like it would be badly received as an overreaction. I grew up with the sense that a flasher or a public masturbator was more of a nuisance, an attention seeker and you’d do well to ignore them because it’s not “real” assault.
But what do these fuckers do when the kick wears off that? When they’ve relieved themselves into the faces of 100 women and girls who have been silenced and forced to move away while they continue to hold power? Do they get bolder and braver and move on to other things? Are they abusers? Would they do that in front of a child?
It sounds apologetic and awful to admit it, but when I finally got the courage up to call the Amsterdam Transport Authority the next day and make a report, I had a list of reasons ready about why I was calling to report it: “I’m concerned he might go on to bigger offenses, I’m afraid he might do it to children.” But the truth is, it was enough for him to do that to me, to take away my feeling of safety and autonomy. And thankfully, the Transport Authority agreed with me and could not have been more helpful.
The most difficult thing about explaining the incident to a non-native English speaker is that I couldn’t resort to any euphemisms or slang words. It was wall-to-wall penis and other straightforwardness. The customer service person and I had a lovely awkward giggle about our agreed terminology before she talked me through the whole incident, reassured me they were fully supportive and were very concerned about similar reported incidents and urged me to contact the police. This also felt difficult at first, but it was a 20-minute interview with a very lovely policeman who then had his female colleague call me first thing the next morning to assure me that they were making sure that they were finding out everything they could about the incident and the man involved.
And even if nothing comes of the investigations? What happened as a reaction is enough for me. Having people listen and be kind and take note and not question why you didn’t just laugh it off and move on is a good feeling after I’d been made to feel so unsteady on my feet for a bit. If it was your sister or daughter or Mum or friend, you’d want them to be able to say it out loud too. That man took advantage of a woman alone, and I’m sure has done it to many other women and girls and I did the only thing I could do with it, which was to put it out into the universe to make sure that it’s recorded somewhere, no matter how hidden away that record is.
If something makes you feel uncomfortable and gross and it’s also actually illegal, no matter how much people try and say it’s only a “minor” thing, follow your gut and report it. Speak up. Speak up for women who can’t. Talking about it lessens the stigma and turns it into a less acceptable behaviour, even if those talks are just with your pals or family or partner.
I’m back braving the tram again, albeit making sure that I sit in slightly busier compartments, and I might add “Learning the Dutch word for ‘mickey'” to my 2015 to-do-list, but I’m very much ok. I just wasn’t for a few hours, and when I reached out, even though it felt weird and tough and silly for what felt like a relatively small issue, there was a support network that I never knew was there, and that’s a very lovely thing to learn. #keepyourmickeyinyourpants

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11 Headlines That Perfectly Illustrate How Much The Daily Mail Hates Women. Haaates Them. Eww. Christ. Imagine Being A Woman. Ugh.

Every day I do something horrible, reprehensible, disgusting and demeaning. I check the Daily Mail website. I tell myself that it’s because they have faster updates on news than any other website, even though their take on said news is usually preposterously skewed, but there are many sad, shitty nights where I’ve sat and browsed the beautifully named “Femail” section of the site, which mainly consists of women vilely slagging off other women and CAPS LOCK HEADLINES ABOUT CELLULITE. I ain’t doing it anymore. No morbid fascination for stunningly vapid journalism will drag me there. The following 11 headlines will be my strength and my shield. The Daily Mail hates many people, but these are just some of the ways in which it has shown that it really fucking hates women.

1)

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The time they made a hilarious comparison between a sex offender and a dude from Anchorman. It’s really a stunning feat as a journalist to receive information that a man has committed a sexual offence and to have “Fuck me, that guy is the IMAGE of that fella from Anchorman!” as your first reaction and then actually turn it into your story angle.

2)

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The time they warned you about your tricksy periodses. Don’t worry though love, you’re just out of your fucking mind on PMS and nothing’s actually happening at all. That’s the good news.

3)

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The time they said that maybe your periodses weren’t so tricksy after all, and that you shouldn’t dare ask your boss for anything without consulting your “menstrual diary”. I love my menstrual diary. It’s made from the womb lining I shed every month and is decorated with pubic hair.

4)

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The time they completely changed their fucking mind again. Obviously this was written by a woman off her face on her period.

5)

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The time they announced that women are manipulative, bleeding liars.

6)

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The time they told you that in order to be admirably thin, you should wear a suit that makes you “clench your entire body while waiting for the pain to subside.”

7)

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The time that their “EXCLUSIVE” story revealed the shocking fact that fat people are capable of having a good ride despite their hideous fleshiness getting in the way.

8)

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The time that the headline was missing a word and yet still managed to be completely fucking condescending. Also, I love that they used a banana muffin as the control.

9) 

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BECAUSE YOU FUCKING BULLY US INTO MADNESS ON OCCASION.

10) 

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LOL.

11)

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The time that they said that big jobs were too much for our little fanny brains to cope with and that with great power comes a higher risk of dementia.

And with that, i’m out. I love the world and its womanliness too much to be contributing clicks to articles like this that just beget even worse pieces of shit.