Family violence is not a ‘coping mechanism’, it is not an unfortunate side-effect of low self-esteem, it is a conscious choice by one person to very slowly and very painfully destroy another (or several others) from the inside out.
You’ll have to forgive me for what I am about to do, and that is to quote Mark Latham.
Yes, I know it’s hard to stomach, but since media outlets seem determined to give this disgraced former politician a platform, then it’s up to the rest of us to correct his unfathomable drivel.
Speaking on radio 2MMM, who incidentally, claim to support White Ribbon, but I digress, Mr Latham claimed that “Blokes have lost self-esteem, they’ve lost their job, they’re welfare dependent, and they’ve got other troubles, drugs, alcohol, in their life. It’s that loss of self-esteem where I think they use the domestic violence as a coping mechanism to get over all the other crap they’ve got in their lives.”
I have no time for DV apologists.
I have no time for people who imply that stress could make me beat my child.
We all know that abusers come in all genders, and from every socioeconomic background, but Mark seems intent on perpetuating the stereotypes that so plague those living in poverty. There they are in his mind, down at the bottle-o on pension day ready to load up so they can go home and beat their spouse and kids.
But it’s not their fault is it? I mean, can you imagine how hard it must be to cope without privilege?
Well according to Mark it is hard enough to make you abuse your family to, you know, help you deal with things…or something.
Sounds like ‘richsplaining’ to me.
Normalising family violence as just another coping mechanism? Just what the abuser ordered!
These persistent myths also make it that much more difficult for people in more socially accepted positions to make public their experiences for fear that nobody will believe them, or that their reputations will be damaged beyond repair.
Words matter, and when it comes to family violence they can be the difference between life and death.
As part of his blinkered tirade of privileged entitlement, Mr Latham went on to complain that discussing actual statistics pertaining to the largely gendered nature of family violence is pushing men over the edge.
Now I don’t know about you, but I don’t know one single non-abusive man or woman who suddenly morphs into a family violence offender upon hearing uncomfortable facts.
Nor do I know any non-abusive parents or partners who become abusers when life gets a little tough.
I don’t dispute that incidences of abuse increase during difficult times, but that doesn’t mean that the perpetrators were not already abusive, and it doesn’t mean that abuse is a coping mechanism or a way to let off steam.
Abuse of your child, your partner, your ex, or anyone else is a choice, and far from being the result of poor self-esteem, research shows that it is a choice most often grounded in feelings of entitlement, as well as the objectification of the victim.
The abuser expects their whims to be of central importance at all times, they don’t see themselves as unworthy, rather as supremely worthy, but the low self-esteem act serves them well as a tool of manipulation.
This self-confessed Twitter troll attempts to position himself as a champion of men, all the while insulting every non-abusive male on the planet with his insinuation that men just can’t help but attack their families when under stress.
Now seriously, is this guy for real?
Of course I know all too well the crowd Mr Latham is trying to appeal to here.
It is all too easy these days to jump on the anti-feminist hate train and attract an angry following of disenfranchised people who feel put out by having to share. His unprovoked attack on former Australian of the Year Rosie Batty was a clear shout-out to his intended audience.
Mark Latham’s concerns are not for male victims of violence, they are clearly not for female victims either, and nor are they for the many children being mistreated, abused, and exposed to family violence in Australia every day.
The people Mr Latham has chosen to align himself with here are the perpetrators. They are the ones for whom he is making excuses. They are the ones for whom he eschews known causes of family violence in favour of the red-herrings on which he expects us to focus instead.
This is dangerous territory because the lives of real people depend on anti-violence programmes.
Known for his acts of public aggression, it is not surprising that Mr Latham is desperate to normalise such behaviours by passing them off as the natural result of stress.
But this seemingly mindless rant, which included a wistful look back at the ‘good old days’ where it was a-okay to be openly racist, sexist, or otherwise unconcerned with the feelings of the people around you, was more than that.
Author of such gems as ‘A Conga Line of Suckholes’, Mr Latham is an educated man who uses this gruff persona and purposefully ignorant one-liners to garner support from people who, like him, feel alienated in a world where might is no longer synonymous with right.
Gather enough support and you can change policy, take us back to the days when things were settled with fists, where nobody asked where the bruises came from, and nobody told.
Change enough policy and the world is your self-entitled oyster.
The question is, are we prepared to buy it?
How many among you are stressed? How about poor? I know I can tick both of those boxes. Anyone unemployed? Grieving? Moving house?
The list of life’s ups and downs is endless. Stress can hit anyone at any time, and for some of us it’s an ongoing issue.
Yet here we all are – not beating our kids.
Here we are not abusing our partners, our exes, or our parents.
That can only mean one thing; either every one of us is a freak of nature, or Mark Latham needs to rethink his attitude toward family violence.
I’ll leave it up to you to decide. (JB)
This article was first published on 2 February 2016 and is copied from here.