Because of the normalisation of abuse and complacency surrounding violence against women, girls and children, I often tend to gloss over the asides that come through in reporting in the media, the afterthoughts, the “he had been convicted of attacking a previous girlfriend”, “he had been arrested on indecency charges”. It just forms part of the overall tumult of rhetoric that pervades when a high profile case is being reported.
But with the constant discourse AFTER murders or heinous abuse being about the history of these violent men, why isn’t the discourse taking place directly after their FIRST foray into abusive behaviour. When these men are not keeping under the radar (which many abusers do) and are in fact well known to the police, social services and child protection, why are they even being given the opportunity to escalate to the point where they abduct and kill children, murder their partners, rape and bury the bodies. These men are KNOWN. They are known for their violence. And yet…they are falling back through the cracks and it’s only after another life is destroyed that we are left wondering why. Clearly the reasons why are not straightforward-but given how much we know about these men prior to their final most brutal crimes, I wonder if some of those crimes at least are preventable.
When a woman is abused, attacked, raped, held hostage in her own home, when she turns up at A&E with a broken nose, jaw, lost teeth. it MUST be taken seriously. IT MUST BE REPORTED. IT MUST BE LOGGED and the different governmental departments MUST be more joined up in this regard. I’m confident privatization of different functions of local and central government will only make this worse.
When a man abuses children, or is in possession of indecent images, he should not be removed from the sex offenders register after 5 years. And he must NEVER be able to work with children again.
When a child is brave enough to tell an adult they’ve been hurt, abused, used, touched, approached, scared, attacked, raped. Those children sharing their worst nightmares MUST be BELIEVED. They must be supported by services that are in place – that do not have waiting lists. That have professionals working for them - who are not stretched to the point of breaking.
Soham murderer, Ian Huntley had been arrested on numerous occasions for allegations of rape and sex with underage girls-police knew him to be a serial sex offender . He was never convicted.
Mick Phillpot had previous form for abusing his ex-partner, he shot her with a crossbow and tried and nearly did murder her and her mother. He went on to be found guilty of the murder of his 5 children.
Mark Bridger, had previously admitted to threatening behaviour with intent and battery. He went on to be found guilty for the murder of April Jones
Time and time again, the men who murder are found to have a history of violent and abusive behaviour. It is not a given that those who commit those “lesser” crimes will go on to kill – and one has hope in rehabilitation. But it’s those instances where men are “let off” because there is not enough evidence to convict, where they escape conviction, those instances where a pattern of escalating behaviour is ignored that we could and should be doing far, far better-the current system is clearly inherently flawed.
If violence against women and girls weren’t treated as a fact of life, a given, an acceptable way of interacting – perhaps if it was given the gravitas it deserved and the sentencing to match we could allow fewer abusers to go unchecked and free to continue their tirade of terror.