Monday, 8 January 2018

Instead of #MeToo on domestic abuse.. how about ...#MeLast.

There is a woman just now meeting a man. He has greeted her with a smile. He is wearing really nice clothes and has clean shoes on. He smells nice. He stood up to greet her when she came in and has pulled out her chair for her to sit. She has her back to the room. Of course. He has offered to buy her a drink. He is making her laugh. He is telling her lovely stories of his family and friends. He’s telling her funny stories from work. He’s quite handsome... in a way. Or, maybe, very handsome, in lots of ways. Cheeky. Clever. Spontaneous. Charming. Different. Something. Just something she hasn’t seen before and he’s making her feel good. Really good. Not like the man she was with before who cheated on her. Or dumped her quite hard. Or abused her. There’s another thing about this man though.

He’s your abusive ex. He’s my abusive ex. He’s somebody’s abusive ex. 

He might kill her.

We know too much about these men. Their very names make us shudder. We escaped with varying degrees of mental health and our bodies more or less intact. We have fixed both. More or less. We are strong again. We take deep breaths every day and look to the sky whether we believe in a higher power or we don’t. I don’t. We know the universe gifted us life somehow. Or we know other women did. I do. We are so very grateful. We laugh at the freedom. We never, ever, take it for granted.

We know that man is evil right though to his bones. And in his bones. And his bones are so filthy he will contaminate the earth when he is dead.

But how can we tell her?

Every, yes every, abused woman has this thought.... “He will do this to someone else! I can’t let that happen. Can I?” We wonder how we can stop him. We care for all those future women who will be called hideous names; undermined; called bad mothers; accused of infidelity; thrown against a wall; perhaps punched in the face. Raped. Degraded. Humiliated. Strangled. Beaten. Turned into a version of their former selves that they don’t recognise. Maybe dead. Too often dead. Twice a week at least.

Some of the things that happened to us... we know he will do to “her”. The next woman. Maybe worse things. Probably....worse things.

Very few women, who have been free of an abuser for a while, hate the “new woman”. We pity her. Not in a patronising way. Some of us worry deeply about her. We don’t know her. Or sometimes we do. We wish we could help her to know what is coming and get away from him fast.

So, ideally, what happens next in the scenario above is this. A woman walks into that bar. She apologises in advance to the woman sitting with him and asks her to move aside. She overturns the table to reach for this charming man. She grabs him by the collar, shrugs him upwards with just a finger and holds him high in the air above her head like a doll. She doesn't hurt him. This isn't about that. She lifts up her shirt as she spins him around above her head for kicks. She shouts to the entire bar.... “This man abused me for years. He made my life hell. See? Here is the scar where he cut me. Here is the melted flesh where he burned me with my hair straighteners. My children went hungry when this man cut off our maintenance. They went to school with holes in their shoes. See how beautiful his shoes are. Look at my hair. Here! Come closer. This chunk missing? This man ripped it out of my head with the skin attached. The droop of my eye here. Can you see it? This man bludgeoned me with an iron. This pain and anger behind my eyes? This man. This man here. His name is.....”

But no woman does this. We cannot tell other women. We are not superwomen either. We can’t confront our abusers. We can’t hold them over our heads like macabre abusive dolls. We can’t approach the other woman. She won’t listen. He might hurt us.  He might hurt us very badly. It might cause him to hurt her too. We know this and so we sigh at the thought of how powerless we are to stop her from falling.

Because she will not walk away if a previous woman he was with says what he did to her first.  She will not believe. She will not be able to listen. He is too strongly in her head already.

Who will she listen to then?

Government/the Police/legal recording sytems.  Those systems should protect women. They currently fail in this area. Women need an easily accessible website that any woman can use to internet search for the murdering, abusive men of this world. One that tells you he previously ripped a woman’s hair out. That he threw her out of a window. That he caused a woman to hang herself. One that names him with a picture and says all the things he did to all the women he did it to. A list of his crimes and convictions. We need early warning systems for women. We need someone who can legally do this to tell us. It is the duty of those in power to tell us before we are murdered because they don’t.

Theodore Johnson went to jail for 26 years last week. He has killed 3 of his former partners. He will be out in 13 years. Will he kill again? Will his next woman know he has killed before?

His last victim Angela Best did not know this. She had no way of knowing that before he throttled and beat her to death he had already thrown his first wife off a balcony to her death. Or that he murdered his next partner by strangling her. The two previous victims of Theodore Johnson were called Yvonne. Only the name Angela breaks his pattern. All 3 are women. All 3 are murdered. How many more women will he be able to murder? How many more women named Yvonne? Or Angela? Or will someone tell the next woman? What will her name be if women aren’t warned?

And more than that I wonder.... how do women who never told the police tell other women? How do women who did not take their man to prosecution tell other women? That is something radical feminists might ponder. Because he might not have murdered before ...... but he could indeed be working his way up to that. 

If government won’t sort this. How will we sort it?

The hashtag might not be #MeToo but #MeLast

JH x