An awakening to an ugly truth – domestic violence


 

Do you have this problem? Every time I write about on a subject I do not really know, I get into trouble; as I did recently in the things I wrote about violent crimes against women.  I have been following Saudi social policy for a couple of years – it is not hard to find examples that are so totally alien to western values that they shock us.  For one thing, Saudi Arabia is a country of men – the women have very little public presence or social rights.  Women vote in the west drive cars, they work outside the home, walk down streets without an escort, wear whatever outfit suits their fancy and many more things that Saudi women cannot do.

Not only are Saudi women forbidden by law to do the commonest things in public, if they violate the laws and social norms they will be punished; their husband can punish them without fear of retribution and the state can and will punish them.  That is why the 10 lashes – that is, being hit with a whip 10 times – for driving a car was so deeply upsetting and offending.  So far, I am okay, on solid ground, I only report on events as they are reported in the Arab press and usually confirmed by several sources.  My problem was not what I said about Saudi Arabia or my feelings about social injustice in Saudi Arabia – my problem was in the way I characterized the equality and fair treatment women could expect in the west, especially in the United States.

Well, last night I was walking around, thinking my own thoughts and not really aware of anything around me; it was dark, I was tired and I had some issues to work through.  But even though I am very hard of hearing, there are things I do hear on my walks, particularly in the summer.  In the summer people have their windows and doors open, the sit in their yards and they wander around with their dogs and kids and talk to their neighbors.  So last night when I heard voices I was not surprised; I was near the end of my walk and the world appeared to have gone to bed or at least moved behind closed doors .  Up to that point, it had been very quiet and the sound I heard was the sound of my own voice inside my head.  The silence was broken by loud voices a block or so away from me, I could hear both a man and woman – both were loud and very profane – it was clearly a very emotional argument.   As I was approaching she slammed the door of his car and stalked off into her apartment – he went ballistic.  Seemingly losing control of himself he screamed, threatened, banged about, demand her return and increased his profanity to a level of about every other word starting with an F.

Now I grew up in a home where my stepfather yelled – he yelled about everything – he yelled at everyone – but he never swore at us, nor did he ever threaten anyone in my presence.  Because of that I have no direct knowledge of domestic violence – however, listening to that man threaten that women I understand just how close to the surface it can be – all of the time.  The man is almost always bigger and stronger and generally men believe themselves to be the appropriate boss and dictator of events.  It does not take much to tip the scale from an argument into a violent confrontation – last night I witnessed how easily the scales are tipped.

He did not follow her into the house and I assume she locked her door – but there was a moment when it was clear to her and to me from the tone of his voice that violence was very near.  So much for my platitudes about justice and equality – most domestic violence must happen just like that – outside of the public eye and criminal justice system.  The only time the system gets involved is when the woman goes to hospital or morgue.  My apologies to all of the women whose precarious situation I dismissed so casually.

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1 Response to “An awakening to an ugly truth – domestic violence”


  1. 1 Female Las Vegas July 26, 2014 at 9:33 am

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