Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

“Domestic violence: where is the public outcry?”: Lucy Mangan on the urgent need for a better response

violence.jpg
Lucy Mangan

So, it has been concluded by a serious case review committee that 17-year-old Georgia Williams, murdered, then violated, then dumped in woodland by 23-year-old Jamie Reynolds who had become obsessed with her, was let down by the police and their associated agencies.

You wish that this, that any of this, came as a surprise. But the women’s charity Refuge is currently petitioning (refuge.org.uk/publicinquiry) to open a public enquiry into the response of the police and other state agencies to domestic violence precisely because it does not.

That a young woman – a girl I would call her if I didn’t remember how much I hated that when I was 17 – is killed by a man is not a surprise. That he was known to the police is not a surprise. That the police let him off with a warning after he tried to strangle a 16-year-old girl in 2008 is no surprise. Nor their refusal to take action after his own deeply worried parents came to them about the violent image he was creating. In 2011, the police didn’t check his record when he rammed a colleague’s car after she rejected his advances, so didn’t tie him to the 2008 attack. The eight other agencies involved never coordinated, never noted he was obsessed with Williams, never intervened. And so we have Georgia’s dead body, abandoned in the woods, 50 miles from home.

I sit here sometimes and boggle not at the fact that an average of two women a week are killed by their partners (or, in cases like the obsessed Reynolds, their would-be partners) – I’ve seen enough male violence meted out to my friends and family even in my sheltered and privileged life for this not to shock, though of course it makes it no less eternally hateful – but at the fact that it causes no public outcry. Think what would happen if a group of people of religious/ethnic/sexuality type A killed over a hundred people a year, every year, because they were of religious/ethnic/sexuality type B. I think we’d see a coordinated response then, don’t you? I think some state agencies would engage in some joined up thinking pretty effing pronto. Money, special teams, forces, investigations, aid would be mobilised. And rightly so.

But not when it’s women. According to Refuge, 85% of domestic violence victims seek help from professionals an average of five times before they actually get it. There still seems to be some deep-rooted belief that when a man hits a woman it’s part of the natural order of things. And when he hits her some more. Well, there are beatings and there are beatings, aren’t there? You cause a ruckus outside a pub or club and damage another punter, you can expect to be arrested. But if you do it in the privacy of your own home, to your own woman, that’s different. And when you kill her, that’s an isolated incident. You’re not part of a pattern. You – and she – were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. 

I can barely believe that Britain in 2015 is so often that wrong place and that wrong time, but it is. Over a hundred times a year, it is. And that’s just the killings, remember. The visible tip of the iceberg that is made up of years of terrorised misery and suffering among women and, too often again, their children. Years in which far too few of the people we look to for our protection thought it necessary to intervene.

Photography: Ellis Parrinder

Related

ThinkstockPhotos-484348046.jpg

Lucy Mangan on why we should all compliment our colleagues more

rexfeatures_5225188k.jpg

Protesters storm Suffragette film premiere to fight for women's rights

acid.JPG

Acid-attack survivor shares powerful beauty videos to raise awareness

273_LUCY_INLINE.jpg

Lucy Mangan on mansplaining

ThinkstockPhotos-487482698.jpg

A virtual companion to walk you home? The app aiming to keep us safe

10420311_442135085960346_5936089798371020228_n.png

This woman helps domestic abuse victims by offering free tattoos

Cathy brown.jpg

Meet the women battling sexism to fight for a living

Lucy141_rt.jpg

Lucy Mangan on teenage diaries

charlotte-proudman-barrister.jpg

“The LinkedIn barrister wasn't a victim of misogyny”

Comments

More

“Happiness is getting acquainted with Mother Nature”

Lucy Mangan steps outside

by The Stylist web team
04 Dec 2016

Why ladylike language can sod off

Lucy Mangan is pleased that we have reached gender parity on swearing

by Lucy Mangan
04 Nov 2016

“Pure bliss is having the house to yourself”

Lucy Mangan on the pleasure of being home alone

by Lucy Mangan
25 Oct 2016

Feeling powerless? Don’t worry, we all are

Lucy Mangan on fighting a feeling of helplessness

by Lucy Mangan
18 Oct 2016

Lucy Mangan on why female victims of crime are not ‘asking for it’

“How rich and famous are we allowed to become before it is OK to rob us at gunpoint?”

by Lucy Mangan
11 Oct 2016

Lucy Mangan on why celebrations have become so expensive

It's a birthday, not an investment opportunity

by Lucy Mangan
10 Oct 2016

Lucy Mangan on the women taking action around the world

All power to the global sisterhood

by Lucy Mangan
04 Oct 2016

Lucy Mangan explains why prostitution is not just another career

Stigma isn't the only problem

by Lucy Mangan
19 Sep 2016

“If we want our icons perfect, we could be in for a long wait”

Lucy Mangan on accepting the flaws of our heroes

by Lucy Mangan
10 Sep 2016

How sick days became the new mini-break

“Three days in bed with a bug did more good than a recent holiday in Norfolk”

by Lucy Mangan
29 Aug 2016