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”

More

Lucy Mangan: “Apathy is domestic violence's biggest ally”

We shouldn't as why women stay - we should ask how it came to be that it was impossible for them to leave

by Lucy Mangan
01 Aug 2017

Lucy Mangan: we should “think twice” before considering porn harmless

“Porn has become normalised, placed almost beyond criticism by its sheer prevalence”

by Lucy Mangan
25 Jul 2017

Lucy Mangan is defending our right to platonic friendships

Our columnist on the infuriating mistrust a one-on-one dinner with a friend provokes

by Lucy Mangan
11 Jul 2017

Lucy Mangan: being ambitious isn’t for everyone

"I cannot live at full stretch"

by Lucy Mangan
08 Jun 2017

Lucy Mangan is exhausted by the “age of extremes”

“Can’t we all just agree to meet half-way?”

by Lucy Mangan
17 May 2017

Lucy Mangan: “Why I regret losing my religion”

"The older I get and the more chaotic the world gets, the more I wish I could trust in a higher power."

by Lucy Mangan
03 May 2017

Lucy Mangan exposes the dangers of parental point scoring

“Enough of this parent worship”

by Lucy Mangan
01 May 2017

“Family planning: the equality question”

Lucy Mangan on the burden of contraception

by Lucy Mangan
01 Apr 2017

Lucy Mangan on why feeling beautiful starts with your thoughts

“Erase the ugly voices in your head”

by Lucy Mangan
01 Apr 2017

“A step-by-step guide to sexism”: Lucy Mangan responds to ‘Legs-it’

You are a lady and you have legs. Use them to kick ass.

by Lucy Mangan
01 Apr 2017