Justice Patterson re-victimising female victims


GECOM Chairman, Justice (retired) James Patterson in a recent letter to the media on the crisis of domestic violence and femicide, stated, “Our women folk must bear some responsibility. It is not wise to be cute and clueless. Women must understand that you have a duty to upgrade yourselves”.
This excursion into the age-old tactic of blaming the victim was, in the words of one member of The Caribbean Voice, “unnerving” and elicited “disbelief”. The fact is that research clearly shows that abuse has nothing to do with the ‘cuteness’, educational status or social standing of victims.
Domestic violence and abuse stem from a desire to gain and maintain power and control over an intimate partner (see wheel of power and control below). Abusive people believe they have the right to control and restrict their partners, and they may enjoy the feeling that exerting power gives them. They believe they can get away with the abuse and far too often they do. In effect, abuse is a choice.
Additionally, Justice Patterson’s remarks, that, “Women have been infected by the orgies of violence and both genders seem to have outsourced their brain,” seems like an attempt to tar both the abused and the abuser with the same brush so as to provide an escape for the abuser by implying that the victim is equally to be blamed.
Justice Patterson adds, “I also understand how women could goad us to fury”. While he follows this up with “Yet, that is no excuse for us to wage a donnybrook in the home of which the headship rests on us,” this remark does not nullify the import of the previous one, which seeks to blame women for their abuse. Again, mountains of research make it clear that provocation (of any and all sorts) is not a cause for abuse.
The second part of the latter remark: “home of which the headship rests on us [men]” is rather startling since the concept of men as head of households reinforces the abuser who feels a sense of entitlement and believes that his life should take priority. As well, abusers often believe that their own feelings and needs should be the priority in their relationships, so they use abusive tactics to dismantle equality and make their partners feel less valuable and less deserving of respect in the relationship.
The Caribbean Voice strongly urges opinion shapers and influencers in our society to always premise their remarks about social issues such as abuse on the facts and the evidence, which are available in mountainous amounts at the click or rolling of a mouse these days. To do as Justice Patterson did in his letter provides justification as well as fuel to abusers while it also re-victimises victims.

About caribvoice

Free lance journalist, educator and community activist. Guyana born New York based.
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