Letter: Not always easy to intervene in domestic disputes

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Dear Sir:

The recent spate of attacks on our women has prompted some to urge the rest of us to get involved, in as much as we can, to stop our women from being abused. Of course, those calling for members of society to do something and not just turn a blind eye are very noble. However, speaking from what I know, and sadly from experience, doing so is not that easy.

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Firstly, like any other same person, I must express my sadness at what many of our women (and believe it or not, some men) have had to be going through. However, with that said, tackling the problem of domestic abuse is not easy.

I remember when I myself “stuck my nose into other peoples’ business” one night by intervening in a domestic fight. My family once shared a rented building with a couple that were fighting one night and the woman was abused so badly that her “boyfriend” (a man old enough to be her father) was banging her head on the concrete wall, so much so that the house shook. After chasing her with a knife she left.

Imagine the next day, to my shock, to discover that the woman went back to bed with the same man! I was so angry that I began quarrelling with the woman – urging her to leave. Would you believe me if I told you that the woman gave me a not-so-polite response and told me to mind my own business?

I have personally seen cases where other women have been beaten to pulp by their men, only for these same women to go back to them. I have also personally seen cases where supposedly good Samaritans have intervened on behalf of these battered women only to be told, by both the man and the woman, to mind their own business. I even remember a case that was reported in the media of one peacemaker who was stabbed, trying to end a “man and woman” fight.

The point that I am making here is that, while no one in his or her right mind should condone what some of these women are going through, sometimes, if people like me try to get the women away from these abusive men, we end up getting the dirty end of stick, sometimes we even end up getting an expletive-laced cursing or worse – from the woman. This is true even if we play the informer and call the police.

Talking about the police, I really have to hand it to them. I know there was time when the police didn’t bother to waste time intervening in some of these “man and woman fights” as, often times, when they have parted the couple and left, they are back together again – sometimes within hours. Nowadays, of course, the police take a more active role, or at least, they are supposed to. However, it must be frustrating for many of our police officers to have to be parting the same fighting couples on a regular basis, sometimes, perhaps risking bodily harm to themselves.

I only wish that when things don’t work out between these couples that they can avoid the fighting and part company. However, and it pains me very much to say this, but, personally, I have taken the approach that whenever I see a fight occurring between a man and his spouse, I take their advice and tend to my own long list of problems and stay clear. Once bitten, twice shy!

Michael A. Dingwall.

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