Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: When it's Not Okay

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  • John Morrison,

    Enlightening responses, thanks. My wife and I sat through the interview and wondered why, we couldn't understand it.

    But I just wonder what are we doing to our kids when they cannot say to themselves 'I'm in a bad space here, I'm leaving', whatever that situation may be.

    Cromwell • Since Nov 2006 • 85 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    But I just wonder what are we doing to our kids when they cannot say to themselves 'I'm in a bad space here, I'm leaving', whatever that situation may be.

    John, I was a kid who grew up in an abuse household. It has, without a doubt, left permanent mental scars on me.

    But it also meant that the first time I was ever hit by a boyfriend, and he apologised straight away and was absolutely distraught, I recognised enough of my father's behaviour in him to get up and walk straight out and refuse to see him again.

    I am quite sure that my mother feels guilt for not getting us kids away from him faster. But I also understand how massively difficult it was for her, and how much worse what she went through was than what we had to endure.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    <quote>But what do blind people have?</quite>

    Well, a blind spot is ultimately the area of the retina where the optic nerve joins it and there are no receptors so one can't perceive photons that happen to land there (incidentally, a marvellous disproof of "intelligent design" if any more was needed).

    So wearing my bloody-minded and annoyingly literal-minded computer person hat, which I think is the right hat to wear when people want to pick metaphors apart, I'd argue that blind people have them the same as anyone else, unless they're actually blind because they have no eyes, in which case they have none, or perhaps very big ones, depending on (you should the pardon the expression) your point of view.

    I'm going to take that hat off now, because it's quite tight and gives me a headache.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite,

    I think the saddest thing about Kristin and all the other women who are similarly 'trapped', is that they simply cannot walk away.

    The thing is, the insidious trap that abusers lay, is that they really do not have a set end in mind, but rather that the means itself is the end. The purpose is not to "correct" "wrong" behaviour by the victim, but to reduce a previously independent person into an abject state of dependency and dread. There is no end, only the process. Nothing will make everything right. Abusers work by making their victims believe, desperately, that if only they changed themselves then things would be right whereas the abuser will always seek some new fault to be corrected in an escalating cycle because they have no end goal, only a process.

    Thus, the victim feels that they cannot simply walk out, because they do not have the power to do so. This is exactly the potential strength that the abuser targets first and foremost.

    And they'll do it through physical bullying, or emotional bullying. I've observed that there are abusive people, and if they're men, they'll abuse women physically, because they can, and if they're women, they'll do it emotionally, because that's the only way that they can, but in the end, abuse is abuse.

    Which is precisely what she says in the section I quoted. She's an educated, professional woman -- she should have been able to walk away. But she couldn't.

    Which is the exact point. The abuser wants to destroy the personal sense of empowerment that their victim has.

    Sorry if that all seems rather grim and righteous, but I have a close, long-term (male) friend in frail health who's currently exiting an abusive relationship.

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 982 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    But what do blind people have?

    Spots?

    Bloke in pub, to his mate.
    "I keep seeing spots in front of my eyes"
    His mate says,
    "Have ya seen a doctor"
    Bloke says,
    "Nah mate, only spots"

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    Oh Steve, Steve, Steve. Luvs ya!

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    C'mon, metaphorically not literally. No wrong answers, extra points for wit.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19735 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Barnes ahead on that front already.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19735 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    On the Weatherstone case, in the (hopefully unlikely) event that he "gets off" through provocation, one hopes that that might just be the final nail for the provocation defence. McThicker is quite likely to ignore the banjo killing, because that was "only" an old, gay man, but when the killers of attractive, young, straight women can use it, well, that's precisely the kind of thing that'll get Insensible Sentencing out on the hustings railing about injustice.

    Much as I hope the jury sees through the attempted defence, if only because a close friend was a childhood friend of Sophie's, it would be a better thing for society as a whole if the case were to be the death knell for provocation.

    And Graeme, if you're about, any idea how often provocation is used each year? It's got to be some kind of record to have two cases overlapping that both have it in play.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Patricia,

    <quote>To me, their self-esteem and dignity should drive them out of the relationship, but sadly, even some don't know any better than to stay./quote>

    The abuser has threatened the very self esteem of the victim through the continual emotional/verbal/physical abuse. They simply immobilise their victim intellectually and emotionally and with that paralysis of self, the victim finds themselves unable to make decisions and certainly not the one to leave.

    behind the couch • Since Dec 2008 • 17 posts Report Reply

  • ChrisW,

    Understood, agree almost entirely, except for that word certainly in

    certainly not the one to leave

    There's something like 'natural selection' going on - some victims of an abusive relationship get out and leave, no doubt in some cases relatively early in what might otherwise have become a deeper pit, sometimes later.
    Others don't get out, until the degree of damage becomes intolerable and/or comes to our attention one way or another - and it's these people who we wonder about - why they didn't get up and go? rather than all the ones who had already left.

    Gisborne • Since Apr 2009 • 851 posts Report Reply

  • Megan Wegan,

    The abuser has threatened the very self esteem of the victim through the continual emotional/verbal/physical abuse. They simply immobilise their victim intellectually and emotionally and with that paralysis of self, the victim finds themselves unable to make decisions and certainly not the one to leave.

    Precisely. Also, what CD said.

    I had this exact discussion with a colleague yesterday. I pointed out that it's not only poor and stupid people in abusive relationships, and it was strong and brave of Kristin Dunne Powell to stand up and say that, and he replied "she can't be that strong if she stayed in the relationship".

    I had to end the conversation and leave the room, because I've already reached this week's quota of frustrated screaming and teeth gnashing.

    I don't get why it is so difficult to understand that it's more complicated than "He hits me so I'm leaving".

    Welly • Since Jul 2008 • 1275 posts Report Reply

  • FletcherB,

    Can I just say....

    All these statements about abusers...

    They want this, they set out to do that, their goal is....

    These statements are all worded in a way that suggests the abuser is conscious of what they are doing. They behave that way on purpose, they have a plan...

    I'm just guessing, but I'd suggest that while they do do those things, affect their targets of abuse that way, that the only an extremely small percentage are aware of it in the way suggested by those statements.

    My point is not to excuse the evil behavior.... but to help those who do those things to recognize it in themselves, and hopefully change.... if you make statements that are accusatory, rather than just explanatory, you'll get a far higher "but I'm not like that" response... which only helps it continue...

    West Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 893 posts Report Reply

  • Patricia,

    I don't get why it is so difficult to understand that it's more complicated than "He hits me so I'm leaving"

    Exactly back at ya!

    In a nutshell if we are not saying that the abused are staying simply for the beatings/abuse then we have to accept that the reason that victims, are not then leaving in their droves, is that this is not an easy decision for them to make and takes time and community support to make it happen.

    behind the couch • Since Dec 2008 • 17 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    On a related note is it just me or is the Clayton Weatherston/Sophie Elliot case just getting more and more bizarre.

    I didn't know either of them, but I know some people who knew Sophie. It's highlighted how horrendous the media coverage of these cases is to watch and has made me avoid this particular case. I'm starting to wonder what public interest is served by 5 minutes a night of this "murder porn".

    (And what FletcherB said above about the abusers. Aye, I think there's some over-assigning of conscious planned thought to these people. Often it's just not knowing a better way.)

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Thank you all for your lucid, insightful and humane posts about a tricky subject. Wasn't trying to be flippant or derailing last night, just nothing much to add and enjoying this constructive discussion after our rather more heated one last year.

    Jane Clifton's DomPost tv review questions whether Dunne-Powell should have said anything at all. Clifton makes some striking assumptions about the goodwill of the public - but not of the media.

    It's almost certain that most people wouldn't have thought she had behaved badly, or done anything from malicious motives - or that even if she had, she was so much more sinned-against than sinner that it really made little odds.

    However, Dunne-Powell told 60 Minutes she was haunted by "misinformation" about her, in particular that she may have been venal and vindictive in accepting the money and then going to the police as well, and that it was she who had caused the story to be leaked.

    ...

    She also offered the excuse of feeling a responsibility to speak out about domestic violence, to reassure other victims that it wasn't just poor or stupid women who became entrapped in "the spider's web the abuser spins around you".

    And that's fair enough.

    But what was probably going on here, too, was a desperate "Here I am - now will you go away?" offering to the pestilential media that has been, by her account, virtually spying on her since the affair was made public.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19735 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    But what was probably going on here, too, was a desperate "Here I am - now will you go away?" offering to the pestilential media that has been, by her account, virtually spying on her since the affair was made public.

    I would have thought so too, Sacha.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    The 60 Minutes item is now online for viewing.

    I gather they posted it about five minutes after I snarked at them ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22843 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    I didn't know either of them, but I know some people who knew Sophie. It's highlighted how horrendous the media coverage of these cases is to watch and has made me avoid this particular case

    That certainly fits with my friend. I saw her the day the trial started, and she said that she thought she'd just have to avoid the news while the trial was on because she'd been so upset by some of the (untrue) things that had been reported at the time of the killing. I consciously avoid talking with her about it, because I know that the coverage is so thoroughly gutter press and, if she has happened to catch it, she'll be wanting to avoid thinking about it.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    It's highlighted how horrendous the media coverage of these cases is to watch and has made me avoid this particular case. I'm starting to wonder what public interest is served by 5 minutes a night of this "murder porn".

    TVNZ is finally apologising for their coverage of the case.

    :(

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    I haven't been following this case at all, and then this morning I happened upon a little coverage in the Herald. The first couple of paragraphs were all I needed to see. What does this man think he gains from some of the shit he's spewing?

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    And what FletcherB said above about the abusers. Aye, I think there's some over-assigning of conscious planned thought to these people. Often it's just not knowing a better way.

    FletcherB's observation strikes me as both insightful and generous. In my very humble experience there's a species of abuser with a fine-honed predator's instinct for exploiting insecurity. Combine this with the cynical use of a little psychology, and intellectual sophistication will offer little defence.

    I believe that such behaviour is largely learned, both by the perpetrator and victim. Usually there's a parent who's displayed or who has been on the receiving end of abusive behaviour. What I find mysterious is that some people vigorously avoid their parents' mistakes from an early age, while others sadly repeat them.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    What does this man think he gains from some of the shit he's spewing?

    He seems to think he can talk his way out of something.
    A murder conviction perhaps.
    I just have to marvel at his lack of self consciousness.
    But then I change the channel.

    And would you find me credulous and gullible if I were to tell you that I was a fan of Sensing Murder? Probably. Ah well, I'll live.

    search Derren Brown on You tube or Google Video.
    You will be less gullible afterwards.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1890 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite,

    Joe, I agree. "Intention" is the best term that can be used for behaviour that is oriented towards a process and/or goal without it necessarily being conscious. The thing about many personality disorders is that the person with it is rarely able to perceive it as such (though one person I know who's recovered from OCD and is now working through layers of atypical anxiety disorder is very self-aware, but this is after years of cognitive behaviour therapy).

    The abuser works like a sculptor, knocking off the bits that stick out, forming their victim into an ever more "perfect", abject form. The abuser will not rationally decide to target their victim's weak points, they will instead find particular aspects intensely aggravating and attack those and be gratified by results, which is a form of Pavlovian self-conditioning if you like.

    Pathological behaviour need not be consciously planned as such to be sophisticated, compulsive and systematic nonetheless.

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 982 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    TVNZ is finally apologising for their coverage of the case.

    :(

    As long as there's no swearing, displaying someone dragging the life and death of a human being over the coals as 'news' is OK. :P

    I should say, he can have whatever defense he wants. He's facing a murder charge and if his defense is he was driven to it, obviously he has to say a bunch of bad things about her to prove that.

    I just don't see why we need it serialised from 6.00 to 6.05 every night. If I want to see gruesome details I can watch CSI.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

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