This isn’t my average kind of post and I did wonder whether to publish it here. Does it come under ‘Mental and emotional health’? I think it does. Mothers living in fear, adult survivors of abuse, mothers with children murdered by spouses or ex-partners and other victims of domestic abuse all most certainly take a battering to their mental health.
I’ve unearthed this poem because during the current pandemic, cases of domestic abuse have risen. Women and children have been and are cooped up with their abusers with heightened tensions directly translating as a surging risk of harm or even death.
In the case of COVID-19, isolation, restricted movement and stay-at-home measures to contain the spread of the infection have a particularly acute impact on women. The chances of women and their children being exposed to violence is dramatically increased, as family members spend more time in close contact and household stress intensifies, and the risk grows even greater when families also have to cope with potential economic or job losses.World Health Organization
I wrote this some years ago, when I was frustrated at my powerlessness to be able to help a close friend with a dangerous ex-partner, the father of her child. I was literally frightened for their lives. A court case was involved with an ‘expert’ who simply did not understand the gravity of what this man was capable of.
There’s a recording, above, of me reading it if you’d prefer to listen.
Blood on Your Hands
You really don’t know what you have just done
‘Expert’, job description: protect my young son
As you stood in the courtroom and gave your opinion
Whitewashing disclosures of 3-year-old minion
‘Too young to give evidence. His view doesn’t matter’
But he’s witnessed his dad send his mother a-clatter
‘We’ll send dad on an anger management course
He’ll pass that one easy and show some remorse’
Jack’s been hurt and bullied in his short times with dad
I had to seek Refuge, found out dad was Bad
It turns out, it seems, that the new policy
Says ‘All fathers have rights, who cares who they be’
So let’s wave our new banner, chant with me after three
‘Let’s give rights to abusers, they’re fathers you see’
Our fate lies in your words. You’re a qualified fool
Pigeon-holed this small case as you follow your rules
He’ll be story-book dad, he could be a winner
Case closed, problem solved, let’s go home for our dinner
But you, so-called ‘expert’, you need to be trained
On a psychopath’s mind, his narcissistic brain
As it seems you know nought — Really nothing at all
So you read your report — I prepare for the fall
‘Mum has a nervous disposition’, you said
‘Jack repeats all those stories mum put in his head
She’s projecting her fears onto her small son
The mother must be the deluded one’
‘I think that the father’s quite charming’ said she
‘He’ll keep parental responsibility
Don’t let the wee lad think his dad is crazy
That wouldn’t be good for stability’
But what will it take? Is this The Mistake?
To make you see — hard reality
When he hunts us down, then you just might find out
That you didn’t know what you were talking about
When you got it so wrong up there on the stand
Then you’ll know, then you’ll know,
then you’ll know, then you’ll know
The following information is taken from an article in The Guardian about domestic abuse cases more than doubling during lockdown.
In the UK, call the national domestic abuse helpline on 0808 2000 247, or visit Women’s Aid. In Australia, the national family violence counselling service is on 1800 737 732. In the US, the domestic violence hotline is 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Other international helplines may be found via www.befrienders.org