Justifying domestic violence

// 27 May 2009

Consider this story in the Independent, is about a man who pushed his ex-wife down the stairs and stabbed her with hairdressing scissors.

So, why did the Independent lede it:

A mild-mannered grandfather was today jailed for attacking his wife after learning of her 30-year affair with his best man.

A case where a man has stabbed his wife with scissors is framed by describing him as a “mild-mannered grandfather”. Right.

And why did the judge say:

Judge Peter Thornton told him: “This attack, however inexplicable in its ferocity, did have an explanation.

“Your anger and your jealousy at her infidelity and your fear of losing her no doubt caused acute stress for you and led you to committing this offence.

“You are normally a quiet, non-violent, hard-working family man. This is a sad case and you acted completely out of character.”

So… a less ferocious attack would have been OK?!

And the defence soliciter said:

“He is basically an amicable, gentle man.”

The story inexplicably doesn’t say what sentence was handed out to 63-year-old Brian Gibbs was sentenced to four and a half years in prison.

The Indepedent never uses the words “domestic violence”.

And we wonder why oh why so many people think there is an ‘excuse’ for domestic violence and rape…

(H/T CTrouper)

Comments From You

Kristel // Posted 27 May 2009 at 3:57 pm

It says (towards the end) that he was sentenced to four and a half years jail at the Old Bailey. I don’t know if that’s been added since. Of course ‘mild-mannered’ Mister Scissors will serve barely a third of his sentence.

I’ve got a feeling that if a wife had stabbed her cheating husband in the neck with a pair of scissors she wouldn’t be getting quite so much sympathy as ‘gentle, mild-mannered Brian’. She would certainly have got a much longer jail term and the Daily Unmentionable would grab the chance for another orgy of vitriolic vilification. (Special Report by Carol Sarler, I’m guessing).

Jess McCabe // Posted 27 May 2009 at 4:00 pm

Thanks Kristel!!

Laurel Dearing // Posted 27 May 2009 at 4:02 pm

i dont know if she would get longer the other way around, but there would certainly be cries of insanity and jealousy

Morag // Posted 27 May 2009 at 4:34 pm

It’s a joke that the judge went lightely because he “acted out of character”. I doubt the judge knew him well enough to know what kind of “character” he was. His wife certainly knew.

In order to be convicted of domestic assualt does one have to be violent all the time? Maybe he was quite a violent person but didnu’t show it outside of the home. It’s not just loud and brash men who attack their wifes; men who seem perfectly respectable and successful are also capable fo sch acts.

Jennifer Drew // Posted 27 May 2009 at 5:11 pm

Yet again more male-defined excuses for men’s sexual and physical violence committed against female partners.

Obviously this mild-mannered man saved his anger and deliberate violence until he was safe in his ‘castle’ whereupon he could inflict severe physical injury and trauma on his ‘female property.’

Many, many men and women experience infidelity but they do not attempt to murder their partners. Yet when violent, cunning and manipulative men commit cold-blooded criminal acts against female/ex female partners the usual excuses are ‘trotted out.’ Unless of course, the said male perpetrator(s) are non-white in which case much is made of their ‘difference’ compared to white men. No mention must be made of the fact it is overwhelmingly men who are the ones committing these crimes against women, instead they are deemed to have suffered temporary loss of control.

Yet again patriarchy is illogical, because we are constantly told men but not women are rational, logical and unemotional. Therefore, male rages are illogical and hence should not happen but when they do, they are supposedly justified.

Has this man not heard of divorce? Judge Peter Thornton has obviously swallowed all the lies Brian Gibbs used to justify his crime against a woman.

When the media perpetuates lies and myths concerning men’s violence against women it is no wonder so many men and women continue to blame women for supposedly causing pseudo mild-mannered men to commit such atrocities against women.

Karen // Posted 27 May 2009 at 11:58 pm

My father got away with over 20 years of domestic violence towards our family because to those on the outside, he was a polite, well-mannered, good-humoured person. To me, he/she (now a post op trans/cisexual, long story!) was always more dangerous for that reason. Better the devil you know as they say. Nothing excuses domestic violence, no excuse at all, sorry, even infidelity (mabe she realised he had an angry side or something, how much of her side of the story do we really know?)

AileenWuornos // Posted 28 May 2009 at 4:32 am

This makes me feel so much more confident in the fact that feminism isn’t needed anymore!

[ / sarcasm ]

Seriously, did

“Judge Peter Thornton told him: “This attack, however inexplicable in its ferocity, did have an explanation.

“Your anger and your jealousy at her infidelity and your fear of losing her no doubt caused acute stress for you and led you to committing this offence.

“You are normally a quiet, non-violent, hard-working family man. This is a sad case and you acted completely out of character.”

Irritate anyone else as much as me? Just the subtle implication of women as property in that makes me very, very upset.

He didn’t attack her because she had an affair, he attacked her because he believed that he was her “keeper” and her vagina was his property. What a fucking jerk. There is nothing mild-mannered about this.

You know when my previous partners were unfaithful to me, I just called them liars and broke up with them. Is that really that difficult to do people?

This just proves the theory I have of people only really considering violence against women legitimate when she ends up dead. And even then, she probably deserved it, the slut. [ / sarcasm ]

Ffs :(

Lara // Posted 28 May 2009 at 11:57 am

And the fact that the article uses the word ‘finally’. He ‘finally snapped’. Like he had been driven to it. I’m sure if this had been a female perpetrator she would have been cast as a wild-eyed mad woman.

Also interesting how the report is almost entirely on his temperament and his injustices and she is written about completely passively. Like she’s incidental to what happened.

Alison // Posted 28 May 2009 at 2:17 pm

i think all people are human and even a man can “snap” but there are many types of abuse and a womon would probably be thought a hero, if she did what he did after so many years!

Jess McCabe // Posted 28 May 2009 at 3:02 pm

@Alison – Sorry, but in what universe would a woman be “thought a hero” for violently assaulting her husband? That’s just not true.

Amy Clare // Posted 28 May 2009 at 3:18 pm

Terrible article from the Indie, written totally from the point of view of the attacker. Really, really shocking. The blatant attempt to make the reader feel sorry for the poor man who brutally attacked his wife is just shameless. Unbelievable.

Do people really still not know that perpetrators of domestic violence do not go around with ‘partner-abuser’ tattooed on their forehead, snarling and starting fights with everyone they meet? Clearly not. Someone needs to tell this judge (and everyone else) that domestic abusers are normal people, who often seem gentle and kind and charming to everyone except the partner they’re abusing. Anyone who’s been a victim or who has talked to victims will know that the first thing most of the friends and family say on hearing the truth is “I don’t believe you, he wouldn’t do that” and so on. Are people really that egocentric that they refuse to believe anyone’s experience of a person other than their own?

It doesn’t matter whether an instance of DV happened once or whether it’s been going on for fifty years. If you throw your wife down the stairs and stab her with scissors, you are a domestic abuser, not someone who ‘snapped’, not someone who ‘acted out of character’, a domestic abuser. Plenty of people deal with infidelity every day, most of the time they just walk out of the relationship. They do not commit GBH!

Perhaps if the Indie reporter had done his job as a journalist and not just blindly accepted one side of the story, he’d have found out whether the attacker really was ‘mild-mannered’. But the victim’s side of the story is clearly irrelevant – funny that!

Beth Chow // Posted 28 May 2009 at 7:01 pm

@Alison/Jess McCabe,

I agree Alison, it is sad but heros are often peole who do not live by the rules. It is a shame that is how the world is but you would always find women who would look up to someone who fought back. I am sure there are a lot of men who agree with what this man did and it would be the same if the roles were reversed. And im sorry but I think that just is true.

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