More of my unsolicited thoughts on criminalising coercive control:

The argument that if these laws are introduced, victims will have the choice to engage with the legal system or steer clear of it is a flawed one. 1/
It fails to acknowledge that the concept of ‘choice’ & the criminal legal system have a somewhat acrimonious relationship. Charges can be laid without victim consent & if you are a misidentified perpetrator/defendant, you really do need to show up to court to defend yourself. 2/
Once in court - no matter how consensual your legal engagement is, & even as a victim-witness, you will be subject to a range of stressful and often humiliating experiences that you didn’t know you would be signing up for. 3/
His defence counsel may subpoena decades of counselling and psychiatric notes as did my ex’s. They will cross examine you for hours. Your innermost thoughts and confessions laid bare before the Court and whoever else is there to watch the circus. 4/
Your ex will hear more about your private thoughts & your physical and mental health than you ever wanted them to. I can’t describe how violating that feels. Nor how degrading it is to feel as if your own sanity & credibility are on trial alongside your perpetrator’s actions 5/
After all that (and more), a decision will be made - a verdict of guilty or not guilty. If not guilty, you may be told it’s because you’re too crazy to be beyond-reasonable-doubt credible or it may simply be insufficient evidence. A devastated witness walks away invalidated 6/
If there is a guilty result, you may feel a wave of vindication and validation. And then you wait for sentencing. I can almost guarantee you that whatever the sentence is, it will not feel enough. The quantification of your trauma, reduced to a fine or minimal time. 7/
Then there is the thing that I don’t hear anyone talking about. After the conviction of my ex, I felt sad & conflicted. I once loved this man. I’m also legally obliged to coparent with him. I didn’t blame myself for his abuse but complicated feelings were made more so. 8/
I can honestly say that the time I spent in legal proceedings delayed my healing. It kept me in a state of limbo for months. Surviving day to day. Not knowing what the future would hold. Painful wounds being ripped open at every hearing, never having the chance to heal. 9/
At the end of it, a downgraded charge and a conviction was something of a hollow victory. It did not feel empowering to me. I felt smaller and more insignificant than ever before. I expected to feel powerful, reclaiming the power he took from me, but I didn’t. 10/
At home, my kids watched their mother’s vacant eyes and alarming weight loss as I promised them over again that I would try to put the pieces of our lives back together ‘soon’. Just after the next hearing. When my energy wasn’t consumed by the cause of ‘justice’. 11/
The enactment of a law is more than words in a statute. They represent a social force with immense power to (mis)direct lives. They rarely heal, & they rarely redeem. That’s the sobering news 12/
The good news is that there are other ways to tackle difficult human problems other than through the blunt instrument of the law. Many of our DFV services are doing brilliant work across the country. Let’s channel our resources into public condemnation of coercive control... 13/
... and associated behaviours by wrapping love & support around those affected. Healing women & kids in homes & communities instead of courtrooms. By making our existing law enforcement & systems more empowering for victims. By educating & empowering bystanders. 14/
By more housing options for victims. By better access to mental health services. By ensuring that children have childhoods they don’t have to recover from & where they learn about healthy relationships. 15/
Why can’t we have it all you ask? Because political will is a fickle beast. If you tell the legislature that a law will fix it, that’s all they will hear, no matter what they say. 16/ Image
I think my thread above should have had some hashtagging to reach a wider audience re: #criminalisecoercivecontrol #coercivecontrol? If anyone wants to read my thoughts on why this might not be quite the solution we're looking for, read from tweet 1/ - 16/ above🤗

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More from @juliettemcaleer

3 Oct
Right! It’s a new day! Let’s talk coercive control laws and why some of us are a little sensitive about the issue. 1/
Coercive control is framed as a ‘liberty crime’ and for me, this description resonates. The criminal justice system curtails liberty by design. 2/
Many victim-survivors have been brutally harmed by both their intimate partners AND by the very legal system designed to help us. Sometimes our perpetrators use the legal system to continue their campaign of terror or the legal system fails us when we actively seek its help 3/
Read 16 tweets
12 Sep
I just rang PoliceLink to ask whether aggrieved parties whose respondent perpetrators are going to receive a random police visit would be told ahead of time. The officer I spoke to said “I have no idea about this. What did the ABC article say?” I told her. She put me on hold 1/4
for what seemed like a very long time while she tried to ask at least 5 different ‘sergeants’ about the initiative and how it will work.

The answer was an unequivocal “no, we will most certainly not be alerting victims. Some of them have cross orders against them you know” 2/4
When asked if she could reassure me that QPS would not be infuriating my hairtrigger ex by visiting while he has the kids this weekend they said “I can’t give you assurances or absolutes on anything” 3/4
Read 6 tweets
31 Aug
A psychiatrist once called me ‘a fascinating case’. Ostensibly because I was not ‘doing victimhood’ as he expected I should.

Apparently being fiercely critical of psychiatry & feisty when called ‘emotionally retarded’ did not accord with his expectation of... ImageImage
... my bruised & battered body which presumably should have been outwardly demonstrating passivity, shame & gratitude for his intervention.

In his singular focus on victim blaming, he missed an opportunity to actually help me leave violence, some 8 years before I finally did...
Some DFV/IPV victims are passive, some are feisty. Some have intellectual disabilities & some have degrees. Some (like me) are annoying ‘patients’ who question everything. Others are compliant and grateful. How someone ‘does victimhood’ is irrelevant. All are deserving of help...
Read 4 tweets
15 Aug
Leaving violence feels never-ending.

When your ex is adept a weaponising courts & your own children, it is impossible to escape.

Like wind-up toys for him to set & watch play out his coercive, controlling games on his behalf.

1/7 Image
Imagine teaching your child that it’s funny to grab mummy by the throat or the back of her neck & watch with amusement as she involuntarily freezes & cowers?

2/7
How, as a mother do you explain that this game is not fun. That it takes you back to that time their Dad wrapped his hands around your throat, squeezed & said “I could kill you if I wanted to”

3/7
Read 8 tweets
27 Jun
Many amazing victim-survivors I’ve spoken to got through the trauma of relational violence and continued post-separation abuse through little acts of resistance & protest that help us survive & reclaim our ‘selves’.

I’m keen to hear examples & to share mine 😉 What did you do?
Wearing supergirl undies to Court made me feel better about being at the mercy of a patriarchal legal system & the shenanigans of my ex. I also rotated these socks in my boots (pictured). I wrote messages on my body under my court clothes. From “fuck you” to “you’ve got this!” Image
After the Court finally permitted me to relocate away from my abuser (after having been ordered to move to within 20 minutes of him when I fled) I named my new kitten after the FCCA judge - his name is ‘Mickey J’ 😎
Read 4 tweets
12 Jun
How important is it, this distinction we insist on making between lived-experience voices and professional or expert voices when discussing domestic abuse? 1/
Is it useful to privilege one form of expertise over the other (in either direction)? What do we gain and what do we lose by doing this (serious question)? Is there not room at the table for us all? And by that I mean the same table? Not the ‘kids table’. 2/
Why do the power brokers in the conversation have to make this distinction? Why do we have contrived ‘special’ forums to involve lived-experience voices, rather than the routine inclusion of victim-survivors on advisory councils comprised of all forms of expertise? 3/
Read 12 tweets

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