The Magistrate's Blog (2005-2012)

This blog has migrated to www.magistratesblog.blogspot.co.uk This blog is anonymous, and Bystander's views are his and his alone. Where his views differ from the letter of the law, he will enforce the letter of the law because that is what he has sworn to do. If you think that you can identify a particular case from one of the posts you are wrong. Enough facts are changed to preserve the truth of the tale but to disguise its exact source.

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Location: Near London, United Kingdom

The blog is written by a retired JP, with over 30 years' experience on the Bench.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Home Sweet Home

I have intended for some time to say something about domestic violence cases, but it is a big topic and I have put off tackling it. There are domestic violence cases on the court list more or less every day, and this year we have heard evidence of the most appalling and sustained battery of women by their violent partners and husbands. A typical kind of case is a woman who marries or welcomes in a man while knowing that he has a conviction for a vicious attack on his former partner. Once they have tied the knot he begins assaulting his new wife, usually after having had a drink – and by a drink I am talking about up to six litres of nine per cent cider. Head butting, fists, feet, biting, spitting, nothing gets left out of his attacks, even as she lies in bed, too terrified even to protest. Attacks are often witnessed by her children. After several admissions to hospital she finally agrees to accept help, and lover-boy is finally charged.

In another typical case a man has a similar history of battering his wife, putting her in hospital several times, and has repeatedly been arrested and charged. Every time the victim withdraws her evidence, and despite the CPS applying its robust Domestic Violence policy the case is going nowhere. While we deal with the case the victim sits, pale and wan, in the gallery to support the ‘lover’ who has treated her like a punchbag, night after night. It is quite usual for the victim to come and see how her man gets on with his application for bail.

I am hoping to receive training on Domestic Violence some time next year, and I am eager to improve my understanding of the issues. But the question that keeps going through my mind is :- “What’s the matter with these women? Why do they keep coming back for more? Is it sexual psychology? Is it fear of loneliness, or poverty? Is it low self-esteem?”

I don’t know the answers. At this stage I am just formulating the questions. But we will have to look for a better way of protecting these women that hitherto.