(TY to @BethanyKulig for image)
When I tried to make my father accountable for the abuse he was subjecting his new wife and his two new babies to, he told the social worker I was just jealous of his new life and wanted him back with my own mother. I was 27 at the time. The man who had plagued my childhood with his misogyny, the one who called me a slag aged 12, for no other reason than I was my mother’s daughter. The man who beat my mother so much so, aged 40, she had a new set of false teeth. The man who would beat me just to see the anguish on my mother’s face when she couldn’t do anything about it. The man who, when I finally confided in him as a grown woman that I had been abused by another man, tried to bribe me into doing something for him else he would tell everybody about my disclosure. The man that the social worker man believed, who subsequently closed the case for my half baby brother and sister. The case was only reopened when his supervisor suspected the social worker of gross negligence, not just in my case but his entire caseload.
There will be social workers and police officers and judges and probation workers who are exactly like that social worker. Who will take the say so of one man over the piles of evidence from wives and daughters. They will keep the agony of patriarchy alive. When a case was eventually compiled against my father and he was taken to court so that social services could take custody* of the children, he and his solicitor would magically prop up wherever I was. No doubt planned to intimidate and make me feel as uncomfortable as possible. It just made me more determined.
Fathers for justice give me a very bad feeling. They seem to suggest that having ownership as father is more important than respecting the mother of their children. I’ve got news for those cowboys.
“In 40 – 70% of cases where women are being abused, the children are also being directly abused themselves (Stark and Flitcraft, 1996; Bowker et al., 1998.)”
“The majority of children witness the violence that is occurring, and in 90% of cases they are in the same or next room (Hughes, 1992). Children can ‘witness’ domestic violence in many different ways. For example, they may get caught in the middle of an incident in an effort to make the violence stop. They may be in the room next door and hear the abuse or see their mother’s physical injuries following an incident of violence. They may be forced to stay in one room or may not be allowed to play. They may be forced to witness sexual abuse or they may be forced to take part in verbally abusing the victim.
All children witnessing domestic violence are being emotionally abused.”
(Women’s Aid DV Statistics)
Fathers for justice seem to suggest that it doesn’t matter how vile he is about his child’s mother, the only thing that matters are his rights and that he gets to exercise them. Typical misogynistic bullying, I’m afraid. A mother is the centre of a child’s world. She gave birth to that child, they are inextricably linked. It is argued that babies feel attached to their mothers by an invisible umbilical cord to at least the age of 3. A small baby will only likely want to feed, favouring mother over father for those first few months. I think at this stage, a jealousy is borne in fathers wanting ownership. They will never come close to feeling the miracle of creation; they can never sustain that child with their own body. As a result, they can never emulate the bond between mother and child. And it’s this redundancy that provokes them into a malicious and frenzied attack against all womankind. The realisation that despite their contribution, not only does the child favour the person it was carried in, but society favours the child remaining with the person who effectively created him and can best nurture him.
I know many men who are in awe at the cycle of life. They will happily admit they wish they had the ability to create and nurture as women do. Instead, they graciously accept that their role in creation is to provide for and protect their families. They understand the value of a woman giving them her womb, wanting to bear their children. When she is respected by the father of her children she will do her utmost to facilitate the relationship, even if they are no longer together. This, I have witnessed amongst my friends. And their fathers happily admit, a child’s place is with their mother, nothing can replace that. Decent people remain amicable for the sake of their children. They do not use cartoonish campaigns to belittle and undermine the role of woman and mother. For, in doing so, they are actually directly harming their children.
These fathers do not want justice for their children. They want a joke justice for themselves.
* I am about as anti as you can get regarding removal of children but in this case, I felt there was no choice
** I would expect any honest, decent father fighting for justice to cancel his membership after such an indecent dig by the patriarchy