Some of life’s most important lessons can be gained within the stories of others—including how to view issues like domestic violence. Now that we’ve closed the door on the 2010s, we’re spotlighting some of the decade’s most notable stories of domestic violence to see what truths we can glean from them. If you are currently facing possible DV charges, let’s take a closer look at the following real-life stories from the past ten years.
Knocked Unconscious, then Scalded
As one of the more gruesome examples of DV this decade, in 2016, Suzanne Thomas of Nottingham, England suffered severe burns to 27 percent of her body after her ex-boyfriend, Jason McLean, poured boiling water over her. Their relationship began innocently enough, and six months later, Thomas invited McLean to live with her. Over time, however, the couple began to argue more frequently, their exchanges becoming more heated. Things came to a head when McLean shoved Thomas’ head against a wall, after which he apologized and promised never to do that again. However, the emotional damage had been done, and Thomas found herself living in fear of his hair-trigger temper.
When Thomas finally got up the nerve to ask him to move out, McLean calmly packed a bag and said he’d be back later for the rest of his things. Instead, he broke into her home while she was out and accosted her when she returned, holding her at knifepoint, then throwing her to the ground and stomping her head until she fell unconscious. When she came to, he was waiting with a kettle of boiling water, which he poured over her arms, legs, stomach, and crotch. While this had been happening, a friend Thomas had been with went for help and flagged down a car. The police arrived before he could pour a second kettle of water on her, at which point he fled. Before McLean was caught, he managed to get to Thomas’ hospital bed to threaten her yet again. He was apprehended and is currently serving a 14-year prison sentence. As for Thomas, she still deals with the psychological and physical aftermaths of her abuse.
Key takeaways: While Thomas’ story is uncomfortable to recount, we can still learn a couple of key lessons from it:
- Domestic violence tends to escalate over time if not confronted. If someone had noted the warning signs, this couple might have been able to short-circuit the abuse cycle earlier.
- Getting to safety at the first sign of trouble could have prevented tragedy. We note that Thomas allowed McClean to stay for a time after the first instance occurred rather than calling the police immediately.
- Again, a friend’s intervention may have saved Thomas’ life. Had the police not been summoned and McClean had been able to pour the second kettle of boiling water, doctors believe the victim might not have survived.
“I Would Have Died”
Another story from “across the pond”…in June 2017, police in Bedfordshire, England responded to a call from a concerned neighbor who overheard screaming. When they arrived, reports the Independent, they found Jordan Worth beating her boyfriend, Alex Skeel, mercilessly. Skeel believes if they had not arrived, he would have died from his injuries. From the subsequent arrest came the story of a three-year pattern of physical and mental abuse against Skeel which included burning, cutting and beating him over the head. As Skeel revealed when the entire story went public, he never thought of leaving during the abusive relationship because he feared for the safety of the two children the couple had together. In 2018, Worth became the first female in the UK convicted of controlling, coercive behavior in a domestic violence situation.
Key takeaway: While certainly not as common as male-driven violence, female-perpetrated domestic violence is no less harmful or dangerous. An estimated 1 in 9 men become victims in the U.S. compared with 1 in 4 women), but the actual numbers of female-perpetrated violent incidents remain elusive because the men are far less likely to come forward. Another factor clouding the numbers are the incidents of same-sex abuse (some men are abused by their male partners, while in one survey, 44 percent of lesbian women reported being abused by their partners.
Reports of a Turning Tide
We conclude with a general roundup of reports of good news about the increasing awareness of the domestic violence epidemic, and steps being taken to make people safer around the world. Some quick “snapshots” of where/how things are improving:
- A growing number of nations across the globe are now passing stronger laws protecting domestic violence victims, especially women. This article from 2017 notes eight countries in particular that have taken huge strides forward in offering better protections.
- A recent protest in France (a country culturally known for its lackadaisical stance on sexism) drew tens of thousands of women into the streets to take a stand against domestic violence in their nation. The march prompted President Emmanuel Macron to publicly express his solidarity.
- The State of New York recently passed a set of bills that expand the state’s definition of domestic violence to include other forms of abuse such as larceny, coercion, identity theft, and economic abuse.
Key takeaway: Increasing public awareness of the widespread problem of domestic violence is having an effect. For the victims, the message is clear: Don’t be shamed into silence. Bringing the problem to light will make it better for all.
If you are currently facing an arrest or charges of domestic violence and need compassionate representation to help you navigate through the legal turmoil, we can help. Give our offices a call for a free case evaluation.