Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The sound of violence

We have a family living in the apartment above us. Husband, wife, and a baby about 3 months old. Last night I sat in my living room and listened to the husband try to kill his wife. There was a lot of deep voiced yelling, a lot of high-pitched wailing and shouting, and every so often a frantic baby cry.

I was surprised how little the baby cried.

A lot of ornaments were smashed on the floor above my head.

There was a lot of bashing and thumping. I'm reasonably sure he was slamming her against the wall.

The police arrived about ten minutes after we called them - they went up the stairs, spoke to the guy, and left five minutes later after giving him a warning for disturbing the peace.

The wife didn't want to report him. She did not want to be taken to the refuge.

I went to bed. Today their has been a lot of vacuuming.

I don't know what to think about this. I hate the guy. Hate him. How can he live with himself? How can he do this? I don't get it. I mean in a way I can imagine a couple getting in a huge fight and one of them going for the other - but this sounded more along the lines of a systematic beating. What the fuck - how does anyone have the mindset, the complete lack of control to do this? I know it happens a lot, but I don't think it's normal, and I don't see why it happens. It just shouldn't.

I feel like I should comment on why the woman didn't leave, what that means in respect to Turkey. First Turkey is big, what happens on one side of the country may be dealt with completely differently on the other side. So in my small corner of the country, oftentimes if the woman does report it, a common phenomenon seems to be the husband is arrested, gets out the next day, comes home and beats his wife worse.  I've seen two local news stories recently, one about a foreign woman killed by her boyfriend, the other a father scared for his daughter's life begging the police to protect her. These stories and the 'One billion rising' movement which was well represented in my town, has been increasing pressure on the police to do something about domestic violence.

It's not like the laws in Turkey are that bad this well researched report answers a lot of questions (if you have them,) and it's nice to know a rapist can no longer get out of his conviction by marrying his victim. But here's the thing, woman are still second class here. It is an insult to say someone is "like a woman." People are surprised when women do well. Technically they can become anything they want, but mostly they don't. There is sexism everywhere, and you know what? it's infectious. I feel like I need protecting here. Like I am vulnerable. I didn't in London, I did what I wanted, when I wanted. But here where the population is about 100th of London - I am scared. I don't go out by myself at night. Even during the day I don't answer the door when I am alone. In truth I have allowed myself to become more helpless. My husband and I have split the chores we do and none of mine are outside the house - I can live in a bubble if I want.

How did I get here... why do women allow themselves to be controlled, to stay when things are bad. If my husband turned suddenly violent I would leave him, and I would call his parents and they would be on my side. But I have options, I am financially independent. If he 'came back the next day' there are places I could run and hide, I could go to a completely different continent to him and never be heard from again if I wanted. Most of the other women, the one in three who experience domestic violence don't have these options. There is no nanny state to fall back on. Destitute is a real thing, and a mighty frightening thing to choose not just for yourself but yourself and your children. I guess in the end maybe a lot of times it is easier to choose to stay than to walk away and try and make a life alone.

UPDATE : the neighbours have moved out - their landlord didn't appreciate having his furniture smashed. Before they left the wife angrily confronted my husband wanting to know why he had called the police - "to stop you being killed" didn't seem to satisfy her as an answer.

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