Victim blaming 101

Cross posted

Gregory Meads murdered Helen Meads just four days after she said she was going to leave their marriage. Now that he has been convicted by a jury, some more information has been released. It turns out that he beat her savagely about 18 months before he killed her.

The details are in this newspaper report, and they are horrifying. The report is *triggering*.

What the Meads jury didn’t hear

But it seems that at least one police office thinks that it’s Helen Meads fault.

Detective Sergeant Rod Carpinter, the officer in charge of the murder investigation, said the case highlighted the need for people to seek help from police, Women’s Refuge or another organisation help before family violence escalated.

“Here we have a woman who has lost her life, children left without their mother and their father facing a long term of imprisonment.”

Dude, it highlights the need for Gregory Meads to stop being a violent arsehole. Gregory Meads was the man who threw the punches, Gregory Meads was the man who pulled the trigger, Gregory Meads is the man who is responsible for Helen Meads being dead, for the children being without their mother, and for their father (that would be Gregory Meads) being in jail.

Maybe it also highlights the need for police to press assault charges a little harder. I really don’t understand why Gregory Mead’s assault on Helen Meads was not prosecuted in the first place. If police had taken their responsibilities seriously, maybe Helen Meads would still be alive, and her children would still have their mother.

Enough with the victim blaming.


12 responses to “Victim blaming 101

  1. And so say all of us!

  2. Deborah, it’s not clear from the article whether the initial assault was reported to police. If there’s no complaint, or if the complaint is withdrawn, then their hands are tied.

    A copper I know well finds the whole DV thing incredibly frustrating; he understands perfectly why women stay with or go back to violent partners, don’t make complaints or do make them and then withdraw them, but the cops have very clearly delineated powers regarding what they can or can’t do in those situations.

  3. That’s not quite the case in NZ law. From the NZ Women’s Refuge web site:

    Police will decide whether an offence has been committed and whether to charge the violent person. It is not up to the victim of the crime to “press charges”. Police must gather their own evidence and lay charges as they do with any other serious crime. You can choose to make a statement, or not, or even choose to withdraw the statement, but that does not necessarily mean the Police will drop charges.

  4. In NSW, at least, and possibly in other Australian states, the decision is also that of the police.

    However, if a complaint is withdrawn, it usually means the complainant is reluctant to give evidence. Not a great look to compel a witness to give evidence when she or he is clearly somewhat vulnerable. There’s also the risk you won’t get all of the evidence out of them. I imagine that this also means that the withdrawal of a complaint in NZ would have a similar effect.

    Plus I think that a lot of the time, the police are likely to not press charges if the complainant withdraws a complaint. This may be because the police don’t realise they actually have the power to make the decision (you may or may not be surprised to know that the police often don’t know the law all that well), or it may be because of a residual (and maybe unconscious and unspoken) attitude that domestic violence is essentially domestic and if the complainant doesn’t want to go ahead, well, what business is it of the police? There may also be some misogyny involved (whether of the “well, she doesn’t want to press charges, so you know what that means …” or another type).

  5. Also, echoing those above me, I know if I was a police officer I would be seriosly worried that continuing to investergate when a complaint has been withdrawn might put the victim in even more danger.

  6. The shooting came four days after Mrs Meads announced plans to end her 12-year marriage.

    Mr White, said he and his wife urged their daughter to leave Meads after the assault in August 2008.

    “Helen had wanted to leave the marriage but was scared of the repercussions.

    One of the most dangerous things an abused woman can do is to leave the abusing partner, or flag that she’s planning to leave. This is when you get the homicides, and people say “why doesn’t she just leave?”

  7. I’m not sure if the officer is blaming Helen or Helen’s family and friends. The article says Helen’s parents moved closer to support her when they learned she was being abused. I have never been in that situation, so I can’t be sure how I would really react, but it seems to me if your daughter is in danger you don’t move closer to support her you get her the f*** out of the situation. By whatever means necessary. I think the officer’s statement is tasteless and inappropriate, but I’m sure he is bitter and defensive about his / the police force’s failure to prevent this murder.

  8. it seems to me if your daughter is in danger you don’t move closer to support her you get her the f*** out of the situation.

    But in this society, a grandmother removing her daughter and grandchildren from a marriage would appear pretty bizarre. They’re not expected to have that kind of power.

  9. Why don’t they ask why shouldn’t have shot her rather than why she didn’t leave?

  10. The case highlights the need for men to undergo good relationship education before they leave school, for people to stop blaming victims of domestic violence, for people to stop sympathising with men who abuse, and for people to step in when they notice something is off (like in the ads, by talking to the abuser (does this help?)).

  11. I am a close friend of Helen’s sister and have heard alot about Meads. He was a control freak no doubt about that. It took Helen a long time to make the decision to leave I believe its because love is a crazy thing and justification is a big part and self blame even though she wasn’t at fault in any way. It’s always easier to judge when you are on the outside looking in. Nobody expected him to kill her simple really otherwise I am quite sure her parents would have helped her escape before it happened. To blame David and Pam for not taking her away is crazy. Helen quite possibly down played the situation to prevent her parents stressing too much over something she thought she could possibly change, hence why they moved closer for support. Greg is the only person to blame for her death NO ONE else is and can be held accountable for that. Why is it not an eye for an eye like the bible says? Who pays for him to be inside?? The victims do. This guy is filthy rich why can he not be forced to pay for his own stay?? When he gets out of jail he will still have his precious money while David and Pam and the White family still have no daughter called Helen anymore thanks to Greg Meads. Its about time we stop pointing fingers at the wrong people and make the guilty truly accountable for their actions the only label he deserves is MURDERER. Greg may God have no mercy on your soul.

  12. and the waikato times editorial, while much better than police comment, continues to be problematic:

    And yet our abusive culture is deeply embedded and people like Helen Meads still die. In her case it was sickening to witness attempts made during the trial to portray the Meads’ relationship as a loving one – however it started out, it had become far from that. Helen Meads was right in wanting to get out and her husband’s response was monstrously wrong.

    Although her intention to escape ended tragically, that must not alter the message to others in a similar position that the best thing they can do is leave.

    the focus continues to be on the victim, and not on the abuser.