I ask the statisticians to count Us. To count how many of Us have kept silent all these years, encouraging Him to think of us as allies, disabling Her from crying for help. Those are the stats I am interested in.
It would be easy to find the statistics on the number of murdered, raped, beaten women since the beginning of the year until now.
We could compare this data to last year’s, the year before, and the year before that, and draw some conclusions.
We could even calculate the timeline of days (or is it hours?) each violent crime over a women is committed by her husband, boyfriend, lover…
We are not doing any of that now, because as frightening as the numbers are, as devastating the statistics, the numbers are blurring our vision of Him.
Because, let’s be honest, it is almost always Him.
Man, husband, father, very often a reputable neighbour, reliable at work, well-loved in his friend group, a family man, traditionalist, although a little irritable and “off” after he’s had a few.
To the public, an honourable man. A bully in private.
Honest and decent among friends, violent at home.
Kind to everyone else, Her Executioner.
That is Her privilege, her exclusive right to be the woman of a headsman. It is also a commitment, to keep this honour embodied (heh, “embodied”) in bruises, cuts, and wounds, to herself, never to share it, because – what will they all say?
Especially in a small town. Momentary embarrassment.
And beating Her won’t be His embarrassment. He is the man, after all.
It will be Her embarrassment. He wouldn’t be beating her if she were good.
What was it, ‘lady in the streets, a whore in the sheets’?
Well, you know what, she must have failed somewhere, he wouldn’t just do it.
The world can be cruel, and sometimes putting up with the hits is less painful to Her. She can keep her dignity, at least to the outside world.
And the headsman is counting on that. He knows that the victim will stay silent, what else is she to do?
She is valuable to him, although he walks all over her.
She is valuable because where else, other than the intimate space of domestic violence, would he be able to have the upper hand?
He, a coward in front of everyone but Her.
He, who is unafraid only after he’s had a few and hit her; after sobering up, he is afraid that She would denounce him, leave him. So, he pretends to be good, showers her with attention, maybe even a gift, although the greatest gift is that he is not beating her. It is true love, really, at least until the next beating, or until he murders her.
The public is empathetic.
It is traditional for a man to ‘thwack’ every once in a while.
‘She’s a woman, she has to listen’.
‘What is she dressing up for anyway?’ ‘He loved her a whole lot’
Every good medium can read the room and follow the audience’s taste, and then form their headlines.
The Executioner isn’t an executioner, he is a ‘disappointed husband’. A heinous crime is a ‘tragic love story’, and cowardly, damned, worthless, bullying piece of shit isn’t that, but ‘we knew them as kind and honest people’.
Them?! Not him, the bastard. Them?!
And after everything she had put up with during her lifetime, She is often post-mortem raped in the media.
‘Unbelievable, we knew them as such honest people, what happened to them that he killed her and then took his own life?’
It would be easy to find the data on the number of headlines relativising crime in the past year.
Headlines transforming heinous crimes into exciting serialised stories, family soap operas, after-lunch reality content…
Instead of this data, let’s focus on Us.
Us, who are silent at curses, hits, and cries from the neighbourhood, minding our own business.
Us, who would rather declare her an immoral woman, than Him a bully.
Us, who would never, will still take it to social media and crucify Her for saying so-and-so.
No, we didn’t know them as good and honest people. Something was always fishy about him, and we knew that it was only a matter of time before he has one too many, blacks out, and she dies.
We knew and we were silent.
I ask the statisticians to count Us. To count how many of Us have kept silent all these years, encouraging Him to find allies in us, disabling Her from crying for help. Those are the stats I am interested in.