Thursday, May 28, 2009

Emotional Violence

Calling your wife ugly to humiliate her may soon be considered an offence under proposed amendments to the Domestic Violence Act 1994. [The Star]

I wonder if there is any provision in that Act to protect men when their wives call them ugly to humiliate them.

A couple of weeks ago, it was reported that husbands get physically abused too. Many years ago when I just got married, I got my share of "physical abuse" from Mia. For reasons which I can't really remember now, the earlier years were quite rough for us. And whenever Mia got angry she had the lousy habit of hitting me. I don't know if that had anything to do with the few years of Tae Kwon Do before she married me. To be very honest, when she punched me on my upper arm repeatedly, it wasn't that painful at all, especially since I did quite a lot of weights at the gym back then. So I'd let her continue doing her thing.

But after a while, when it happened too frequently, I began to dislike that lousy habit of hers. As she kept doing it, I became increasingly sick of it. At times, I was just at the verge of striking back.

Then one day, after one of those "physical abuse" sessions from Mia, I let her cool down and then we had a serious talk together. I told her to please do something about her lousy habit. It's not so much that I couldn't take the physical pain; rather, I couldn't say how much longer I could have the patience with her. I told her that one of these days, I might just lose it all—that I might strike back. And if that should happen, she'd most probably end up in the hospital. After that, Mia has been able to control herself up to now—there's never been another episode of the "physical abuse" thing from her. I didn't think that I had it in me to actually hit her back, but y'know, anger can make you do things you wouldn't dream of ever doing.

Anyway, the point I'm trying to make is that we always have laws meant to protect women from physical abuse. And now it's gonna be extended to "emotional violence" too. It is easily forgotten that some women are also violent in nature. Laws should be enacted for the benefits of both genders; not only women.

Mia has never called me ugly so far, and if ever she did, I'd probably laugh out loud. But I can imagine some men may be more sensitive to the word "ugly", and the proposed law should also protect them.

But frankly, I foresee an uphill task to enforce the proposed law. What if a husband tells his wife that she's ugly not because he means to humiliate her, but merely because he's telling her the truth? But she feels humiliated anyway? Is that grounds for a legal action?

And who dares to enforce the law on people with power; say the Prime Minister of Malaysia? Imagine that the Prime Minister suddenly decides to have an honest conversation with his wife:

'Yang, you are still as beautiful as at the time when I married you all those years ago. But is it entirely necessary that your hair is that huge?

Or something like that. It's a very honest comment, and with no intention to humiliate. Yet what if the wife interprets that as a humiliation? Police report will be lodged (lodging police reports is a favourite pastime in Malaysia) and then no one will dare to do anything about it.

I think it's a good idea to enact a statute to protect people from physical and emotional abuses, but the benefits of that law should be for both genders; and there is only meaning to that statute if it is enforceable.


Anonymous said...

I think you are kind of missing the point, actually. When we say something to our spouse, like, "hun, do you have to wear that?" or, "that is ugly", then of course it would be extreme to consider that emotional abuse, that is just two people interacting.. Along with that, you yourself explained the situation perfectly.. When she hit you, it was annoying, if you hit her, she will be in the hospital.... So, does this not give more reason to have laws that protect women?

Emotional abuse is when a person repeatedly says things with malicious intent, with the purpose of cutting that other person down, killing their self esteem, and controlling their minds... It also sets them up to accept physical abuse, thinking that it is all somehow their fault.

A woman does this just as well as a man, an abuser is an abuser, it doesn't matter the gender, but let's also look at the facts.. 98% of domestic abuse cases are man on woman. Does this make the 2% of men who are abused insignificant? No! Of course not, but it does explain why laws are made that are geared more towards women. Violence against women is a huge problem, in every country, and I support any law that is passed that tries to help women find an easier way to leave a violent situation. This includes emotional violence.

Anonymous said...

P.S. Sorry, but just to add, I totally agree that laws passed about domestic abuse should include both genders, otherwise we are leaving out men and telling them they cannot be abused, which is bullshit.

Cornelius said...

How do we define "extreme"? What's extreme to you may not be extreme to me at all. "That is ugly" may be extreme to some women.

If we don't have a clear understanding of what amounts to "emotional violence", then the statute is open to many different interpretations. And it won't be the first that it's happened in the legal system. Otherwise the Malaysian judges wouldn't have arrived at different conclusions on who's the rightful Mentri Besar of Perak.

No, I'm not missing the point, Sarah. I am well aware that the result of physical abuse would usually be more serious on women; and I do understand that that's why the focus is on protecting them rather than men. What I'm saying is merely that the law should protect both genders. I'm just wondering if there's any provisions in the proposed statute to protect men, because there is no mention of it in the news report.

One of these days, a woman karate expert is bound to beat up her husband and perhaps break a few of his bones. And it will be a big joke if the husband has no legal redress because it's not provided in the statute - since he's only a negligible 2% of physical abuse cases.

Anonymous said...

Touche' =)

anti feminist said...

All these western concepts. tired of women complaining about every single thing. This no fair that not fair. Since when is life fair anyway. Don't use the law to fight for you, stand up for yourself. (Oh! Sorry you can't because you are weak, I forgot)

Next they will say you cannot say they are beautiful too cus that will imply that we only see them as sex object.

Very "mafana" this weaker sex.