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A Love Letter To All The Victims of Femicide

Reluctant Feminist
1. A Love Letter To All The Victims of Femicide

As the annual tally of victims of femicide continues to climb, I was again saddened and shocked to hear of the gruesome murder of the beautiful young fashion model, Abby Choi in Hong Kong.

It was only a week or two ago that I posted my first YouTube video which discussed the idea that Emma Pattison and her young daughter were murdered by her jealous and, and apparently emasculated, husband.

When I hear these stories I am always inclined to stop and ask myself why. I have to say that, of course, I already know the tragic answer to that question. It is bifurcate: 1) For one of the following: money or power, and 2) because they can.

The Statistics on the Victims of Femicide

In the video I highlighted the statistics that surround Femicide. Daily 137 women around the world are murdered by a partner or a member of their family – 50, 000 women a year. Abby Choi is yet another.

It seems to be that simple. It seems that there is a global pandemic when it comes to the value of women and their lives. Admittedly, it is worse in some places than others. Brazil and Mexico for example have a very poor track record in the Latin American world.

In 2020 244 women were victims of femicide during the first 3 months of the year in Mexico according to the government. In another report the figures estimated that 10 women were slain each day in Mexico. Those statistics would make Mexico one of the most dangerous countries in the world for women. Further to the statistical details of overt violence against women in Mexico, additional women in the thousands have gone missing without a trace over recent years.

In 2019 in Brazil, an average of 4 women a day were killed, and in most cases the women had previously denounced their aggressors or suffered previous attacks. On a positive note, however, Brazil has implemented laws against femicide in recent years as, according to the United Nations, Latin America has the world’s highest rates of femicide.

In a recent study, there was one femicide every two days in Italy between 2006 and 2016, a total of 1,740 and an average of 174 a year. Up to a generation ago Italian law allowed for the motive of ‘jealousy’ in a man killing a woman sufficient grounds for him to receive a sentence as short at 3 years. Until as recently as 1981, the Italian law sanctioned leniency for male defendants who murdered women to preserve “family honour.”#

A far more detailed breakdown of the global statistics as of 2020 are available by The World Economic Forum as I referenced in my video below.

UK Specific Victims of Femicide

In a recent and country specific study undertaken by the Femicide Consensus in 2020 the authors cite the central issue in the safety of women as being violent, abusive and/or controlling men. They further note that there is a phenomenon known as the separation trigger, and that during the period of Coronavirus lockdowns this trigger was not activated as many women did not feel able to leave their abusers. They believe that it is this that saw a reduction of the number of femicides during that period.

Without delving too deeply into the statistical analysis for you, here is a neat snapshot of the findings in the report of that year:

UK Specific Victims of Femicide the Femicide Consensus in 2020 statistical infographic

They go on to report that sadly that there will be other women who have not been included in the statistics, where the killings of women have been hidden as disappearances, accidents or suicides but where, in reality, their lives were deliberately ended by men.

In a touching tribute to all the slain women and victims of domestic homicide they vow to continue the fight for women’s rights and safety.

We will not forget.
We will continue to commemorate.
We will not be silenced.
We will continue to fight to make visible the extent of men’s fatal
violence against women and to demand action from the state.

FEMICIDE CENSUS
Victims of femicide fashion model, Abby Choi in Hong Kong.

Remembering and Honouring the Victims of Femicide

There really isn’t anything that can be written or said to sufficiently repair the damage that is caused by the heartless killing of a woman, simply because she wasn’t behaving as you wanted her to. But one thing that words can achieve is to try to help other women avoid the same fate.

That is all I can hope to do here with my writing and videos on this issue. The best way that I know how to do that is to educate women on how to identify abuse and to get away from it, safely. As we touched on earlier, there are commonalities in cycles of abuse. I also highlighted this in the YouTube video I posted in which I told the viewers that actually, being a successful woman does impact her relationship in most cases.

We’ve been relying on the ‘crime of passion, spontaneous red-mist’ explanation [of killing] forever – and it’s just not true. If you start looking at all these cases, there’s planning, determination, there’s always coercive control.

Dr Monckton Smith

Further to that, there is an even more blatant 8 Step Timeline in Domestic Abuse Homicides. In a report published in 2018 by Dr Monckton Smith established an 8 stage timeline of events before a homicide takes place.

The summary of the report is as follows:

  1. A pre-relationship history of stalking or abuse by the perpetrator
  2. The romance develops quickly into a serious relationship
  3. The relationship becomes dominated by coercive control
  4. A trigger threatens the perpetrator’s control – for example, the relationship ends or the perpetrator gets into financial difficulty
  5. Escalation – an increase in the intensity or frequency of the partner’s control tactics, such as stalking or threatening suicide
  6. The perpetrator has a change in thinking – choosing to move on, either through revenge or by homicide
  7. Planning – the perpetrator might buy weapons or seek opportunities to get the victim alone
  8. Homicide – the perpetrator kills his or her partner and possibly hurts others such as the victim’s children

The only instance where a stage in the model was not followed was when men did not meet stage one – but this was normally because they had not previously had a relationship.

You can download the research in full here.

A Woman Should Just Leave, Then She Will Be Safe

It is not always the case that a woman’s safety increases after leaving an abusive partner. Research has shown that domestic abuse from an abusive intimate partner continues usually after separation. In fact, women who leave an abusive partner often report receiving more threats and harassment after the breakup. Furthermore, there is an increased risk of being murdered. According to the 2018 Femicide Census, 30% of the women who were slain by a current or former spouse died during the first month of their separation, and 70% died within the first year.

What we can take away from this terrifying statistic is that there needs to be a safe plan to leave that will protect the woman from harm. Unfortunately, this has to come in a form more secure than simply an Anti Violence Order (AVO) commonly known as a restraining order. As has been proven on thousands of occasions, an AVO isn’t bullet proof glass, and the deterrent of legal prosecution is not a deterrent at all to the bloodthirsty, vengeful abusive partner.

If There’s No Physical Violence it Can’t be That Bad

The eight-step chronology emphasises how crucial it is to take into account all forms of abuse rather than simply physical assault. While past physical abuse in a relationship is a reliable indicator of future attacks, individual acts of violence are much less likely to happen on their own and are more frequently a component of a pattern of persistently abusive and violent behaviour. It is crucial to include the complete spectrum of violence and abuse, including controlling behaviour and harassment, as seen in the eight stages.

The challenge for women and their support networks now is in identifying the abuse as abuse and not mis-labelling it as being the abusers personality or circumstances. If you are able to become aware that you are in an abusive relationship and you can identify the traits of abuse then you have an enormous advantage over the women who have fallen victim to femicide. you have the knowledge of how to handle your situation being mindful of not getting killed.

This infographic outlines the 10 categories of abuse that are often dismissed by the abuser as being responses to the woman’s behaviour. In December 2015, the behaviour known as coercive control—which outlines a pattern of behaviour by an abuser to hurt, punish, or intimidate their victim—became a crime. 95 out of 100 domestic abuse survivors reported having been subjected to coercive control, according to a 2014 study. Any of these behaviours could indicate that a relationship is utilising coercive control.

First – Make a Safety Plan

As I identified throughout this article, there is often a trigger point that tips the balance of a woman living in an abusive relationship and her getting murdered. Many times, this tipping point is the woman declaring that she is, or is planning on taking steps to leave the abuser. This is known as the separation trigger. For the abuser this means that his captive victim is slipping through his fingers and that she has awoken to the reality that he is – in fact – completely powerless.

This declaration of intentions is often the final straw for the abuser and it seems to be the most dangerous thing you can do if you are living in an abusive relationship. Instead, if you, or a woman you know are planning on leaving an abusive relationship, you need to follow this safe 4 stage exit plan:

Step 1: Prepare yourself emotionally

This can be done by finally allowing yourself to speak your truth by keeping a journal or similar personal log of the events. Words have power and sometimes, seeing or hearing the words that you know are your story add credence to your belief of your abuse story, It begins to deconstruct the world that the abuser has created for you – that you never truly felt was right. Part of doing this is the achievement of a key necessity in escaping an abusive partner – realisation that he won’t change. Another key element of this phase is preparing yourself to go through a process of grief.

In addition to this point, it is important to consider – identify a safe place in your home where you can safely retreat to if the abusive partner becomes violent or is triggered in some way. This can be the bathroom or any other room that has a lock on it. You also need to ensure that you have access to a phone in that location because you are going to need to immediately respond by calling for help. This can be directly to the police or to a close family member or friend with whom you have agreed a code-word. All you need to do is call or text this code word and the friend will do the rest.

Step 2: Lay the groundwork

In this phase, it is essential to do things to the tee. This is because this is when the action starts and you cannot let on at any time what your intentions are. This is due to the triggering that I mentioned earlier. Instead, once you have decided that you need to leave, don’t say a word to the abuser or to anyone who may relay the information back to the abuser such as his family or friends.

This includes ensuring that you do not leave a digital trail of your plans. For example if you are viewing rental properties and are getting emails about applications etc, if an abuser sees this when they check your phone or email account then the jig is up. Ensure that everything that you do is done on a device that you leave out of the house (a burner phone) or through a trusted family member or friend who also believes you should leave.

Before you leave, collect the essential stuff and put it somewhere safe. This could include your bank cards, your birth and marriage certificates, your kids’ birth certificates etc. If you can, even include anything personal that you want to ensure that you preserve after leaving, but, you cannot make it anything too obvious otherwise the cat will, again, be out of the bag.

Gather your army. You cannot do this alone. You are going to need a small and trusted group of people who are going to be able to assist you in your escape. If only for moral support or to help with the admin tasks of helping you to get out, like viewing rental properties, taking personal items for safekeeping or even taking the kids for a few days while you execute the plan.

Before you can take the final step and actually leave, you need a place to go. This can be the place of a family member or friend or, perhaps a better option in the short term, is an abuse shelter. This is for the key reason that you don’t want the abuser descending on your mum or sister’s house in a rage at both of you for having the audacity to leave him. This is when multiple murders take place and it isn’t necessary. Remember, he cannot kill you if he cannot find you.

Final step in this phase is – don’t slip back in. It is not uncommon for abusers to have a sixth sense when it comes to a victim empowering themselves to leave. This can be due to subtle changes in you disposition over the planning phase, not having the same emotional reactions that you once did, for example. Often, an abuser will respond to this by starting to do nice things and subtly entice you to stay by showing positive changes. But remember what we identified earlier in this plan, they will never change and this is simply a tool in their repertoire of abuse. Don’t fall for it.

Step 3: Get out fast

This is really a key step. The culmination of the planning. The best advice on this point is to pick a safe time, not the right time to leave. Pick a time when your partner is at work or out of the house visiting friends or family. Preferably, not when they are drinking, or taking other mood altering substances, as this can often impact their decision making processes when they discover your departure upon their return home.

Step 4: Once you’re out of the house

This phase is key in staying alive and I cannot stress this enough. Keep your whereabouts secret. As I said earlier, if he cannot find you, he cannot kill you. This will also involve having a discussion with the school for the kids, and explaining that 1) they will not be attending for a period due to this change in their lives, and 2) that the abuser is not allowed to collect the children anymore. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for an abuser to opt to harm the things that the woman loves, in the absence of being able to harm her directly. This can also include pets.

After this step has been fulfilled, ensure that you have an AVO in place. As I mentioned earlier, this is not a bullet proof barrier so having it alone won’t save your life. What it will do, however, is to ensure that there is a legal protection in place to prevent the abuser from challenging you for custody of your children etc. It is very common that the abuser will continue the coercive control over an ex partner after she has left and this includes seeking control of their children simply to inflict pain on her, not because he actually wants a relationship with the children.

Other than this, you simply need to be vigilant of an abuser and their potential. For example, there have been cases of a woman who did all these things but her ex-partner waited for her in the carpark of her work and killed her there. For that reason it is essential that you have a stringent plan for safety at all times, especially the first year after leaving an abuser. This could mean getting a lift to work with a colleague and not driving yourself alone, ensuring that the school and any childcare help understand the risks and ensure heightened safety practices.

I would also stress that it is important to avoid any antagonistic behaviours that could push an abuser to a trigger point. By this I mean, absolutely no new romantic partners, no flaunting money etc. It is also important to avoid contact with the in-law family members as it is common for the family of the ex-partner to murder the woman involved, as in the case of the beautiful Abby Choi who was slain by her father in law and brother in law.

While this article and list is not exhaustive, it is a good starting place. And it might just save you, or a woman that you love from being murdered – just for wanting to be happy.

For more content like this check out my other posts on Femspiration here.

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Jessie LV

Jessie LV is a professional writer in a wide array of genres including content writing, professional writing and creative writing. She foundered Donc Voilà Quoi while living in Tours, France in 2015 when she fell in love with the phrase. When she isn't writing you'll find her out and about in nature, watching whodunit's or cooking up a storm. For writing inquiries please email on doncvoilaquoi@gmail.com.

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