Non-fatal strangulation to be criminalized in England and Wales

Non-fatal strangulation is slated to become a criminal offense in England and Wales, carrying a sentence of up to seven years in prison. The expansion of the UK’s cutting edge domestic abuse bill to include non-fatal strangulation will close a gaping legal loophole that has enabled perpetrators of intimate partner abuse and domestic homicide to escape justice – until now. 

The initiative to amend the Domestic Abuse Bill and criminalize non-fatal strangulation was led by the Center For Women’s Justice, who met with Justice Secretary and Lord High Chancellor Robert Buckland.

Nogah Ofer, a solicitor at the Centre for Women’s Justice, said, “It is time that as a society we stopped normalizing and ignoring [non-fatal] strangulation.

“The vast majority of these crimes are committed against women,” the Lord Chancellor told the BBC, “They are often a precursor to even more serious violence.”

What is non-fatal strangulation?

Non-fatal strangulation is compression on the neck to seriously obstruct respiration and cause harm, but not death. It is an antecedent to gender-based homicide. The Femicide Census reports that a woman is killed by a man every three days in the UK.

The practice is different from so-called erotic asphyxiation because it is:

  • Non-consensual.
  • Intended to cause harm and induce fear.
  • Occurs in the context of abusive power and control.

Why is non-fatal strangulation a gendered crime? 

Non-fatal strangulation affects 10 times as many women as men, making it a gendered form of intimate partner violence.

According to a 2019 report from the Office for National Statistics:

“Around one in six (17%) of female victims were killed by strangulation, asphyxiation, this was the second most common method of killing for female victims. In contrast, a much smaller proportion (3%) of male victims were killed in this way.”

What is femicide?

Femicide is a term that describes the killing of females by males because of their gender. Diana Russell coined the term in 1974. It is the principal cause of premature death for women globally.

Domestic Abuse in the UK in numbers

In 2019, some 2.4 million adults in the UK were targets of domestic abuse:

  • 1.6 million women
  • 786,000 men

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the incidence of domestic abuse has skyrocketed, creating a ‘pandemic within a pandemic’

“Domestic abuse is an abhorrent crime perpetrated on victims and their families by those who should love and care for them,” says Victoria Atkins MP, Minister for Safeguarding.

The socio-economic cost of domestic abuse in England and Wales is estimated to be a staggering £66 billion

Women usually experience approximately 50 episodes of intimate partner violence before they report.

References

Photo by Leighann Blackwood

Dylan Farrow’s Statement on Episode 2 of Allen v Farrow

For three decades powerful people have spoken for and spoken over Dylan Farrow, silencing her voice and robbing her of the opportunity to tell her story in her own words. Despite relentless and public gaslighting from people who ought to have protected her, she has never wavered in her testimony.

Tonight Episode 2 of the documentary miniseries Allen v Farrow will air on HBO. It features disturbing audiovisual footage of 7-year-old Dylan disclosing the abuse she allegedly suffered at the hands of her father in 1992. Dylan Farrow reminds us that in the post #MeToo era, it is important to create safe spaces for survivors of sexual abuse to tell their stories.

Dylan Farrow’s Statement on Episode 2 of ‘Allen v Farrow’

Today, Dylan Farrow posted the following statement on Twitter:

“I’m writing this because to be totally honest I have been losing sleep and overcome with anxiety. Tonight’s episode of Allen v. Farrow docuseries features a video of me as a seven-year-old child disclosing my abuse to my mother.

“My mother gave me this video when I became an adult to do whatever I wanted with it.

“It shows me as I was then, a young, vulnerable child. “Little Dylan,” whom I’ve tried since to protect.

“Deciding to allow this tape to be viewed now publicly in this way has not been easy. I myself had resisted ever watching it until now. It had been long stored away in a closet. Scared. Buried.

“I almost didn’t offer it to the filmmakers, because being this vulnerable in public is absolutely terrifying for me. My fear in letting this tape come to light is that I am putting Little Dylan in the court of public opinion.

While I have been able to take the stones thrown at me as an adult, to think of that happening t this little girl is stomach-churning. But I decided to let them share in the hopes that Little Dylan’s voice might now help others suffering in silence feel heard, understood, and less alone. And that my testimony might also help parents, relatives, friends, loved ones, and the world, in general, understand first-hand how an abused child might speak and interpret these horrific events.

“There is a third reason as well.

“Personally, I had for decades pushed “Little Dylan” away as a coping mechanism. So part of my goal in allowing her to now speak is also to try and find some healing for me and my childhood self. It’s an attempt to make them whole again, and find some peace and closure.

“Ever since news of her abuse was inadvertently made public, I, my siblings, and my mother have all been subjected to an endless barrage of vitriolic slander and baseless rebuke; derision so painful that I separated myself from her in self-defense. I hid her away in a closet with the tape too – hidden, afraid, sad, and hurt.

“If you watch this video, I very much hope you will do so with empathy, compassion, and an open mind and heart and not use this as an opportunity to attack, turn away, criticize, mock; or to further shun “Little Dylan” and in doing so shame and silence the millions of abused children who are suffering in the world today. This is the most vulnerable part of who I am.

“I hope this tape helps us all find ways to allow painful secrets to come safely out of their closets so we can all heal and move forward in strength and peace. No longer ashamed, buried, scared, sad, and silent.

“To all other survivors, please know that your truth is valid and there are those who will listen. RAINN is always available at 800-656-4673.”

References

  • Farrow, Dylan. (2017) Official Twitter, Twitter.com. Retrieved February 28, 2021.

Photo by Erik Mclean.


Confidential support is available 24/7/365 to anyone experiencing abuse.
In the USA call 1-800-799-7233 or log on to thehotline.org.
In the UK call 0808 2000 247 or log on to nationaldahelpline.org.uk.


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Gérard Depardieu Charged with Rape and Sexual Assault

Gérard Depardieu, 72, has been charged with rape and sexual assault of a 22-year-old colleague.

His attorney, Hervé Temime, told AFP on Tuesday that the French actor, “completely rejects the accusations.”

The alleged sexual assault and rape took place at one of Depardieu’s homes in Paris on August 7 and August 13, 2018, while they were rehearsing a scene from a theatre play at his home in Paris.

“The actress told police she had been assaulted by the actor twice this month at Depardieu’s home in Paris.”

The accuser knew Depardieu before the alleged attacks took place. According to a source close to the case, he is a friend of her family.

Her agent to French digital news service BFMTV that she is “devastated” by the alleged attacks. 

Depardieu’s attorney responded with the statement, “I had a long meeting with Gérard Depardieu and I am absolutely convinced that his innocence will be established.” 

There’s really no such thing as rape. It’s only a matter of a girl putting herself in a situation where she wants to be. Violence isn’t committed by those who do the act but by the victims, the ones who permit it to happen.

Gérard Depardieu

French prosecutors dropped the investigation in 2019

Investigations into the rape and sexual assault allegations against Gérard Depardieu were dropped by French prosecutors, who issued the following statement, “A number of investigations undertaken as part of this procedure have not enabled us to characterize the crimes alleged in all of their individual parts.”

The case was reopened last year and Depardieu was charged on December 16, 2020. He is currently free but under judicial supervision.

Depardieu claims to have “had plenty of rapes”

In an excerpt from a 1978 interview with Film Comment magazine, Depardieu admitted that he was a rapist:

“It was my pal Jackie – he was sixteen or seventeen – who took me along on my first rape.” 

He pauses, then adds as an afterthought, “He’s dead now, Jackie.” 

The incident occurred, Depardieu adds nonchalantly, in a bus depot; the girl, a brunette in her early twenties, was waiting for a bus when the teenager and the nine-year-old began teasing her.

“One thing led to another and, hup!!” – Depardieu suddenly rises halfway out of his chair, like an animal bounding after prey – “that was that.” He pauses. “It was normal. After that, I had plenty of rapes, too many to count.”

Depardieu returns to his chair and glances at the faces around him. He is surprised to note that they are registering something like horror. 

“There was nothing wrong with it,” he explains. “The girls wanted to be raped. I mean, there’s really no such thing as rape. It’s only a matter of a girl putting herself in a situation where she wants to be. Violence isn’t committed by those who do the act but by the victims, the ones who permit it to happen.”

In a taped interview with Time Magazine, journalist Richard Corliss asked Depardieu if he had committed rapes, and he replied, “Yes, but it was absolutely normal in those circumstances. That was part of my childhood.”

Depardieu denied making the statements after the fact. Instead, he qualified his previous statements, saying, “It is perhaps accurate to say that I had sexual experiences at an early age. But rape – never. I respect women too much.” 

The interview with Time was recorded in French and Depardieu’s lawyers argued that his statement was poorly translated, that he had not participated in but witnessed multiple rapes.

Time Magazine refused to retract the interview.

Who is Gérard Depardieu?

Gérard Depardieu is a lionized figure and widely regarded as one of the greatest actors in French cinema. He made his film debut in 1973 in the film Les Valseuses (Going Places).

The Oscar nominee has appeared in 170 films, including Green Card and Cyrano de Bergerac. However, he did not attend the Oscar’s ceremony due to public outrage over his admission of multiple rapes during his youth.

Photo: Siebbi

References

Editors (2021, February 23) ‘French actor Gérard Depardieu charged with rape.’ France 24. Retrieved February 22, 2021.

Zoglin, Richaed. (2001, June 24) L’Affaire Gérard Depardieu. Time Magazine. Retrieved February 22, 2021.

Mann, Judy. (1991, March 20) How Do We Handle The Rapist Turned Heartthrob? The Washington Post. Retrieved February 22, 2021.


Confidential support is available 24/7/365 to anyone experiencing abuse.
In the USA call 1-800-799-7233 or log on to thehotline.org.
In the UK call 0808 2000 247 or log on to nationaldahelpline.org.uk.


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FKA Twigs Opens Up To Gayle King on CBS This Morning

FKA twigs opened up to journalist Gayle King on CBS This Morning about the alleged abuse she suffered at the hands of actor Shia LaBoeuf. In her first television interview since taking legal action against him in December 2020, the Grammy nominee also took the opportunity to name and define some of the common behaviors of perpetrators of domestic abuse.

With California’s new coercive control legislation in force as of January 1, 2021, twigs’ lawsuit against LaBoeuf may set an important new precedent as California is the second state in the USA to criminalize coercive control.

In the claim she filed with the Los Angeles Superior Court, twigs (born Tahliah Debrett Barnett) describes LaBeouf as “a danger to women,” who kept her “in a constant state of fear.”

She describes experiencing an ongoing pattern of abuse in her relationship with LaBoeuf that included verbal, emotional, physical abuse, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Specifically:

  • Non-fatal strangulation
  • Sexual assault
  • Sexual battery, and
  • Infecting her with a sexually transmitted disease.

On February 12, 2021 LaBoeuf’s legal team issued a statement that the actor denies “generally and specifically each and every allegation.”

His behavior became gradually more and more abusive.”

FKA twigs

FKA twigs is now speaking out in the hope of helping others spot the signs of domestic abuse in intimate relationships and, most importantly, for survivors to know that they are not alone.

Knowledge is Power

Once twigs understood that the harms that were allegedly inflicted on her by LaBoeuf were intentional, she reached out to Sistah Space, a London based service specialized in supporting abuse survivors of African heritage.

She started to learn about the manipulation tactics used by perpetrators of coercive control and developed an awareness about the attitudes that drive these destructive behaviors.

Empowered with new knowledge, twigs was able to escape and begin the healing process.

She shared that, in retrospect, the relationship had red flags from the very start. She described some of them to Gayle King in the interview.

https://www.narcissisticabuserehab.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/cyclenarcissisticabuse.mp4

Boundary violation disguised as romantic gestures

“In the beginning he would jump over the fence where I was staying and leave flowers outside my door and poems and books.” twigs told King, “And I thought it was very romantic, but that quickly changed. I understand now that that’s testing your boundaries. But it didn’t stop there, you know. His behavior became gradually more and more abusive.”

Love bombing and devaluation

She also described her experience of the idealization or love bombing phase of the cycle of abuse to King, as LaBoeuf “putting me on a pedestal, telling me that I was amazing, over the top displays of affection just to knock me off the pedestal, to tell me that I was worthless, to criticize me, to berate me, you know. Pick me apart.”

Learn more about love bombing in our interview with Harvard trained psychotherapist Madelaine Claire Weiss.

Gaslighting

“Abusers use gaslighting,” said twigs, wringing her small hands and taking a deep breath before she continued, “Which is where somebody minimizes your experience. It’s, like, altering your narrative and not listening to you, and denying your experience.”

Battery

“Eventually, it did become physical,” she said softly, dropping her gaze for a instant before lifting her eyes to meet King’s stare, before bravely giving a detailed account of how her relationship with LaBoeuf spiraled into violence.

Summary

There are many important lessons to be learned from FKA twigs about domestic abuse that may dispel the manifold myths that form the loopholes that help perpetrators evade justice. The reality is that because of its systemic nature, domestic abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of financial status, fame, education, or social standing.

Watch Gayle King’s full interview with FKA twigs below.

Watch Gayle King’s interview with FKA twigs


Confidential support is available 24/7/365 to anyone experiencing abuse.
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In the UK call 0808 2000 247 or log on to nationaldahelpline.org.uk.


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Justin Timberlake: “I want to take accountability.”

Justin Timberlake has made a public apology to Britney Spears and Janet Jackson in the aftermath of the release of The New York Times Presents Framing Britney Spears on Hulu

The documentary highlights the glaring misogyny that shaped the narrative of Spears and Timberlake’s breakup in 2002.

Background of Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears

Timberlake is being criticized for smearing and slut-shaming Spears with accusations of infidelity and disclosing intimate details about their sexual relationship in the media. He is also being rebuked for profiting from the sexist narrative he promoted about Britney Spears by releasing the song and video Cry Me A River. 

In addition to this, the Hulu documentary details the impact of Timberlake’s actions on Spears’ reputation, career, and mental health.

Background of Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson

Discussion of the documentary on social media also led to revisiting the 2004 Super Bowl XXXVIII half time show on CBS, during which Timberlake exposed Janet Jackson’s breast during a live CBS broadcast to an audience of 143.6 million viewers. 

CBS parent company Viacom urged Jackson and Timberlake to issue public apologies. Nevertheless, an exercise in misogynoir ensued. Jackson alone was blamed for the incident and Timberlake remained silent as she was publicly denounced and shunned.

Viacom CEO Les Moonves targeted Jackson and had all of her music and videos blacklisted on MTV, CBS, and its radio stations. Jackson was also disinvited from the 46th Grammy Awards and dropped from the starring role in a movie. Promotion of her eighth studio album Damita Jo ceased.

Scores of CBS employees disclosed to the LA Times that the Moonves created a culture of racism, misogyny, and abuse. In July 2018, Ronan Farrow reported that six women accused Moonves of sexual harassment, threats, and intimidation. The CBS board opened an inquiry into Moonves’s conduct and, despite his attempts to obstruct the investigation, found the witnesses to be credible. Moonves was fired.

Justin Timberlake’s Statement in Full

“I’ve seen the messages, tags, comments, and concerns and I want to respond. I am deeply sorry for the times in my life where my actions contributed to the problem, where I spoke out of turn, or did not speak up for what was right. I understand that I fell short in these moments and in many others and benefited from a system that condones misogyny and racism.

“I specifically want to apologise to Britney Spears and Janet Jackson both individually, because I care for and respect these women and I know I failed. I also feel compelled to respond, in part, because everyone involved deserves better and most importantly, because this is a larger conversation that I wholeheartedly want to be part of and grow from.

“The industry is flawed. It sets men, especially white men, up for success. It’s designed this way. As a man in a privileged position I have to be vocal about this. Because of my ignorance, I didn’t recognize it for all that it was while it was happening in my own life but I do not want to ever benefit from others being pulled down again. 

“I have not been perfect in navigating all of this throughout my career. I know this apology is a first step and doesn’t absolve the past. I want to take accountability for my own missteps in all of this as well as be part of a world that uplifts and supports. I care deeply about the wellbeing of the people I love and have loved. I can do better and I will do better.”

Photo by Drew de Fawkes.


Confidential support is available 24/7/365 to anyone experiencing abuse.
In the USA call 1-800-799-7233 or log on to thehotline.org.
In the UK call 0808 2000 247 or log on to nationaldahelpline.org.uk.


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California Passes Coercive Control Bill

On September 29, 2020, California became the second state in the USA to adopt coercive control legislation. State Senator Susan Rubio‘s Coercive Control Bill was signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom.

“I thank Governor Newsom for signing this bill. My hope is that it empowers victims to come forward, and it becomes something that our society understands and recognizes as domestic violence,” said Senator Susan Rubio (D-Baldwin Park). “I’m grateful to be at the forefront of such groundbreaking domestic violence policy, and I look forward to working with my partners and allies to spread coercive control legislation across the nation.”

What is Senate Bill 1141 Domestic Violence: Coercive Control?

The new bill is an amendment to California’s existing Family Code for domestic violence prevention. Formally known as Senate Bill 1141 Domestic Violence: Coercive Controlit allows survivors to include incidents of coercive and controlling behavior as supporting evidence in family court hearings and criminal trials.

“This legislation will help empower survivors of crime and abuse to speak out against their abusers and provide them more time to seek justice,” said Governor Newsom. “California is committed to protecting survivors and supporting them and the organizations that provide them with essential services, especially during this challenging time.”

“SB 1141 advances the rights of domestic violence victims under state law,” said Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer. “My office was proud to sponsor the legislation, and I thank the Governor for signing the bill.”

How does California Define Coercive Control?

This bill defines coercive control as “a pattern of behavior that unreasonably interferes with a person’s free will and personal liberty,” and recognizes it as a regime of oppression that includes isolating the recipient of the abuse from their support system, threats, and harassment.

Psychological abuse

The bill also defines coercive control as “disturbing the peace of the other party” and highlights that the coercive and controlling behavior “destroys the mental or emotional calm of another person.”

Child Custody

incidents of coercive control can be used as evidence of domestic violence when arranging child custody in family court. Custody of children will not be awarded to a parent who is proven to be a perpetrator or coercive control campaign against a current or former partner or spouse.

How will coercive control perpetrators be held accountable?

California’s new coercive control bill authorizes the court to issue ex parte orders to stop perpetrators of coercive control from abusing their current or former partner or spouse. Violation of the court order will constitute contempt of court and be punishable as a misdemeanor.

Under California law, a misdemeanor is a crime that is less serious than a felony and includes such offenses as driving while under the influence (DUI) and shoplifting.

The new legislation comes into force on January 1, 2021.

Resources


Confidential support is available 24/7/365 to anyone experiencing abuse. In the USA call 1-800-799-7233 or log on to thehotline.org. In the UK call 0808 2000 247 or log on to nationaldahelpline.org.uk.


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The Use of Isolation in Coercive Control

I guarantee there is an entire generation that will instantly relate the word isolation to the 2020 COVID-19 crisis.

I do not.

I will not.

Every time I hear that word, my past haunts me. 

Images flash in my mind. 

But they are not of the present social distancing, wearing a mask, quarantine, and antibody testing. The images brought to my mind remind me of a different place, a different time when I was a different person.

Isolation is a reality of post-separation abuse for countless survivors around the world. It is one of the most powerful tools in the malignant narcissist’s game of power, control, and manipulation

The aims of isolation are two-fold:

  • The smaller a malignant narcissist can make your world, the more you will feel dependent on them. 
  • Isolating the victim makes it easier for the manipulator to distort the third partys’ perception of the victim and dominate the narrative.

An Invisible Prison

The last few months of social isolation have been extraordinarily difficult for me. I am reminded of my current strengths daily, as well as the person I used to be. In the blink of an eye, I remember things I wish I could forget.

When I was a married woman, living in a New York suburb, we had an electronic gate at the end of a very long driveway. Located in a well-to-do, bucolic neighborhood, the gate was attached to a concrete wall separating the house from the road – from the world.

There was a large metal box on one side of the front wall, which contained the gate’s motor and electronics. I did not know how to open nor operate the secured machinery. And there were video cameras everywhere. An ordinary person would think they were for security purposes — but I will get to that. 

You can be living in the dark hole of abuse – and not realize how bad it is until you start telling other people what is happening.

Julie Levine

The man I was then married to was in total control of operating the gate. On good days, I had a code to get in and a motion detector operated to let me out. However, on bad days when he felt I was disobedient when I had not been silent or had not worshipped him accordingly – he disconnected that gate when he left for work, abandoning me in a home with what I believed was no way out.

My sons would have to walk around or climb over the gate to get to the cul de sac for their school bus. When the gate was rendered inoperable – my world shrank and became even more restricted. I was ordered to remain at home until further notice.

Isolation was a punishment. It was deliberate. It was a minute component in the cycle of abuse.

Survival Mode in Coercive and Controlling Relationships

Looking back, I wonder: who was that woman who received such punishment? 

I could not drive a car out of the driveway with that damn gate stuck closed – but why didn’t I walk around it like my sons?

I never even considered it. I obeyed him. I lived in constant fear.

I was married to a man for almost two decades who used isolation amongst other Coercive Control tactics to dominate me. In the years since my divorce, I learned that his behaviors are consistent with narcissistic abuse.

In my case, other kinds of harm were added to the mix, such as domestic violence, and financial abuse. 

During my lengthy, high conflict divorce, the man who would later be known as my “ex” was diagnosed by several forensic psychologists as:

  •  a narcissist
  • a psychopath
  • a sociopath
  • having anti-social personality disorder, and
  • being morally bankrupt.

Did I ever hear of those terms before court-ordered reports?

Certainly not. 

For almost 20 years, I was so deep in survival mode, that I did not even consider there to be personality disorders and distinctions. It was just my way of life, a way of life I needed to survive for my children. 

How Coercive Control Destroys Support Systems

Gradually, friends left my life, my family became estranged, people I had known for years stopped contacting me.

More isolation.

Eventually, the only human contact I had was with my children’s teachers and occasionally parents of my children’s classmates. But even those contacts diminished.

I tried socializing with other people in our community – as couples normally would – but that never lasted too long.

My ex-husband would tell me that people didn’t like me or only bothered with me because they thought I had money, convincing me that all break downs in communication with the outside world were my fault.

For many years, I never questioned it.

I was a class mother for my sons in school, an assistant soccer coach, a softball mom, etc.

I lived my life day to day as a mother of two sons whom I cared for and practically raised alone as their father showed no interest in them until I began to stand up for myself, mentioning divorce.

Throughout their childhoods, my sons learned that the only time their father showed them attention was when they would mirror his interests. My sons eventually understood how the equation worked, dropped their interests and passions, and reflected their father.

No more soccer, softball, or basketball. Playdates were few and far between.

Looking back at all this I realize that he was isolating his sons almost as much as he was isolating me. I didn’t know back then that children too could be targets for Coercive Control.

Coercive Control is Captivity

Getting back to that gate at the entrance of my home address — everyone thought it was to keep people out when, in reality, its purpose was to keep me in.

There were days I just stayed at home, often recovering from bruises, with no means of escape.

I guess I was so traumatized, controlled, and terrified that I did not dare climb over that gate to get out. I remained at home, in fear, until I had a release date that my then-husband determined. The security cameras were strategically placed around that gate to allow him to keep an eye on my comings and goings, recording it on six small television screens within the home and backed up on the Smart House computer system.  

There were years of physical, psychological, emotional, and financial brutality. I would be locked in a bathroom, locked in a closet — a prisoner in my own home — all to disarm me, to break me.

But here I am, despite it all. My life turned out to be one of survival over adversity. It is not one of victimhood. 

Little by little, I mentioned what was going on to people, I started to read, and believe I deserved better.

You can be living in the dark hole of abuse – and not realize how bad it is until you start telling other people what is happening.

The Effects of Coercive Control on Children

Here is a shout out to anyone married to a narcissist. 

They will not want you to leave them, not even when they have a backup plan waiting in the wings in the form of their new supply.

As much as they use isolation to control their victim, narcissists fear abandonment.

If you have children with a narcissist, be prepared for the brainwashing of those children. The narcissist’s lies will be spewed and repeated, eventually destroying the relationship between you and the very children you love so dearly.  

When a narcissist knows you are on to them, they will use whatever will hurt you the most to get you back in line.

You can become isolated from the children who were once your entire world – alienated.

During the last few years living under the same roof, my ex did all in his power to separate and isolate me from the children I cherished. He wanted me to be as alone as possible.

Total isolation.

Isolation in a COVID-19 World

That word again – isolation. It is a gate that separates you from your children and the world. 

Lately, I’ve gotten so tired of hearing people complain about not seeing their families, not seeing their friends, not going out to restaurants, or on vacations. I’ve become inundated with people whining about how they can’t hug their grandchildren or go on their beloved shopping sprees.

Of course, these times are a challenge. But honestly, I think I’ve lived through worse. I often thank my Higher Power that at this very moment, at this very time – I am not in isolation with the man I was once married to.  

During this harrowing time of health crisis in our world, I am not isolated as I was in my past. This time, my isolation means I choose to stay safe.

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Christopher Hitchens on Bill Clinton

IN JAMES BALDWIN’S ACCOUNT of the Atlanta child murders of 1979-81, The Evidence of Things Not Seen, he recalls a dreadful earlier moment from 1964. The swamps and creeks of Mississippi were being dragged for the bodies of Schwerner, Chancy, and Goodman (done to death by the political ancestors of Bob Barr), and the search parties kept turning up corpses. Examinations proved that these were not the cadavers that the authorities were seeking. It took a while for the subject to change, or at least for it to change enough for someone to exclaim: Wait a minute! What are all these other bodies doing in the swamp?

It is one thing to say, with reasonable confidence, that the Oval Office is currently occupied by a war criminal, a rapist, and a pathological liar. It is another to ponder the full implications. If half of what one knows about Clinton’s business deals and date-rapes is half-true, then he has been going through political life for years, aware or quasi-aware that any or every telephone call might be the one he has been dreading. That’s more stress than most of us could take. Only a certain kind of personality could be expected to endure it. You can find this under the simpering liberal inertia of “Comeback Kid,” or you can check it in a taxonomy of an entirely different kind, where the key phrase is “Threat to self and others.”

Almost no allegation ever made by a woman and denied by him has proven to be untrue.

Christopher Hitchens

It seems to me morally feeble, as well as intellectually slack, to split the difference between Clinton and Broaddrick or to characterize her allegation as unprovable. The feeblest summary of this compromise is contained in the lazy phrase “he said, she said.” In the case of the “he,” we already know he is a hysterical, habitual liar. We also know that almost no allegation ever made by a woman and denied by him has proven to be untrue. And we know that ex-girlfriends have been subjected to extraordinary campaigns of defamation, amounting in some cases to intimidation, merely for speaking about “consensual” sex. What allegation could be more horrific than that of rape? And yet, “he” hadn’t said anything yet. If I were accused of rape and the woman making the charge was a lady of obvious integrity, I would want to do better than have a lawyer speak for me and make a routine disclaimer (especially a lawyer, in this case, the pathetic figure of David Kendall, who had not even met me at the time of the supposed crime). Asked by NBC to say where Clinton had been on the morning in question – a fact easily established in the life of a state attorney general – the White House declined cooperation. I would have wanted to do better than that, too.

A provisional but by no means unsafe induction, then, is that Broaddrick is speaking the truth.

Christopher Hitchens

So much for the “he said.” What of the “she”? If the allegation is false, then Broaddrick is not just getting her facts wrong. She is deliberately fabricating one of the most damning charges that any one person can make against another. She must be a wicked or deluded or malicious person. There seems no escaping this corollary conclusion. There also seems no reason at reaching for it. Where is the famous Clintonian rapid-response team? Has it no pride? Can it not find or produce any shadow of a doubt to cast on Broaddrick’s character? I think that if it could, we would know by now. Furthermore, a woman who groundlessly makes such a charge may be, and in my opinion ought to be, proceeded against for slander and wasting police and legal time. No hint of that.

A provisional but by no means unsafe induction, then, is that Broaddrick is speaking the truth. Questioned fairly closely by NBC’s Lisa Myers, she and her contemporaneous corroborative witnesses were easily able to answer the questions about silence and delay. The victim felt guilty for letting an unchaperoned man into her room, even if he was the attorney general. In a banana republic like Arkansas, allegations against powerful men were believed to have potentially unpleasant consequences. The victim was also having an extramarital affair with a man she hoped to marry. She did not want to be exposed, and she did not expect to be believed. Finally, and very importantly, she didn’t “go public.” She was made public. The feminist movement has taught us to recognize this pattern of response as a familiar and intelligible one. (How sad it was, by the way, to see Patricia Ireland changing her mind at this late stage. Doesn’t she know that she has lost something that she can’t ever hope to retrieve, and has lost it to Clinton?)

I also know of three other women who could, if they chose, lay a charge of assault against Clinton, which makes him a serial rapist.

Christopher Hitchens

Perhaps I won’t be taken as an authority on the moral credibility of the feminist leadership. But something ought to be said about the honor of the male sex in this business. It has been disgusting, all through the past year, to hear Clinton defended as homme moyen sensuel. “Everybody does it…all men lie about sex…a gentleman is expected to lie.” One reason a gentleman may be obliged to lie is to protect the reputation of the woman. Clinton has lied in order to trash them. I don’t have any male friends who say that it wasn’t “sex” because the woman got nothing out of it (the gallantry defense). I don’t have ay male friends who hump the help and then (with the assistance of paid slanderers) call them liars, golddiggers, sluts, and blackmailers. I don’t have any male friends who have been plausibly accused of rape, either, though I do know several women who have been sexually assaulted and decided not to go public. I also know of three other women who could, if they chose, lay a charge of assault against Clinton, which makes him a serial rapist. This puts him, in male terms, way outside the limit of what can be tolerated. I see him on television all the time, biting that fat lip of his, and now I have an additional reason for the powerful nausea I have always felt. I imagine his teeth in Juanita Broaddrick’s lips after he’s told her to lie still or he’ll bite her again. But hey, it’s time to move on. So forget it. Forget it if you can.

This article was originally published with the title ‘The Clinton Swamp’ by Christopher Hitchens in his column The Minority Repost at The Nation on March 29, 1999.

Photo by Gage Skidmore

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