Victoria McNulty: Systemic Failures Fuel Domestic Violence

Victoria McNulty: Systemic Failures Fuel Domestic Violence

Coercive Control By Feb 06, 2024

Pharmacist Victoria McNulty was ready for a fresh start. Six months after fleeing from the coercive control of her ex-partner Garry Hazlett, she was settling into her new home.

According to The Herald, one evening she heard a noise at her door. Thinking one of her children was returning home, she went downstairs to meet them. To her horror, her abuser Hazlett, wearing a balaclava, broke into her home and launched a severe attack on her.

He viciously punched and kicked the mother of three, continuously stomping on her head and inflicting such serious harm that Victoria suffered cognitive damage. Garry’s attack was so devastating that it left her unable to work. 

Incredibly, Hazlett was released on bail until his trial despite the risk he posed to Victoria. She was left in legal limbo, fearing for her life. She developed Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). 

In August 2023, Hazlett was convicted of domestic abuse, assault, and robbery. He received a slap on the wrist from the legal system in the form of a flimsy 15-month sentence for his crimes. 

Perpetrators are hardly deterred by the lenient sentences handed down for domestic violence crimes. Instead, the court’s permissiveness towards their aggressive behavior emboldens them, while their victims are left without support. 

Victoria persevered and bravely pushed back. The Appeal Court expanded Hazlett’s sentence to four and a half years. 

Despite the increased sentence for his crimes, it is a profound injustice in the fact Victoria’s attacker will be free in less than five years while she will endure a lifetime of disability as a direct consequence of his assault. Victoria issued a damning critique of the current court system:

“Garry ruined the life I had professionally, mentally, socially, and financially. He will be eligible for parole after half his sentence – twenty seven months for taking all that is hard to swallow.”

Victoria McNulty is one of many victim-survivors whose story underscores the need for change within legal and social support frameworks. As things stand, the system is set up to empower perpetrators of domestic violence while marginalizing victims, who are made vulnerable to a lifetime of adverse health consequences.

I have previously written about how PTSD and depression comorbidity increases the risk of mortality in women and is linked to inflammation and metabolic dysfunction which can develop into diseases, including cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and Type 2 diabetes.

Are we destined to live in a society where perpetrators receive minimal consequences for intentionally destroying people’s life?

The existing legal and social architecture effectively undermines victims, their families, and taxpayers by failing to adopt a zero-tolerance policy against domestic violence. The glaring systemic gaps make it all too easy for batterers to leap through legal loopholes and escape being properly held to account for their crimes.

Society must now send a definitive message to domestic violence perpetrators: the days of enabling abusive power and control are over. The time has come to usher in a new era where victims’ rights are prioritized and protected, ensuring that everyone can exercise the basic human right to live free from fear.

Author

Manya Wakefield is a recovery coach specializing in cognitive behavioral therapy and coercive trauma. Her expertise has been featured in publications such as Newsweek, Elle, Cosmopolitan, and Huffington Post. In 2019, she launched the social impact platform Narcissistic Abuse Rehab, building a global audience through human rights advocacy. The same year, she published the book ‘Are You In An Emotionally Abusive Relationship,’ which is used in domestic violence recovery groups around the world. In 2020, Manya developed The Coercive Control Legislation Global Database. She is also the host of The Narcissistic Abuse Rehab Podcast, which is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Amazon.

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