Trivialising domestic abuse, Mail-style

Partner abuse. It’s often a difficult topic to discuss, and the countless factors involved – from victims defending their abusers, to the devastating affect it can have on the children of the families – mean you often have to handle it with utmost sensitivity. Unless you’re the Mail that is!

Women entitled to a council house if they move out because their partner shouts at them, top judges rule

The Supreme Court ruled that women whose partners shout at them persistently can claim they are effectively ‘homeless’ – and will be entitled to a council house.

In a test case, the judges ruled that Mirhmet Yemshaw was the victim of ‘violence’ at the hands of her husband even though she was never physically attacked.

Her local authority had earlier ruled that she was at low risk of being physically attacked by her partner.

The decision could have wide-ranging implications for councils across the country.

If a couple split and the ‘abused’ partner is shouted at they will potentially be entitled to be handed a new home by their local authority.

First of all, the law in question is gender neutral on this issue – men who are the victims of abuse have exactly the same rights as women to receive council accommodation if they are made homeless.

But look at the Mail‘s wording, and how it uses scare quotes. Yemshaw wasn’t homeless, she was ‘homeless’. She wasn’t a victim of violence, she was a victim of ‘violence’. She wasn’t abused, she was ‘abused’. Time and time again, it’s almost as if the Mail is trying to downplay the abuse, not least by repeatedly characterising this abuse as just “being shouted at”.

Of course, the Mail‘s readers – obsessed as they are with council houses and the people who may or may not deserve them – have picked up on the dog-whistles and run with them, apparently oblivious of the difference between a loveless relationship and an abusive one.

What a joke … This can’t be right ! A horrible nagging mad cow ex-wife used to shout at me all the time. How come she ended up with the house , the contents and most of my wages then? Maybe I should have shouted at her and she could have been given a council house instead.

There’s a lot of “What about the men?” comments too – understandable given that the Mail hints (falsely) that this the law benefits women at the expense of men (and yes, for you concern trolls out there, it also applies to gay couples) – and even more comments from readers who think that the housing system is clogged with women pretending to be abused for a free council house:

Saves going to all that trouble of having a baby, just move in with some poor mug for five minutes then start crying that ‘he shouted at me’ and bingo. Next ruling will probably make the man responsible for paying the rent/bills/council tax. The government have been treating grown people like babies for the last 13 years so I’m not surprised that vast swathes of the population now act like babies. Victim culture is a pathetic selfish ideology that might seem OK to the ‘protected groups’ that can claim compensation for anything but it’s going to end in tears one day

So if you want another house just go down to the local council office and tell your husband / partner has shouted at you. Do these judges live in the real world?

Women who are shouted at by partners should be entitled to council property? Well, Mugs UK, you’d better start building a great deal more council property. I see another clever little scam looming.

SHOUT AT ME!! I WANT A COUNCIL HOUSE!! I never realised it was that easy.

Of course, none of them can say why this system would be any more open to abuse than the current system, or why the risk that some people might try to take advantage of the system automatically means no-one should receive its protection.

Those comments all had dozens of green arrows, by the way, though that’s not to say every top-rated comment is dreadful. I’ll leave you with this comment, from Nina, Suffolk, which has 94 upvotes at time of writing.

A friend of mine recently finally left her husband after suffering years of aggression from him. He never actually hit her but threw things which narrowly missed her making holes in the wall, hit walls & doors with his fists, screamed at her in the steet on a daily basis, screamed at her at home on a several times a day basis, screamed at their friends who dared to point out that his behaviour was unreasonable and never once was prepared to take responsibility for his anger and tried to blame her. When she asked for examples of what she did that upset him so much, he couldn’t give an answer. But it was still all her fault, not his. Thankfully she had her family to go back to in the end but a lot of women aren’t that lucky. What kind of a society do we live in if a woman (or a man) has to actually be physically attacked before they can get help? Surely helping them get out before that happens is better?

Edit: Natalie Dzerins points out that overnight, the Mail has managed to make that headline even worse. How?

Shout at your spouse and risk losing your home: It's just the same as domestic violence, warns woman judge


  1. #1 by jonsharman on Wednesday, 26th January 2011 - 21:53 GMT+0100

    It’s encouraging when you see a reasonable comment like that on a Mail article, but all too often they’re swamped by the idiots. I sometimes wonder if the other commenters aren’t all just taking the piss… The things they write seem so ridiculous.

  2. #2 by Vagn on Thursday, 27th January 2011 - 16:22 GMT+0100

    Considering that under English law, non-physical harm can be considered actual or grievous bodily harm, the Judge would appear to be perfecftly correct in his ruling that non-physical abuse can be included in domestic abuse.

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