WHEN JAIL IS ONLY OP­TION

The Gold Coast Bulletin - - NEWS -

WIFE basher “Brendan” was jailed for more than 12 years for at­tempt­ing to kill his part­ner in their Gold Coast home.

As colum­nist Ann Wa­son Moore re­ports in The In­ter­view to­day, he served 10 years be­fore be­ing paroled.

It took much of that decade for the rage to sub­side, for him to re­alise he had to move on, and for him to par­tic­i­pate in courses that led him to recog­nise the trig­gers that had turned him – a fa­ther and a man who thought of his for­mer wife as his true love – into an ir­ra­tional mon­ster.

Brendan’s story is one every­one should read be­cause even though many will ap­proach what he has to say with a de­gree of dis­gust and cyn­i­cism, they will soon learn he is hard on him­self, of­fers in­sights into how the red mist de­scends as a con­trol­ling male takes that first step into vi­o­lence, and pleads with au­thor­i­ties not to muck around in deal­ing with out-of-con­trol men who bash women.

They can’t be stopped by any­thing other than a prison sen­tence, he says. They, their part­ners and so­ci­ety need them to be locked away so that in time, the fires of rage die away and they re­alise they have to change and move on. Brendan tells of wit­ness­ing shock­ing vi­o­lence in jail, in­clud­ing be­ing stabbed twice. But he also cred­its his time be­hind bars – and the courses and men­tors who ca­joled and guided him – for help­ing him change his life. His com­ments about jail and sen­tenc­ing are a rev­e­la­tion.

As Queens­land au­thor­i­ties and vic­tim sup­port agen­cies grap­ple with polic­ing, fund­ing, con­flict­ing ide­olo­gies, prob­lems in de­liv­er­ing GPS track­ers and spend­ing con­sid­er­able amounts of money, time and re­sources in try­ing to pro­tect fright­ened fam­i­lies from of­fend­ers re­leased on bail or freed from prison within a short pe­riod, Brendan – a man who re­mem­bers the anger and cold de­sire for “re­venge” – be­lieves the sys­tem has it all wrong.

Of­fend­ers have to be jailed from the word go, he says. DVOs and brief stints in a lockup mean noth­ing to an angry man who, as soon as he is re­leased, is driven only by a de­sire to find the tar­get of his fury, ex­er­cise con­trol and in­flict harm. Pro­tec­tion can only come for all con­cerned by re­mov­ing the of­fender from so­ci­ety for how­ever long it gen­uinely takes to achieve change.

It is a per­spec­tive that has some­how es­caped gov­ern­ments and the courts.

They worry about the rights of the in­di­vid­ual in the dock, but what of the vic­tim’s rights? And how much does it cost char­i­ties, sup­port agen­cies and the com­mu­nity to hide fam­i­lies from their tor­men­tors?

The Gold Coast has a long and bloody his­tory of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence cases that have stunned the na­tion.

This paper has been re­port­ing for years on the ap­palling cases that go through the courts or un­fold in pub­lic. We have urged politi­cians to beef up the laws, with some suc­cess. But do­mes­tic vi­o­lence and its wider ram­i­fi­ca­tions re­main a threat.

When fam­i­lies go into hid­ing, schools and em­ploy­ers also feel the im­pact.

One man’s opin­ions are not enough to con­vince gov­ern­ments and the courts to come down harder on of­fend­ers, but they come from the “other side” and can be enough to make peo­ple take no­tice, set­ting in train a vi­tal de­bate about sen­tenc­ing.

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