WHEN JAIL IS ONLY OPTION
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.