Don’t Treat Domestic Violence Victims Like Perpetrators

Target: Brian Codd, Deputy Commissioner of Queensland Police Service

Goal: Spearhead reforms of police training that better address domestic violence incidents.

Calls for policing reform are far from just an American problem. Law enforcement in Australia, particularly in the region of Queensland, have come under intense scrutiny for what many advocates view as a misogynistic approach to domestic violence cases. Critics fear these perceived responses are hurting female victims and, in some cases, putting their lives in danger.

The renewed backlash arises in the wake of two high-profile murders involving alleged domestic violence. In one of the cases, the victim—Kelly Wilkinson—was reportedly lit on fire in front of her children. The suspect in this horrific tragedy is Wilkinson’s estranged husband. Although the young mother had repeatedly called on authorities for help, she apparently received little aid. During an incident involving a protection order, an officer allegedly told Wilkinson of her husband: “we just need to give him space.”

These failings seem to represent a troubling pattern in police responses. A report commissioned by the country’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety cited an even more troubling statistic. Allegedly, nearly half of women in Queensland presumably murdered by a spouse or partner had previously been identified in police reports as the perpetrators of violence instead of the victims. This circumstance appears to happen frequently when a woman refuses (or is too scared) to talk to police following a domestic incident call.

Rather than taking responsibility for these seeming lapses in leadership, one of Queensland’s police heads has apparently instead gone out of his way to downplay the reports and blame other factors, like so-called “compassion fatigue.” Sign the petition below to demand life-saving reform that starts at the top.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Deputy Commissioner Codd,

Tell the thousands of victims enduring domestic violence in Queensland every year that you are beleaguered by “compassion fatigue.” Your recent statements about law enforcement’s seeming lack of accountability in its handling of domestic violence calls contradicts the responses you gave after Kelly Wilkinson’s alleged murder. In that case, you acknowledged “failures” and lamented that “we’ve had too many wake-up calls. …Wouldn’t you love to turn back time?”

No one can turn back time or bring back Queensland’s other victims, too many of whom have reportedly been previously labeled by police as not survivors or victims but as perpetrators. You can only look forward and implement the changes so desperately needed. Do not wait for politicians, or the next tragedy, to make the call.

Reform the system from within; please begin with enhanced training that shows officers the best way to handle these highly sensitive cases…the most compassionate way.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Red Flags DV

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2 Comments

  1. Women need more protection in every country. Ancient laws pertaining to women are still on the books in many places. You’d think that men would value women more. They are their wives and the mothers of their children. Men wouldn’t exist without a woman to carry and nurture them for 9 long months before their births. It’s time we reinterpret our “holy” books and add some common sense chapters on treating women fairly and with respect. Maybe then women will be safer in all instances.

  2. Charleen Murphy says:

    Not only QLD but NSW as well that they treat women as the ones in the wrong & take them in & fingerprint them& put in a cell for no reason. We need women who can talk to women who believe & care & have understanding & compassion & more protection!

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