Some of the news reports on Mel Gibson’s tirade, which was addressed in my last post, has prompted me to repeat to you something that I say to my clients (especially women) all the time.
As a family law attorney, I work in a field that is intimately involved with the subject of domestic violence , I want to make something clear:
If you are abused, it is OKAY to document the abuse in any legal way you can.
V told me today that she had just heard a discussion—between women, no less—that Oksana was somehow wrong to tape Gibson in his tirade. Let me say this again: the fact that she had the tape recorder rolling and continued to speak with him and let him rant is OKAY.
Do you hear me? If you are in an abusive relationship, it is OKAY to trap these guys at their game by any legal means.
Oksana was successful in “setting up” Gibson (to her great credit) because she had endured life with him. Don’t you see? This only documents what she has already endured. She knew how he would behave, because it was his custom.
Do a Goggle search fpr yourself on “underreported domestic violence statistics.” The usual figure is that under one-fourth of domestic violence occurrences are reported. I think that really even fewer are actually reported than this indicates, especially if you include emotional bullying with no bruising or lost teeth to document the incident.
I often have to pull reports of domestic abuse from my women clients. I ask every single one of them “Have you been a victim of domestic abuse? Does your spouse hit you or hurt you in any way, either physically or emotionally?” Many is the time we have to go back to that question again several times as I sense the shame in my client that comes from being abused and while she struggles to keep it hidden from me, still.
Many times women almost won’t own up to the fact that they are abused. And many of them do not recognize belittling and bullying as abuse because they don’t have a black eye to show for it.
I challenge you to listen to Mel Gibson’s tape if you think Oksana was in any way to blame for “setting him up.” Listen to the tape and tell me if there is anything that anyone could say or do to make you berate and threaten them in such appalling terms. Is there?
No, not if you’re normal, there’s not. He walked into her trap because this is the way he acts. And I applaud her for documenting it any way she can.
In fact, I often tell my clients to do just that. I very bluntly say to my cowed, scared client who has not yet shared with others her plight because she cannot prove it: “Go to Radio Shack. Buy a recorder. Get him doing that again—you’re a smart girl, you can get him to do that.”
Many clients feel ashamed to do this—more ashamed than being abused! Until I help them see the light. “Persevere through the ickiness,” I tell them, “He’s forced you to this point…”
[CAVEAT: It is not legal to tape phone conversations in every state; be sure to check that out! If it's illegal, there are other ways…abusers tend to be so cocky that they’re stupid. Just look at Mel.)
Do you think that’s wrong advice for me to give them? Nope, it’s not. Too many women endure abusive relationships because they cannot prove what is going on, and many of them are afraid to leave and afraid they’ll lose their children because they’ll be made out to be the crazies (a favorite tactic). These women need proof.
These guys need to be outed—they don’t get better without serious intervention. They get worse. And women need to be empowered to get out and to be able to prove what is happening.
So, if you are in an abusive situation, you are in a battle for your own welfare and that of your children if you have them. You have my express permission to document abuse in any legal way you can.
And if some woman you care about is in an abusive situation, you give her this permission, too.
So there! C