At what point do we arm the victims?

Earlier this week a woman named Teresa Bradford was stabbed to death by her husband. Commenting on the crime scene, Detective Inspector Mark Thompson of the Gold Coast Criminal Investigation Branch seemed to reassure the public when he said: “There doesn’t appear to be any firearms or weapons of that nature to have been involved in this offence”. Well, that’s a relief. How would the situation have unfolded if Mrs. Bradford would have been armed?

If abused individuals are lucky enough to have protective people around them, much can be done. It wasn’t that long ago that a problem individual like Mr. Bradford was dealt with in a less bureaucratic way. Mrs. Bradford was clearly afraid for herself and her children. She spoke to friends and neighbours and confessed that she feared her husband was going to kill her. But our communities aren’t what they used to be. Nowadays, people leave societal problems like domestic violence to the government to sort out. And we all know how well the government works.

A gun is often called ‘the great equalizer’. A smaller person who is armed has a good chance of defending themselves against a much larger person. There’s a good chance that if Teresa Bradford was properly trained to use a firearm and had a loaded gun near her that night, she would still be alive.

Unfortunately, Mrs. Bradford didn’t legally have the option of possessing a gun for the purpose of self-defence. Using a firearm to defend yourself against someone who is trying to kill you is illegal in Australia. Allowing battered spouses the right defend themselves is too radical of an idea for most lawmakers. The only legal way for victims to deal with domestic violence in this country is to shut up and take it or attempt to call the police and involve the courts.

Visits from the police don’t intimidate an abusive bully. The police in these situations are often inept and fail to recognize what is really going on. Many abusers are highly manipulative and discredit the victim while a high percentage of police officers are abusers themselves. Two studies out of the US show that at least 40% of police officer families have experienced domestic violence compared to 10% of families in the general population. It is not unusual for abuse victims seeking help from the police to find themselves being treated dismissively or with suspicion.

The court system is tedious and ineffective. A Protection Order might discourage some abusers from battering their ex-partners but there are those who become even more enraged once a Protection Order is in place. When it comes right down to it, a piece of paper with ‘Protection Order’ printed across the top isn’t going to stop a man intent on killing his wife.

There has always been domestic violence and there always will be. Well meaning folk hand out white ribbons every year to bring ‘awareness’ to a problem that has always existed. We don’t need more speeches or stolen tax dollars to fund programs. We don’t need magazine articles decrying how many women are killed by their partners each year. All of this money, time and talking is being wasted on a problem that won’t ever go away. Not unless those who are abused reject the narrative they’ve been told and refuse to be victims.

Women and men who are abused need to realize that no one is going to save them. Clearly, the ‘system’ everyone speaks of is not protecting victims of abuse. However, there are ways of working within the system. Victims of abuse ought to join their local pistol club and become proficient at target pistol shooting. It can be very empowering to learn a new sport. And leaving an abusive ex is the perfect time to broaden one’s horizons.

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