Mike the Psych's Blog

What if psychologists ruled the world? In real life?

Domestic abuse law not being enforced by police

It’s two years since the new offence of coercive and controlling behaviour (see my post on this here) came into force yet only 532 charges have been brought in England even though more than 4,000 offences were recorded by the police in one year.

The offence carries a maximum sentence of 5 years.

Six police forces have brought 5 charges or less and only eight of the 43 forces in England and Wales have taken up an accredited training programme dealing with the offence.

Elfyn Llwyd, whose private members’ bill led to the introduction of the offence said it was very frustrating that training had been so low. “The poor take-up of training among the Welsh and English police is reflected in the low number of prosecutions. The government must ensure that training is made mandatory and funded centrally“.

It’s just not good enough. When police forces are spending money demonstrating how PC they are by painting their cars and finger nails it suggests that they haven’t got their priorities right in protecting victims of what Theresa May, then Home Secretary, said could be “tantamount to torture”.

Essex police were also criticised for their campaign offering support to over-55 year old victims of domestic abuse who decided to stay with their partners.

It included a fictional case study which said “She knew the abuse in her relationship was wrong but also knew she wouldn’t leave. With help and support from specialist organisations and agencies she and her husband stayed together, but safely”.

Refuge, the domestic violence charity, were less than impressed saying it was the police’s job to arrest abuse perpetrators and that it seemed they were failing victims. Every week two women were killed by their partners or former partners.

Essex police acknowledged it had used “clumsy language“.


Scratch a Russian…

and you get a Tartar, is a well-known proverb alluding to a Russian’s asiatic nature beneath a european countenance. Hinting of the fierce nature of Genghis Khan’s mongol hordes.

So it may come as no surprise that President Putin has decriminalised some forms of domestic abuse. That’s right, you can beat your wife with less chance of being imprisoned now.

According to official government figures between 12 and 14,000 women die each year of domestic abuse. A popular saying in Russia is “if he beats you it means he loves you“.

The revised law reduced the punishment for minor injuries, such as cuts and bruises, from two years to 15 days in prison if it doesn’t happen more than once a year.

thIt was instigated by Yelena Mizulina, an ultra-conservative MP who is head of the Russian State Duma’s Committee for Family, Women and Children. It was voted through by 38 votes to 1. She said that prosecuting people for a slap threatened to break up families and if parents weren’t allowed to beat their children “it would undermine traditional family values“. Sorry, but what committee is she head of?

A survey showed that 55% of Russians actually supported the change in the law (wonder what the gender split was?) and only 17% were against it.

th-1The popular tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda (Young Communist League Truth)  ran an article that said women with violent husbands should “be proud of their bruises” because some biologists believe that  they are then more likely to give birth to boys.( One way of continuing the vicious cycle as well).

Amnesty International describes it as ” a sickening attempt to further trivialise domestic violence“.

The mayor of Yekaterinberg, Russia’s fourth largest city, said they were now dealing with 350 cases of domestic assault very day compared to 150 a day previously. Before people were afraid of criminal charges – it acted as a safety barrier. “People got the impression that before it wasn’t allowed but now it is”.

So there you have it, an insight into the Russian character as personified by that low-achieving KGB officer (he only achieved lietenant-colonel rank), gay icon and macho man of the people who now sees himself as the Tsar of a  new Russian Empire.

Domestic abuse. Where does it start?


bully_picking_fight_1600_wht_11656-2Just over a year ago I posted on this topic following comments from Seema Malhotra the then shadow minister for preventing violence against women and girls.

As it’s that time of year when people often think about making changes in their lives I thought it worth re-posting with an updated checklist.

Malhotra had said that undermining someone’s self-esteem, for example, could be part of a broader pattern of behaviour, “Psychological abuse can be an indicator of physical abuse in the future or an indication of physical abuse that has happened in the past”.

It can be a part of a pattern of controlling behaviour that leaves people feeling fearful and terrorised in their own homes”.

And that could include being critical of someone’s appearance e.g. saying they look fat or their clothes are not trendy enough, or anything done to control or undermine someone.

Domestic abuse is usually thought…

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Domestic abuse now a criminal offence in the UK

Almost a year since it became a criminal offence. If you are suffering make a New Year resolution to do something about it NOW!

Here is my post from last year


P1000496Controlling or coercive behaviour became a crime last week punishable by up to 5 years in prison under s76 of the Serious Crime Act 2015.

Alison Saunders, the director of public prosecutions, said “Being subjected to repeated humiliation, intimidation and subordination can be as harmful as physical abuse with many victims stating that it had a more lasting impact”

The UK government’s definition of domestic violence is “any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. The abuse can encompass, but is not limited to psychological, physical, sexual, financial, emotional

I posted last week on this subject not realising this amendment to the law was due. India Knight wrote about it in the Sunday Times describing such psychological abuses as seeking…

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Anything you can do, I can do worse

Violent offences and sex attacks, increased alcohol consumption and partner abuse, have all increased dramatically for women.

Gone are the days of ladylike behaviour. Increasingly women are copying the worst behaviours of men. They are just as likely as men to troll partners online; they are swearing more than men (who have cut down); and drinking more than ever before.

Teenage girls in the UK are twice more likely than boys to get drunk than almost anywhere else in Europe where it is the other way round. They are also more likely to be drink-driving than men from the age of 30 with a doubling of the number of women convicted for it since 1998.

figure_behind_bars_anim_500_wht_3524There are currently almost a hundred women in prison for violent behaviour, up a third, and over a hundred serving time for serious sexual offences, three times the number, compared to ten years ago.

One in three people affected by domestic abuse is male, 1 in 20 men in England & Wales, more than half a million compared to 900,000 women. Abuse from women in same sex partnerships is on the increase too.

And there are over twice as many women in prison for murder (260) and 50% more for wounding (354) than ten years ago.

David Wilson, professor of criminology at Birmingham City University, described it as a “genuine phenomenon“. He believes a proportion of women have always had the same violent tendencies as men, drinking, swearing etc, but the context has changed.

Previously women had less opportunity to socialise and be in public than men but now they are more likely to go out to work and at a time when social attitudes have changed. Sociology professor Frank Fuedi at the University of Kent said “a generation ago women would have been ashamed to be seen drunk in the street but now it is almost a badge of honour”.

For women all boundaries have gone and there are no clear rules about what is expected and how they should behave“. They are treating freedom like a big piece of cake”women have got it and some are gorging on it. They are often applauded for certain kinds of behaviour because it seems strong or brave or because it goes against the traditional grain

Linda Papadopoulos, a psychologist, finds it strange as she believes women are still people pleasers and one of the biggest trends is a women’s need to be perfect and conform. She saidsadly I think women are still huge people pleasers and perfectionism remains a big problem for them, underlying so many problems including eating disorders. Rather than breaking out of traditional expectations it’s about conforming to a new set of social norms that rewards the girl who burps the loudest or drinks the most“.

A sad state of affairs in my view but it seems you can’t put the genie back in the bottle. And she has a point about the state of women’s and girls’ mental health issues. But if girls are getting stroppier then why do they behave like snowflakes at university? Answers on a postcard please.


Football & happiness – a game of 2 halves 

 brazil_flag_with_soccer_ball_1600_wht_2747Now the 2014 World Cup is underway again there will be much speculation about the impact it will have on the host country.

After the last one there was quite a bit of research which showed that such events did have positive outcomes.

We’ll have to wait and see if the same thing happens this time round in Brazil.


Fans celebrating the upcoming 2010 FIFA World ...

Image via Wikipedia

Football can make people happier. Two economists tried but failed to prove that football was good for a country’s economy. But when they looked at national pride and happiness they got better results.

They looked for changes in life satisfaction in 12 European countries over 30 years up to 2004, and especially looked at how people felt following Olympic, World Cup, and European Cup competitions.

They were interested in whether or not teams doing better than expected had a positive effect on people from that country and whether countries hosting the competitions benefitted.

There was no evidence that performing better than expected had any real effect on people’s life satisfaction scores. Nor did planning to host such an event make people any happier.

But there was strong evidence that actually hosting an event did make people happier in that country. In fact it made people 3 times happier than if they had gained a higher level education, 1.5 times the happiness boost associated with getting married, and nearly large enough a difference in happiness to offset the misery of a divorce!

Sadly 1 year later the happiness effect had worn off. Whereas being married keeps you happier longer.

So perhaps the secret is to live in a country hosting such an event to get the short-term happiness boost and get married in the following 12 months for a longer-lasting effect!

FYI Married people are happier than single people (of course it could be that happy people get married more easily). And the 30% improvement in spousal happiness even counteracts all the negative affects of unemployment.

Greater Manchester Police reported an increase in domestic abuse the day England were knocked out of the World Cup. It was the largest number reported since New Year’s Eve and 16% up on the same time the previous year.

Updated 10 July 2010: The World Cup seems to have had a unifying effect on the rainbow nation, perhaps even more than the 1995 Rugby World Cup. And if the government figures are correct South Africa will break even on its investment in airports, motorways, and high speed rail links.

There has been a show of unity, pride and patriotism and the crime rates have been low despite South Africa’s reputation as one of the world’s capitals in murder and rape.

So maybe the economists have got it right. Apparently psychiatrists are concerned that South Africans will experience a post event depression when the World Cup finishes. Let’s hope it’s 1-0 to the economists.

And a 40 year research project in America reported in New Scientist (10 July 2010) shows that when local college football teams did well in the 2 weeks before an election the sitting party won more votes than when the team lost. So if you want to stay in power make sure your local team plays well!

Updated 20 September 2010: Despite concern that South African policemen are too fat to chase criminals – the police minister said they shouldn’t be “massaging beer bellies” – it seems that the get-fit boot camps put in place for the World Cup may have paid off. (This in a country, similar to USA and Germany, where 60% of the population are overweight or obese).

Despite SA having the highest murder rates in the world, outside war zones or countries with drug cartels like Mexico and Columbia, the World Cup showed what could be done. There has been a sharp decrease in murders (down almost 9%) and violent robberies for the first time since nation-wide records were first collected in 1995-6 (when there were 27,000 murders compared to 17,000 this year).