CASE STUDY: Rob & Rachel in Brighton
A black eye. A ruptured cheekbone. A broken nose. Multiple bruises
No, that information is not taken from a doctor’s report detailing a boxer’s injuries after a KO defeat, it is from notes written down by a nurse at Brighton’s Royal Sussex County Hospital after examining a man, Rob, who had arrived their by ambulance on Christmas Eve.
When asked how he had sustained his injuries, Rob’s overwhelming feeling was one of mortifying embarrassment. Why? Because he’d been beaten up by his wife: his five-feet and three inches in height, nine stone in weight, teaching assistant at a local primary school, wife, Rachel. “She’d been drinking. Heavily. Again.”
One ‘mistake’ is all it takes
Not thinking it would be a problem, Rob had casually reached for the remote on the coffee table, changed the TV channel, and then settled back onto the sofa to watch the 11.15 BBC News. What followed then, as Rachel returned to the living room clutching yet another tall glass of white wine, was like something from a horror movie.
“It was literally like flicking a switch”, Rob explains. “Rachel went ballistic. I hadn’t realised she’d been hoping to watch the late night film. I’ll never forget how her eyes blazed and how the veins at her temples protruded with the sheer rage that seemed to suddenly possess her.”
Was this a one-off?
“No”, Rob explains. “It was not the first time Rachel had lost it while she’d been drinking it’s happened on half a dozen occasions before but I never thought things would go this far. I never thought I would end up in hospital looking like I’d just been in a car crash. I had a brain scan and had to spend all of Christmas and New Year on a ward, for observation.”
So what did Rob and Rachel tell the kids?
“We made up some vague excuse about falling down the stairs. To be honest, it was the prospect of facing my workmates in the New Year that I found most difficult. But once the truth came out at least they believed me, I suppose. The Police and Social Services didn’t want to know, they simply don’t seem to take domestic violence against men seriously.”
Note: Rob’s story is harrowing, but it is by no means unique. According to recent British Crime Survey statistics, a third of domestic violence victims are male. That’s 400,000 men a year.
Was going to the Authorities a joint decision?
For the first time, Rachel contributes to the interview. To look at her, you’d think she would never hurt a fly, but appearances can be deceiving. “Anyone seen at a hospital has to tell the nurses and doctors who examine them how they sustained their injuries. In cases of domestic or non-domestic violence, that info is usually passed on to the powers-that-be.”
Rachel then went on to say that, in a way, it was a relief to her that her alcohol-fuelled brutal behaviour behind the front door was finally “out there.”
“A work colleague suggested that Rachel consider an Addiction Rehab Treatment Programme.” Rob explains. “But we don’t know what the options are, what’s involved, the cost… I mean, we wouldn’t even know where to start when it comes to all that, would we, Rachel?”
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Note: All names have been changed