Monday 11 September 2023

Of things that never should have happened

Relaxing by television

How do I relax when watching television at home? Everything done by Agatha Christie, I would probably watch, Miss Marple with Joan Hickson and then Geraldine McEwen in the title role being my favourites, then any other Hercule Poirot apart from Peter Suchet is pretending, even Sir Peter Ustinov’s turn did not interest me as much.

Murder, She Wrote, I have a date with Jessica Fletcher every Saturday, and I do not care how many times I have watched repeats, the same goes for Columbo on Sundays. Recently, I have taken an interest in Criminal Minds, then the easy gentile setup of Saint Marie, the location of Death in Paradise does not come with investigative overload, I could be watching a cartoon.

However, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (SVU) is one television series that has me walking in both the shoes of the victim and urging the fully indicted course of justice, with all that it entails. I can identify with the victim and many times with their frame of reference, especially in cases of child sexual abuse and the difficult quest for anything that looks like justice.

Identifying with the victim

Then, I am invested in the process to ensure that abuse is fully punished to the extent of the law, the cases are rarely iron clad slam dunk, there is much mining of the recesses of memory along with the issues around the depravity that caused the crime being investigated.

However, earlier tonight, I watched an episode of Law & Order: SVU, the detail of which is references, but a snippet of a conversation at the closing of the episode was the type of playscript that anyone who has been a victim of abuse can relate to.

Detective Katriona 'Kat' Tamin: None of us protected her.

Captain Olivia Benson: I hear you. Why don't you punch out, okay? Take a few days off.

Detective Katriona 'Kat' Tamin: Please don't patronize me. This never should have happened to her.

Captain Olivia Benson: You're right. It never should've. [Read more at: - Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (TV Series) Season 22, Episode 5 Turn Me on Take Me Private (2021)]

The conversation above can refer to too many instances of where protection, dismissal, advocacy, and exasperation. The bottom line is, “This never should have happened.”

Never should have happened

Looking back, there are too many things that never should have happened, things that could, should, or would have been prevented as part of what pertains to being protected, especially where the victim has no agency because of the situation and the circumstances, the vulnerable from child to adult alike.

Furthermore, where an act has been perpetrated, you wonder if there are any avenues to seek a hearing and consequently some redress. Sometimes, the situation is such that there is no way to share the incident, and it becomes internalised.

Yet, the worst part is when too little is done to deal with the issue out of the fear of shame or embarrassment, a moral failing that seeks to conceal rather than do what it right and just with the hope that the passage of time will make it pale into insignificance. It seems to, but it never does, it is usually consequential.

The insidious folding of arms and need to let bygones be bygones, otherwise, just take some time off and you’ll feel a lot better, do not rock the boat, other passengers might get seasick, so, take one for the team, the team that cannot begin to understand what you went through. That team is family, relations, your community, or colleagues. To make a fuss is to break ranks and upset the apple cart.

Do not let it happen

There are many directions to go in terms of making people responsible and accountable for their abuses, but that is further down the line. The better cause should be aware enough and ready with the courage to ensure that what never should have happened, never should have happened in the first place.

Obviously, justice in terms of apology, restitution, recompense, indictment leading to conviction and commensurate punishment can help, but why should a narrative include suffering for a better story even if one who has never suffered may find their own story not as engaging or interesting.

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