BBC Radio Drama Depicts Domestic Violence and the DV Establishment
Robert Franklin, Esq.
January 14th, 2011
The British continue to prove themselves far more capable of articulating men’s and fathers’ rights issues in the mainstream media than we do in the United States. I’ll do a couple of pieces on that because BBC Radio has just aired two programs on domestic violence that put anything I’ve ever seen in the U.S. to shame.
The first is here (BBC Radio 4, 1/10/11). It’s entitled “Believe Me” and it is, quaintly, a radio drama. For my tastes, it’s quite well done.
It’s the fictional tale of Tyrone and Rachel. The story opens with the police banging on their door as Rachel audibly weeps. The police plainly have been called there to arrest Tyrone on a charge of assaulting his girlfriend. We soon learn that Rachel has been stabbed or cut.
From there, the action goes back and forth in time. Part of the story is related by Rachel as she talks to a woman we assume to be a police officer with training in domestic violence cases. That’s the present.
The past is revealed as it happened. We hear Tyrone and Rachel meeting for the first time by chance in the street. Soon they go out to dinner and before long they’ve taken a weekend at the beach. Then they’re living together.
Bit by bit we see Rachel becoming more and more possessive and critical of Tyrone. After a while, she’s drinking too much and monitoring his telephone calls. In due course he can’t seem to do or say anything that suits her. Then she slaps him. Later she hits him three times with her cell phone. By the end, he can’t even leave their flat for fear of attack. It’s then she injures herself and calls the police to arrest him.
All of that is done effectively enough and if that were all there were to the piece, it would have been enough. But what’s truly moving is that the truth about their relationship – how it degenerated into jealousy, possessiveness, irrationality and violence – is interspersed with Rachel’s version of events to the police.
In her telling, Tyrone could never give her what she needed. He couldn’t be trusted; he teased her with his relationship with a woman at work; he was controlling and finally violent.
The trouble with “the Rachel version” is that we know it’s made up. But the policewoman swallows it whole. Every hint Rachel gives that it’s she, not Tyrone who’s the perpetrator – and there are plenty – flies right past the officer. She’s so steeped in the jargon and biases of the domestic violence movement that she can’t hear what’s really happened.
And as we know, when women are perpetrators of domestic violence, even if they want help, they often can’t get it because the DV industry doesn’t acknowledge their existence. (Last year I wrote a piece about a West Virginia court’s ruling that state’s DV system to be violative of state and federal laws in part because it provided no services for female abusers.) Listeners are left with the certain knowledge that no one in the DV industry understands that it’s Rachel who has the problem and that, as sure as the sunrise, she’ll find another dupe.
I wrote recently about “Teen Mom” Amber Portwood whose on-camera attack on boyfriend Gary Shirley has done so much to promote the cause of men’s rights in DV cases. I basically said that seeing is believing, that I can cite all the statisitics and studies in the world, but they won’t carry the same weight that 30 seconds of “Teen Mom” will.
Well, “Believe Me” is radio, not TV. But like all good radio, it allows listeners to imagine what’s described and in doing so it packs its own punch. And Portwood’s was a single incident; “Believe Me” is the story of a whole relationship. It allows people to experience the realities faced by a man and woman whose own personal demons won’t let them out of a relationship that can only end as it does – in physical injury.
As such, it plays a valuable role in bringing the truth about domestic violence to the BBC’s listeners.