High profile men and violence against women.

10 June 2013

In light of a recent article, you might have seen it, regarding a ‘promising young man’ who violently assaulted his former partner, I decided to write to contact person listed on The Dame Malvina Major Foundation website.  I thought it worthwhile sharing as we don’t talk about this much, high profile sports men, comedians and performers seem to be excused from experiencing consequences of their actions, and this is really worrying!

All names and details that I have written about are available in the news article and on the DMMF website.

This is what I wrote:

“..I am writing to you with regard to a recent article that featured on ‘Stuff.co.nz’ (Link).  The news article is about Chase Douglas, an opera singer who recently pleaded guilty to violently assaulting his former partner, on more than one occasion.

The news feature mentions that he is a very talented young man, and mentioned he has been tutored by Dame Malvina Major, hence my contacting your foundation.

To quote some content from the article:

“Chase Douglas, 23, is seeking a discharge without conviction for the assaults – carried out between August and October 2011 – claiming a criminal record would impede his ability to perform overseas…

…Douglas recently completed his bachelor of music with honours (majoring in performance), receiving first-class honours at the University of Waikato, under the tutelage of Dame Malvina Major. He is now enrolled to do a master’s in music.

Describing the attack:  …”He choked my neck more than once and used a blanket to stop me from breathing and slap my face which caused a hearing problem, spit on my face, kick me, grab me and throw me on the floor, which caused bruises all over my body.”

The victim said she now finds it hard to sleep and suffers regular nightmares. She is constantly afraid someone will break into her flat, or that she will bump into Douglas again.”

…He said it was difficult to definitively say that a conviction would prevent Douglas from travelling, but it would create “barriers”.

“It will mean for the rest of his life he has to apply for a visa every time he travels. The evidence before the court is of a very talented young man.”

I am deeply troubled by much of what I have read in this article, I am very concerned about the messages this conveys to women and girls.  Namely, that if you are assaulted by a talented performer, his right to pursue his career and achieve success is more important than your right to a life free from violence and fear.  From what I read in the brief article, I am appalled that his chief concern seems to revolve around the impact of his actions, namely a criminal conviction, on his own life, rather than a sincere understanding of what his actions may mean for the woman he assaulted, her life and perhaps even her career.

I am sure that this young man has been let down, somewhere along the line, he has learned that this kind of violence is ok, perhaps he grew up seeing or experiencing first hand domestic violence.   Somehow for him, he hasn’t been able to check himself, and stop, or even have the skills to have a functional relationship.  This speaks to me of a huge, and often unmentioned problem in NZ society, where violence against women is not spoken about, except by a few women, and demonstrates to me that this is a problem that is not just with one young man, but within our culture itself.  Where are the brave men stepping up and saying that this kind of violent behavior Is Not OK?  Are there leaders in the Dame Mavina Major Foundation who can step up, and say that very thing?  This kind of violence will not come to an end if some men are excused from the consequences of their actions because they are high profile performers.

It is with a heavy heart that I have written to you and this foundation, I sincerely hope that this young man is supported to see the real impact of his actions, and I also wish the woman he assaulted receives the support and love she needs to move through this.

I was moved to contact The Dame Malvina Major Foundation in the hope these concerns will be understood and as the young man mentioned in the article has been associated with Dame Malvina Major, there could be an opportunity to speak up.

Angela Carter”

Deep breath out…

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