Everyday Victim Blaming

challenging institutional disbelief around domestic & sexual violence and abuse

The BBC and reporting male violence…Again

I seem to be on a mission with the BBC and their reporting at the moment. As with this article, some might call it inevitable. The problem I have with the article is part of a wider pattern of BBC reporting on male violence against women.

Peter Foster murdered his partner. He killed a woman yet the article is framed to seem actually sympathetic with him because he took his own life.

"Mr Carver said Foster was "full of remorse" for what had happened, but that his death was "inevitable"."

What evidence is there of remorse? So full of remorse that he tried to dispose of evidence and dumped her body. Remember this is a man who killed his partner, who had recently given birth, by "hitting Det Con Cooper over the head 10 times with a baseball bat and stabbing her in the throat." There was no remorse for Heather Cooper. The only remorse was all for himself and the fact he was caught.

The article then goes on to describe some of the trigger points in Foster's life which is understandable as it is an inquest into his suicide. But it is the way these points have been selected and the way they have been described that minimises what he did.

"...not being able to see his children after his arrest had a "profound effect on him"."

Are we meant to feel sympathy here? He brutally killed their mother. He shouldn't have access to them. He needed to face the consequences of his actions. This was one of them. What about the effect his actions had on his children? Did he think about the profound effect it may have had on them? The self absorption of the man can really be seen in that comment.

"He said Foster had been abandoned by his mother and brought up by his grandmother."

The language here is so telling. '[A]bandoned' is such an emotive word. Did she abandon him or did she leave him in the care of his father or grandmother? Fathers who abandon their children are far far more often described as 'absent' or 'not around'.

"He also had a difficult relationship with his father and suffered bouts of depression."

What does 'difficult' mean exactly? His mother abandoned him and his father he had a 'difficult' relationship with. A bit of disparity going on there with the wording. Maximising the effect of his mother's actions on his life and minimising the actions of his father who clearly wasn't around a great deal either as he was brought up by his grandmother.

"...Foster's father was murdered in January 2009, which he had found hard to cope with.
Later that year, he was found close to death on his father's grave after taking pills and alcohol."

So he had a history of of wanting to take his life. In between which he took someone else's life. Why are we asking the question of why he took his own life but not asking why this man decided to direct his violence outwards on to someone else? And on a wider basis why men so often direct their emotions outward in a violent manner because this is by no means restricted to Foster. And we should remember, from the second BBC article linked to that Heather Cooper wanted to leave him. He promised to go to anger classes. The violence was already there before he murdered her. This was a violent, abusive man.

"Prison officer Geoff Gordon described Foster as a pleasant and calm man who was interesting, vulnerable and bright."

I really feel like swearing at this point. This is a total eradication of what he did. He brutally murdered a woman. How come some are so quick to overlook that? Such privilege is rarely offered to female murderers. Would a female murderer's suicide garner this much sympathy? 10 women a week commit suicide due to domestic abuse. They certainly don't garner much sympathy and they didn't kill anyone.

Taking these excerpts that the BBC chose at face value, you would think that Peter Foster was a tragic soul who'd had things happen to him. Not someone who had taken a life incredibly violently and deprived his children of their mother. Language matters. Let's use it correctly around violent and abusive men. He was nasty and brutal.

However I do agree with the BBC and Mr Carver on one point. His suicide was inevitable because here was a man who refused to face up to the responsibility of his actions.

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