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The ignored lesson

For all the pointless media hype, Tony Veitch’s admission of assault should hold one important lesson for us all: that no-one should consider themselves immune from the temptation of domestic violence.

It is easy to think of domestic violence as an issue for “them”, for those with certain backgrounds, or with certain mindsets.  But Tony Veitch was no lunatic.  A combination of pressures—work, time, exhaustion and the end of a relationship—had stretched the man as far as he could go.  This is not a matter of excuses, but nor is it unimaginable.  The pressures that led Mr Veitch to “lash out in anger” are all pressures that can, and do, affect everyday people.  The next to fall into a similar path could be you, or me, or any of our neighbours, colleagues and friends—no matter how friendly we might consider them to be.

Mr Veitch undertook counselling after the incident, and it is worth asking if the incident could have been avoided had he done so beforehand.  He said he “needed help”, which probably means he wasn’t getting it.  Everyone experiences internal tension, sometimes as a matter of course, and most of us have hit “breaking point” at some point or another.  It may be that, among other things, how people deal with stress, both work-related and otherwise, is a key issue in domestic violence.  I’m not saying breaking point normally means assault, but I do doubt this incident was an isolated one.

This high-profile case would have been the perfect opportunity to highlight this, but no-one seems to have taken it up.  Instead, it has turned into not just a media hysteria, but a public one.  Most who care, it seems, care not about public awareness of the issue, or what the public could learn from this.  They care about one thing only: to get Mr Veitch off the air.

There are many limitations to this approach, not least of which is the effect of sweeping it under the carpet.  Once the public interest dies down, with Mr Veitch having resigned, it will all be behind us, out of sight and out of mind.  No-one will take a second look at themselves, and ask how much of a risk they are.  No-one will seek help, ever.  Domestic violence will remain an issue for “them”, and we will all be none the wiser.

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