NORMAN: THE MOST NAGGED MAN IN BRITAIN
So runs the headline on The Sun’s front page this morning. It refers to a court judgement in which Julie Griffiths of Staffordshire has been spared jail for breaking the terms of her anti-social behaviour order imposed last December for shouting and screaming at her husband at such volumes that it persistently disturbs the neighbours.
The story goes back to 1999 when she was first served with a noise abatement order. She was fined £500 when she breached it in 2010. Environmental health officers installed monitoring equipment in a neighbour’s home in July last year.She then breached the noise abatement order 47 times between July 4 and October 22, 2012. Last December magistrates imposed a five-year ASBO after she pleaded guilty to failing to comply with the requirements of the notice. Since then Griffiths, the court heard, has continued to disturb her street with shouting, swearing and slamming doors while berating her husband Norman, 63.
A Daily Mail report, from the time of the Asbo last December, said:
Neighbours yesterday said living next door to Griffiths had ‘been hell.’ One, who did not want to be named, said: ‘Everyone in the street is sick to the back teeth of her. ’Everyone just feels so sorry for her husband Norman who is the sweetest man you could ever meet. ’He must have the patience of a saint.’
According to the Daily Mail today Councillor John Williams, cabinet member for stronger neighbourhoods, said: ‘Ms Griffiths’s neighbours continue to suffer from her dreadful behaviour despite the Anti-Social Behaviour Order but we will do all we can to see that action is taken to stop it happening in future.
Now I can’t be the only person to be rather disturbed by the reporting of this. Her repeated offence is annoying the neighbours, as if they are the primary victims here, The case is being treated identically to someone who insists on playing Metallica CDs at full volume, morning and night. But she is not just making noise. She is, by all accounts, persisting in severe and persistent verbal partner abuse. It would appear to be textbook coercive-controlling abuse, by any of the definitions of domestic violence applied by all agencies,
Now it could well be that her husband has no wish to take any steps himself to change her behaviour or find any kind of protection or relief from her bullying. That is entirely his right, and if he does not want to do anything about it I would not for a moment advocate prosecuting her for domestic abuse or seeking to break up the household.
However I do take exception to the language and vocabulary used to recount the sordid story. Not only does the word ‘nagging’ have an ugly history as a misogynistic slur, it would appear to be grossly inaccurate description of what is happening here. Nagging is when you tell someone to take the bins out, they don’t do it, so you keep at them until they do. Nagging is not yelling, screaming and banging doors so loudly that the council noise abatement team repeatedly prosecute you.
it has taken us a long, long time to lose the euphemisms attached to domestic violence. Police, for the most part, do not dismiss partner assaults as “just a domestic” (or not publicly, at least.) We no longer talk about an abusive husband as having a “strong hand” or a male victim as a “henpecked husband.”
It’s more than high time that we dropped this particular N-word too.