Sue Backshall

A fortnite stream offered us a glance into domestic violence, but not the full story

Yesterday, the nation was shocked by the footage of Fortnite streamer abusing his pregnant partner. As a survivor of domestic violence, I know that the difficult day is the one after they’ve been charged.

 

 

Yesterday, we registered the story of the Fortnite player who was recorded allegedly physically abusing his partner. The challenge is not with those who agreed it was a terrible thing, but for those who found the angles to deny it. One of the streamer’s audience may have called the police, but many didn’t. Many might have wrung their hands and shook their fists at the footage, but others did not.

Not least the streamer himself. He might have been dragged in by the constabulary, but the betrayal will be the focus that will be moving forward. The formative lessons, the evening in jail, the upcoming charges, may slip through the fingers as it is easier to blame those who you perceived to have wronged you. Your wife, your audience, your people. You victimise yourself. You trusted these people, they may have financially backed you, yet, they took her side.

If you think I’m projecting, or speculating, check out the discourse on social media:

 

 

Suddenly, it’s her fault. Victim blaming is a hell of a drug.

It’s not that it happened, it’s that it will happen again. Domestic violence is not an outlier, it’s cyclical. Viewing the footage through the eyes of someone who has experienced it, it is easy to see that this is not the only time that this has happened. Domestic violence is both macro and maximal. The first steps of abuse are not what was exhibited on that stream, but once that line is crossed, the morals are too. It becomes one you can freely march over when you see fit, and crucially, like in the case of MrDeadMoth, you can retreat over it, after the fact.

It’s all in the video. You hear both the audio of her striking her, then the warmer promises of apology, of capitulation. He’ll apologise, but not on camera. He’d rather repeat the dose instead of losing face, and that’s what it is. When it reveals itself in the public forum, when the bystander gets a glance, it becomes about the audience, not the victim. The aggressor becomes the victim, and the victim becomes the aggressor. The fact that he asked her to stop “calling him a f**king woman basher” while he’s doing exactly that, speaks volumes.

As for tomorrow, that is truly where the danger begins. When the headlines dissipate, and when the media’s attention has turned elsewhere, consider that the beginning. While an AVO has been served, and charged with assault he may have been, those are manmade barriers that offer the illusion of safety. It is often a mere piece of paper to fight a far greater threat. The line of violence has already been erased, the goalposts moved. Now there is more at stake. He’s lost more, because of her. While every act of domestic violence runs along the same lines, not every act of domestic violence makes the news. Not every aggressor has such a wide audience to play up to. The brutality of this instance, is that we found out about it. Not in the eyes of the children, or family, but the greater well-meaning audience.

There’s no solution we can point to this morning, beyond just don’t do it. Therefore, this footage is a tableau. There’s a lot we don’t know, and there’s much that we don’t have the responsibility of knowing. What happens to Grace, we don’t know – but we can guess. Leaving that environment to find another is a huge ask. It’s why we victims stay. We don’t keep an amount of money under a mattress for the day it happens. According to the language of her abuser, “F*** off you dog, you don’t pay the bills.” Finding a rental as a single parent with limited finance is difficult enough; finding one that allows you to live, and your kids to be educated, seems an impossible task. To endure this morning, pregnant no less, Grace stands at an extremely serious pivot. Not everyone has a safety net, not everyone has somewhere to stay. I wouldn’t be surprised if Grace does what many of us have done, and repeals the order, moving back in with him, because you believe it’s easier, because it’s better for the kids, because it seems that they’re truly sorry. Because it seems like the only real choice.

We all want to find a solution to this problem. If you do, ask. Look for the danger signs in your social circle that you might not have noticed before. If you have an opportunity to open up your house, do it. If you see this behaviour in people you know, call it out.

 

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