Abuse is not personal, it’s criminal

On Thursday night (14 May) I was listening to 947 (Highveld) on the radio. The presenters were talking about the rumours that Patrick Dempsey (Derek Shepherd) was fired from Grey’s Anatomy for cheating on his wife. They started talking about Shonda Rhimes and how she fires people for personal reasons.

Isaiah Washington was fired for being homophobic, Katherine Heigl was fired for being a diva on set and Columbus Short was fired for abusing his wife.  The presenters alluded to the fact that although these actors had done “bad” things, these things were personal and did not affect their work.

Now first of all, how are we as people saying it’s okay for Isaiah Washington to be homophobic, as long as his homophobia does not affect his work? That would be the equivalent of saying it’s okay for someone to be racist and use hateful language at work as long as it doesn’t affect their targets. So no, that’s not okay.

Secondly, if Katherine Heigl really was a diva on set are we assuming that that did not affect the other characters on set? Agh honestly that does not matter to me as much as the presenters saying Columbus was great at his job and he was a brilliant character so he did not deserve to lose his job. Wow.

So are we saying that when you are brilliant at what you do it does not matter that you use your wife as a punching bag at home because well, that’s personal – it’s what you do in your private space.

So riddle me this then 94.7 presenters, if we found out that Columbus Short was actually a hijacker in his private life and selling the cars he stole, would we still see that as something he does in his personal life? I mean we are very aware that this would not affect his work right? But no, we would not be willing to have a hijacking thief on our television screens. We would not want a criminal to keep his job. We would not want him to have a normal life when really what he should be doing is doing time.

But it’s different when you’re abusing a woman right? Because abuse is a household issue. It’s not that bad, his wife must file charges and deal with it. Right? No. Unfortunately, the justice system is not favourable to women when it comes to abusive partners. So tell me, is it not necessary for employers to make a stand where necessary? Why should they keep abusers as part of their staff when they know it’s wrong? No. It’s not personal – it’s criminal and it’s not okay for people to treat these issues as less-than. No. ​

These presenters are influential. They are people who inform public opinion and it was so irresponsible for them to trivialise an issue that we are always fighting against. Every single day we fight for women’s rights to be taken seriously, we fight so hard for crimes against women to be treated equally to other crimes. This was not okay and I really hope that people will be careful about what they say and that they do not just mouth off about serious issues. Abuse is not personal, it’s not a joke.

No, just no.

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