Suzanne Jacob’s response to sentencing of Wayne Couzens

One of the things that destabilises your sense of security for a long time after a domestic abuse situation is over, is that it was the person or people you were supposed to be able to count on, above all others, who hurt you. Your trust is taken and used against you. Exploited.

There was a shockwave going round the country on Wednesday as we found out that Wayne Couzens had used his police powers, authority and equipment to kidnap Sarah Everard off the street. In the dark, on her own, he told her he was a police officer and she had done something wrong. Applying blame. Asserting his position of power. Subverting all her trust.

This isn’t an accident, and it isn’t an isolated incident. Predatory individuals use their positions of power and trust, actively seeking out those positions and furthering them to increase their potential to do harm. This is a pattern in crimes that happen behind closed doors, and ones that happen in the public domain, too: police officers, teachers, religious leaders, spouses, partners, parents.

Add to this, the further dimension that you might be part of a group who has historically not been and in far too many cases is still not believed, supported, respected, and valued as an equal. Because of your ethnicity, gender, sexuality, disability, age… that predator knows they can attack you with a higher likelihood of getting away with it. So, they come for you. It isn’t an accident, and it isn’t an isolated incident.

The SafeLives strategy calls for ‘societal shifts’ which reduce ‘the motivation and oppportunity for different types of power to be abused’.

We hope this horrific case, the details currently ringing in our ears, and the murder of Sabina Nessa, will create the momentum we need for real and lasting change.

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