Justin Lee Collins found guilty of harassment
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Justin Lee Collins found guilty of harassment
This has not been a good week for women.
Aside from the horrific experiences of Jimmy Saville's abuse victims and the shocking Taliban shooting of a 14 year old girl in Pakistan, there has also been the Justin Lee Collins case - where a man found guilty of harassment and causing fear of violence in his relationship, has walked free with a small dent in his bank account and few hours community service to do.
Of these three autrocities, Justin Lee Collins is perhaps the only one who is most able to be held to account and made to repent for his crimes.
Jimmy Saville lies dead in his grave, and the Taliban's power - created from a reign embedded with the fear of violence - continues to elude justice.
Yet comedian Justin Lee Collins, available for court hearings and well and truly alive, was still able to make a mockery of the justice system.
From the various teenage girls raped and abused at the hands of a well loved 'national treasure' to 14-year old Malala Yousufzai, to Justin Lee Collin's former partner Anna Larke - all of these individuals will have felt fear from one source of male power or another.
The Justin Lee Collins case could have sent a message to women (and men) across the country that emotional, verbal and psychological abuse in a relationship is not tolerated by the justice system in the UK, but conversely it proved the opposite.
Anna Larke spent nine months in a relationship with Justin Lee Collins, who made her life a living hell. She told the court: "It destroyed my life, everything I had. I had no confidence,I didn't want to go out, I don't want someone else to go through what I did."
You could argue that the Taliban do a similar thing (instilling fear of violence in the population) while Jimmy Saville's victims will have also felt a similar state of fear and isolation.
Whether you have been abused as a child, or as an adult, or as a citizen, the fact remains the same - it's unacceptable.
Nonetheless Justin Lee Collins was made to account for his crimes, which included making his girlfriend write down every sexual experience she had had, verbally attacking her, calling her "a slag", "riddled with STD's" and "covered in cellulite", throwing a sat nav at her, spitting at her and threatening to kill her.
And that's just a few of the incidents that came to light in the court case. No doubt there were many other instances and details of shocking abuse that will have made her life a misery throughout their time together.
Sadly the judge sided with Justin Lee Collins in this case. Judge John Plumstead said that Anna Larke, was " a woman with many difficulties" and took the line from Justin's defence that he had lost control when trying to "deal with the difficulties."
What really needs to be dealt with here is the ingrained misogyny which is within the justice system, which allows 'domestic' and 'personal' cases to be given disproportionally light sentences.
Germaine Greer may have coined the "personal is political" back in the seventies, but it continues to be the case. How far have we really come?
A few hours (140 to be exact) of community service? No problem. And a £3,500 fine for damages? Ouch - but hey, it could have been worse.
What should have happened, in a week where a teenage boy was jailed for 12 weeks for trolling on Facebook during the search for missing five year old April, was a jail sentence for Justin Lee Collins, so that could become an example to every psychological abuser in the UK.
Derogatory comments, death threats, spitting, hitting, tantrums and venomous outbursts, controlling behaviour, interrogation. All part and parcel of many abusive relationships happening right now.
But the problem lies much deeper than simply jailing someone for abusive treatment. Abusers like Mr Collins, who forced his girlfriend to throw out DVDs featuring any actors she found attractive, are not just egocentric, unreasonable and threatening, they're mentally ill.
To my mind, this behaviour forms part of Narcisstic Personality Disorder which is characterised by the National Library of Science as someone with the following symptoms:
While I cannot say whether Justin Lee Collins had such a disorder, having been in an abusive relationship for 18 months I know firsthand how Anna Larke will have spent hours confused and crying and fearing for her safety, and that of her family.
How her confidence will have been eroded until she felt completely worthless and how her identity will have been truly lost as she tried to please Justin's every whim.
Speaking from experience, when someone you love abuses your trust and treats you with both adoration and disgust, threatens to slit your throat if you sing a song they don't like, or accuses you of disrespecting them by speaking to other men, (or in the case of Justin Lee Collins, call you names, forces you to sleep facing towards him, and has violent outbursts) the emotional scars that form are deep and long lasting.
And while Anna Larke took her case to the courts with the hope that no one else would have to go through the catalogue of abuse that she did, the sentence that Justin Lee Collins received will not be enough of a deterrent to stop other abusers from thinking twice.
In my view what Justin Lee Collins needs is not a financial clip round the ears, or some community service but a psychological assessment and a proper jail sentence.
I commend Anna Larke's bravery in taking this case to the courts. When someone terrifies you and petrifies you to this extent, facing them as a strong, independent woman who will not take any more, is truly inspiring.
If only the sentence matched the crime.
Article Plan Justin Lee Collins found guilty of harassment