how it is exercised and its consequences

The Supreme Court has confirmed a sentence of 18 years and 2 months in prison for a man who mistreated, controlled and threatened his partner and raped her minor daughter. A sentence in which the judges of the criminal chamber leave in writing what they call the "alphabet of the habitual abuse"with the 27 characteristics that define this crime.

The events studied by the Supreme Court took place in A Coruña in 2018. The convicted person, a consumer of alcohol and cocaine, began to control his partner's mobile phone while insulting and threatening the woman. "I'm going to cut you and your daughter into a corner," he once uttered. One day he took advantage of the fact that his partner was away from home to rape his daughter at knife point: the minor was already suffering from depression at the time for having been the victim of another sex crime, something he knew.

The Supreme Court, with magistrate Vicente Magro as speaker, has confirmed his conviction, highlighting the "shocking account of proven facts" and also endorsing the account of the woman and her daughter. The judges emphasize the "special cruelty" of habitual abusers and reflect how it is normal for victims to hate their aggressor without this having to automatically invalidate their statement.

The sentence also assures that "animosity, hatred and even the desire that some evil happens to the accused are human and logical symptoms, when the victim has been the accused himself." This does not mean that women lie when they denounce their aggressors, he points out when saying that "this does not mean that when the victim declares he is missing the truth. "

It is at this point that the judges bring together in almost twenty pages the "characteristic notes of the alphabet of habitual abuse" to examine from the legal point of view if attitudes like those of this convict can be incardinated in this crime.

The "ABC" and the Rhodes Law

The Penal Code includes the crime of habitual mistreatment in the home in its article 173.2, pointing to those who exercise "physical or mental" on their partner or ex-partner and even on their relatives and carries sentences of up to three years in prison. It is considered an aggravating circumstance that this mistreatment takes place in "the common home or at the home of the victim", as has happened in the case of A Coruña, which was finally sentenced by the Supreme Court. This crime, the judges say, "has a specific mission of imparting a greater criminal reproach to such an execrable conduct as repeated abuse."

In this sentence, the judges draw up a list of 27 characteristics, from A to Z. In it, the Supreme Court highlights, for example, how it is usual for there to be a psychological submission that “determines the paralysis of making free decisions for the victim, since that the victim is not aware that he is being victimized (…) it allows the victim to be unable to get out of the cycle of habitual violence exercised by the perpetrator ”. The silence of the victim for years before reporting does not affect their credibility: it lasts "until reaching a point where, after a serious event, they finally decide to report because they have reached a limit from which the victim can no longer bear any more acts of abuse towards her and, sometimes, also towards her children ".

The silence of the victims

Remember also that "the absence of prior complaints is not understandable as an untrue or inaccurate statement, or that the victim is untrue" and that a habitual abuser "develops, thus, with his family a clear and diaphanous message from which we could call the hierarchy of family violence ”.

The sentence also explains that the sexual assault on the daughter translates into a psychological assault on her mother. The judges explain at this point the Child Protection Law known as'Rhodes Law'is in line with what the Supreme Court said in last year's resolutions when it spoke of “sexual family victimization”. The sentence affirms that the abuser "does not conclude his domination in the field of psychological abuse and threats, but also in the sexual one, and, in addition, with the daughter of the appellant's partner, which causes gender victimization."

The Supreme Court is also very clear when explaining that "habitual mistreatment produces constant and continuous damage from which the victim, or victims" who, it continues, "have the perception that they cannot get out of it." This, as detailed by the Supreme Court as a criterion to take into account when convicting an abuser for this crime, "causes situations of fear, even, and a feeling of not being able to report."


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