I watched an hour-long “based on a true story” drama, Murdered By My Boyfriend on BBC iPlayer. This was because I felt I was floundering with one thread of my novel, which deals with domestic abuse. I watched it for inspiration about handling such a plot line, although the type of abuse in my novel is somewhat different from the type in the TV programme. It did reassure me that I’m not totally on the wrong path, but it was difficult viewing and I could hardly watch it by the end. I stayed upset for quite a while afterwards.
I sometimes struggle to understand how people can deliberately hurt other people. That’s probably good for my moral development, but not so good for being a writer. It’s horrifying that every week in the UK, two women are murdered by their partners. If that was being done by a serial killer, or some kind of terrorist group, the papers would be full of it. Instead, it’s ignored.
I feel awkward writing about violence against women as a man. Like whatever the equivalent is of a ‘white saviour’ for feminists. But I became aware from both online accounts and what people said in group therapy and support groups that I’ve attended that the link between abuse (of all kinds) and mental illness is very strong, so it seemed worth talking about in a novel about mental illness. I also became aware that very few people in the frum (religious Orthodox Jewish) community are talking about it, for various reasons. Jewish Women’s Aid has posters in some Jewish shops and shuls (synagogues) and even had a billboard poster up at one point, but a while back they ran an advert in The Jewish Weekly with one woman’s story and there were complaints about how graphic it was in its description of sexual violence, which makes me feel there’s a 1950s atmosphere in parts of the community where some things are just not spoken about. Given that the number of people writing any fiction in the frum world is vanishingly small, it seemed important to talk about it.
I got woken up early by another morning minyan (prayer meeting) in the garden next door. Years ago I heard a definition of fundamentalism that has always stuck with me:
“If you’re absolutely certain that you’re making the proper decision, and what you’re doing is the right thing to do — it doesn’t matter if you hurt people in the process. You don’t even owe them an apology.”
I’m beginning to wonder if my next-door neighbours are meeting that definition of fundamentalism. To be honest, this has attitude little to do with religion and more to do with selfishness and entitlement (e.g. Donald Trump). It still annoys me though.
I don’t have so much to talk about today in terms of emotions and thoughts. There were some anxious and despairing thoughts at times, but I’m trying not to focus on them, although I’m still struggling to remember to greet them and sit with them.
I went for a reasonably good run, considering it was hotter than I expected. I did get a bit of an exercise migraine, although not too bad. E. and I had our weekly Torah study Skype chat, which was good.
I’m struggling with keeping up with the news at the moment, but “Is Cummings Going?” ought to be a headline somewhere.