This section covers abuse — so don’t read it if you’re feeling particularly down or depressed; you’ll probably only feel worse by the end of it. :-\ On that cheerful note, on with the checkylist!
What constitutes abuse?
Abuse is defined as any action, as performed by a person in a state of power over the abused, that results in severe or repeated physical injury. The power relationship is necessary because otherwise it’s just assault. Sexual abuse comes under this category, but what we would call emotional abuse isn’t even on the Albionese radar.
(a) Is this regulated?
There’s certainly no Child Protective Services or anything like that. The only way the government would probably get involved is if there was serious risk that the abused person(s) would end up dead, or if there was some type of sexual abuse going on (particularly for girls).
Abuse of adults by other adults (say, a boss/employee relationship) is even harder to regulate, or it could be easier – you’re certainly not allowed to beat your employees to a pulp, and there would be little social stigma for reporting that your employer tried to beat you up. (Unless of course you’re a huge beefy guy and your employer is a little shrimp. Then people might be wondering why you didn’t just pound the employer into the ground.) Though there would be more stigma surrounding sexual harassment, unfortunately – people might wonder if the female (if the person on the low end of the totem pole was a female) somehow “invited” the attention. Plus, nobles/wealthy merchants might be able to make the problems go away with a well-placed bribe or two …
Marital abuse would be even harder to regulate, since the government is largely hands-off in terms of marriages. However, Albionese law does allow wives to seek a separation from an abusive husband. Depending upon the original marriage agreement, the wife might even get her dowry back and not be dependent upon her family/her own ingenuity for support. The Church might be persuaded to grant a divorce in particularly desperate cases … might.
Corporal punishment is normal in Albionese society for children, though not so much for wives. Common sense and basic parental love keeps 95% of cases of corporal punishment from getting out of hand. (I mean, if you break your kid’s arm, s/he is going to find it hard to work in the fields – plus you’ve got to pay the bonesetter to set it right, etc. Plus, most parents don’t want to break their kids’ arms because most parents won’t put their kids in that kind of pain!) That being said, it can be hard to tell when regular punishment crosses the line into abuse, and it takes a lot of gumption to question other people about their parenting practices.
Sexual abuse is different, because while bruises and bumps and even broken arms will heal, stolen virginity will impact girls for their whole lives. The Church also is likely to go ballistic over the deflowering of virgins, particularly when performed by people in positions of power and family members, so they’re likely to get involved. Unfortunately, sexual abuse of boys really isn’t on the Albionese radar.
As for marital abuse, while punishing one’s wife in this way is largely frowned upon in Albionese society (and it’s absolutely unheard of for a woman to abuse her husband, at least as far as they’re concerned), it’s hard for the state authorities to do anything if the woman won’t cooperate – how can they prove that she didn’t walk into a door? The Church also doesn’t have the power to physically separate and enforce the separation of a couple, though the nunnery might give shelter to a woman fleeing an abusive husband as long as the state backed them up.
(b) If so by whom?
The Church, with some help from local authorities. If it’s an adult/adult abuse situation, then the state is the main player, with some help from the Church if necessary (i.e. the nunnery might provide temporary shelter as described above).
The Church has positioned itself as being in charge of all children without parents or other relatives to take care of them, so if abuse got to the point where the child had to be removed from a home, the Church would take them in. Also, because of the position of confessors in Albion (I’m saying that they practice a rite similar to the Catholic ritual of confession) and the fact that nuns are often teachers, Church members are the most likely to hear of abusive situations and be able to act. That being said, before children were removed from a home, they would probably ask the local lord (if applicable) for permission (with whatever religious browbeating was necessary) and for a few guards to help with the physical removal.
The Church doesn’t take any real responsibility for adults in abusive situations, since they don’t technically need anyone to take care of them, so that’s all on the state.
(c) Does this change by religion?
N/A, one religion.
(d) Does this change by social standing?
Sort of. Nobles and wealthy merchants don’t practice as much corporal punishment as peasants and poorer merchants; also nobles and wealthy merchants often just have less to do with their children, so they don’t have as many opportunities to be abusive. They’re also less likely to practice marital abuse, because they’re more likely to have complex marital agreements giving the woman a large degree of protection. (Like Lancelot promised for Leona.)
Sexual abuse is equally frowned upon by all levels of society, except of course for the sickos practicing it.
Emotional abuse, alas, is just as likely to show up in a noble castle as it is in a peasant hovel. Bors never laid a hand on his girls, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been abusing them since the day they were born …
As far as the nobles/corporal punishment things go, they’re more likely to have someone else doing most of the day-to-day raising of their children – and that someone is likely to be of a lower social status and less likely to physical punish the children, in case the parent objects. (Of course, this isn’t to say that it’s impossible for abuse to happen in this situation, either by the parents or the nursemaids.) They’re wealthy and can afford to hire someone to take care of all the messy parts of childrearing, plus they have “more important” things they “need” to be doing.
As far as marital abuse is concerned, if you know your wife is not only legally entitled to walk away, but entitled to take her probably-substantial dowry as well, you’re that much less likely to beat her up. Marital rape, though, you could probably get away with if you didn’t have a male heir yet. (That goes for all levels of society.)
Virginity is pretty important for all levels of society, so rape/sexual abuse is equally abhorred by all.
As for emotional abuse … it’s not regulated, you’re not going to get your kids taken away no matter how much you screw up their heads, your employees might quit but you can always find new ones, and unless your wife has someone willing to shelter her, she’s pretty much stuck with you. (The husband also couldn’t throw his wife out of the house for something like emotional abuse; he would have to prove infidelity or something equally serious in the eyes of the law – though if the wife was abusing the children, physically, that might do it.) So if you’re screwed up enough to do that to someone else, you can probably get away with it no matter who you are.
(e) Does this change by race?
It’s easier for most other races to get away with abusing others. They’re also, by and large, estranged from the Church, so wives/children often can’t really go there for help. Of course, this doesn’t make members of other races more likely to be abusive inherently, though the poverty and stresses they’re under might lead to an abusive situation.
On the other hand, if there is a situation that the authorities deem is abusive enough to take action, people of different races have that much less protection from the authorities. (I.e. Erin, Wulf and Brother Tuck.)
Because the authorities really don’t care about them; as long as they’re not causing trouble in public, the authorities don’t give a damn – and on the odd occasion that the authorities do care, the people don’t have the power and resources to fight back.
(f) Does this change by age?
Children are far more likely to be abused than adults, physically at least. Sexual abuse can happen to children or adults (generally wives – if a woman is sexually abused or assaulted by someone other than her husband, it’s called rape or sexual assault and is handled differently). Emotional abuse is a free-for-all.
Because of Albion’s stance on corporal punishment generally, and because children are automatically under the direct power of another person or persons.
(g) Does this change by gender?
Somewhat. Husbands can have more latitude to physically/sexually abuse wives and get away with it. The society is also patriarchal enough that most women wouldn’t think to physically/sexually abuse their husbands. However, as far as the abuse of children and people in other power relationships is concerned, men and boys can come in for their share of abuse, too.
The country of Albion, though far more progressive and egalitarian than actual medieval Europe, is still a patriarchy. Men get more get-out-of-jail-free cards; plus, there is also still the perception that the man is the head of the family and is allowed to do as he pleases, within reason. What counts as “within reason” is somewhat in flux between different class standings, families, hell, different people.
(h) Is abuse punishable by law?
It depends on what it is and how severe it is.
Abuse isn’t very well defined under Albionese law. You’re not allowed to kill, rape, or severely injure persons beneath you, but how far you go is constantly changing under public perception. You’re far more likely to have your kids taken away, or your wife leave you, than be punished for the abuse you commit.
Of course, if the abuse leads to a death, that’s a whole different ballgame, and the state is far more likely to prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law.
(ii) If so, who punishes them?
The state, the various legal bodies.
The Church doesn’t have the power to punish abusers, only to help the abused, and the state is the only other body able to do so.
- Does this change by religion?
N/A, one religion.
- Does this change by social standing?
The wealthy are more likely to get away with abusing others.
The wealthy have more resources to escape the law (whether by fleeing the country, hiring a kickass lawyer, paying bribes to make trouble go away if possible). Plus, people have a great deal of deference toward “noble blood” and are less likely to report crimes committed by a nobleman or woman.
- Does this change by race?
Only insomuch as people of different races are likely to be of lower social standing, and less looked after by the authorities.
- Does this change by age?
Well, I certainly can’t see a child being arrested for abusing others …
I guess you just have to be an adult for this kind of charge to stick; plus, if a child is somehow abusing someone else, families and schools are far more likely to try to handle it internally than go to the law.
- Does this change by gender?
Men are more likely to be prosecuted and punished for being abusive than women.
Men are likely to be abusive to their wives as well as their children, whereas women might physically abuse their children, but not their husbands. Women also would find it hard to be classified as sexual abusers under Albionese law; Albionese law is only concerned with rape against females, really; not the multitude of actions that can lead up to it. And they define rape as penis in vagina, so … kind of hard for a woman to accomplish that. (Though she could be arrested and punished as an accessory to it.) Lastly, emotional abuse isn’t regulated or punished at all.
(iii) How are they punished?
Depending on the severity of the offense, it could range from a few nights or months in jail all the way up to death.
Albionese law just doesn’t take abuse very seriously – an abuser is far more likely to find his or her kids taken away from him/her or his wife leaving him than to be punished under the law. However, if things get really bad, the law might get involved and punish with jail time.
Death is likely to be used as a punishment only under really, really serious circumstances: if abuse led to a death or injured a person so severely that they were on the point of death (i.e. murder or attempted murder), or sexual abuse if the circumstances were particularly heinous according to Albionese lights. “Particularly heinous” could range from someone abusing a very small child to, say, a commoner tutor sexually abusing a young noble girl in his charge.
- Does this change by religion?
N/A, one religion.
- Does this change by social standing?
The wealthy are more likely to get away with it or have mitigated punishment.
More resources to make the problem go away somehow.
- Does this change by race?
Well, since the authorities already took an interest and found the person of a different race guilty, they’re likely to be punished more harshly.
They’re not likely to have resources to help them get away with it – plus, owing to the general social stigma they face, they’re more likely to have the book thrown at them through plain old racism.
- Does this change by age?
It depends. The very young and very old might be treated with some leniency, but this would be up to an individual judge’s discretion.
Well, for the very old, if they’re likely to keel over and die in the next ten minutes, what’s the point of giving them a ten-year sentence? For the very young, their youth can be pleaded as an excuse. But there’s nothing codified in law to treat the very old/very young specially; there’s usually just sentencing guidelines that the judge applies as he (usually he) sees fit.
- Does this change by gender?
Not officially, though a judge might use the sentencing guidelines differently for a man or a woman, and depending on the circumstances of the crime.
There’s no gender differentiation in the sentencing guidelines, just the judge’s … judgment.
(i) Are there government regulations regarding abuse?
Some pretty paltry ones. You can’t put your children or wife into the medieval equivalent of the hospital, so no severe injuries. You’re not allowed to approach a young woman sexually without her permission or outside of marriage. (Of course, if you do take a young woman’s virginity and she’s fine with it but her father isn’t too happy, he can sue you for “damages” since her value on the marriage market has just tanked. Though if you offered to marry her yourself, you might get off in a court of law, depending on who you were and who she was.) You’re not allowed to kill anyone unless you can prove it was self-defense or a complete freak accident.
Albionese law gives latitude to heads of families to run their families as they see fit, but at the same time, there’s a limit.
(ii) Does this change by religion?
N/A, one religion.
(iii) Does this change by social standing?
There aren’t separate regulations for nobles and commoners, though it would be hard for a commoner to win a case of this nature against a noble, unless the commoner had other nobles/the Crown/the Church as a backer.
First of all, the legal system of Albion is run by the nobles – at the moment, Pellinore Gwynedd. And the nobles pretty much all know each other, whereas they don’t know all the commoners. So if Noble A is charged with abusing Peasant B and Pellinore was in charge of hearing the case, and he knows Noble A and thinks it’s unlikely he would do this … well, what are the odds that Noble A will be found guilty, unless Peasant B’s case is pretty ironclad?
(iv) Does this change by race?
There’s nothing spelled out in the law code that says, “You may abuse Plantsims with impunity, but if a Plantsim abuses a regular Sim, they get thrown in jail for ten years,” but at the same time … people can get away with abusing Plantsims, and good luck to a Plantsim getting away with abusing a normal Sim.
Because racism is alive and well in Albion. It may not be codified by law, but it’s still there.
(v) Does this change by age?
Only if there is a parent/legal guardian-child relationship; then, the parent is allowed to practice corporal punishment (within reason, though it’s hard to tell, sometimes, when exactly the line is crossed). Teachers are also allowed some corporal punishment, though generally less than parents. (Hey, they only have to put up with the kids six hours a day!) But if a random adult walks up and smacks a random kid, there’s going to be trouble.
Parents have leeway to punish their children – other adults don’t have that kind of leeway.
(vi) Does this change by gender?
Only in the case of a husband/wife relationship. Random guys are not allowed to assault random women.
Husbands are still considered to be the head of the family, they have – officially, in law – rights to maltreat members of their family. But social perceptions of what is ok and what is not ok are changing.
(j) Are there religious regulations regarding abuse?
Sort of. The Church does back the power of the head-of-the-family to dispense justice as he sees fit. But at the same time, the Church espouses mercy and forgiveness – in other words, they’ll countenance a spanking every now and then as a necessary evil, but true abuse they won’t.
The Church, like the rest of the society, is based on a patriarchal, what-the-oldest-male-says-goes family system. At the same time, there’s enough pull from the more pacifist elements within it that they can’t just back up the status quo, they have to expound proper Wrightian humility, charity and mercy – none of which is compatible with beating your wife and kids to a pulp.
(ii) Does this change by social standing?
The Church believes that all Sims are equal in the eyes of Wright (though assigned to different stations during their time on this earth), so it doesn’t have different social regulations for abuse. All good Wrightians are to act with compassion and mercy whether you’re filthy rich or dirt poor.
(iii) Does this change by race?
The Church expects less from other races, and some more cynical members of the Church might greet the revelation that someone of a different race was being abusive with glee. Conversely, if a person of a different race was being abused, the Church would not be likely to help them out.
The Church is mostly convinced that Sims of other races are unholy demon-spawn – when they screw up, it’s confirming the Church’s opinion of them; when they get victimized, they’re being given what they deserve as unholy demon-spawn. Mind, this isn’t to say that all Church members are this cold-blooded and heartless. Some might actually practice the compassion that the rest of the Church preaches. This is just the prevailing mindset of the institution.
(iv) Does this change by age?
Not really, unless in a parent-child relationship, and the young might get a bit more leniency because they might not know any better. Though the Church can’t really punish people anyway, they can only hector and scold.
Because the Church recognizes that parents have to raise and control their offspring, and at the same time that people who are younger might not have all the wisdom of their elders.
(v) Does this change by gender?
Sometimes. Men get more leeway for abusing others than women – it’s in their nature, while most of the Church believes that women are supposed to be especially gentle and compassionate. But on this there’s actually a pretty wide range of Church opinion.
Some factions of the Church are very into patriarchy: they believe that the wife is essentially the property of the husband for him to do what he likes with, short of killing her. This is Wright’s Will and how it was supposed to be from the beginning. Other factions of the Church are convinced that a compassionate and merciful Wright would not continence the abuse of other Sims for any reason. There’s quite a bit of infighting on this issue, and whether or not an abused woman (because even if a man was getting abused, both factions of the Church would probably laugh at him if he asked for help) would get help from the Church if she needed it would depend on which faction she was able to get to.
(k) If both, are these ever in conflict?
Well, they’re both in agreement in that they’re kind of laissez-faire about the whole thing. Plus the Church can chalk a lot of stuff the State lets slide up to “necessary evils.” A big case that would win over either the Church or the State and try to make one change the other’s views hasn’t really happened yet.
(ii) If so, who usually wins?
(l) Is child abuse different from other types of abuse?
… I just spent most of the following questions talking about child abuse … so I’m going to say no, not really.