The traditional popular and usually violent puppet show that is Punch and Judy dates back to the 16th century when Pulcinella – who later became Mr Punch made his first recorded appearance in England on 9th May 1662, which is traditionally reckoned as Mr Punch’s UK birthday.
Prior to the mid 1800s, most legal systems viewed wife beating as a valid expercise of a husband’s authority over his wife.
In 2018, a school cancels Punch and Judy show over fears it glorifies domestic abuse.
Like many other children, over the years, I have sat and marvelled at the wooden characters inside the box, listening to their funny voices as the crocodile, baby or Judy would fall victim to Mr Punch and his antics.
I’m guessing I was probably quite young when I watched the show and in all honesty since my adult life, I have never given it a second though.
I have been a survivor of domestic abuse – physical and psychological – since November 2006 when my ex-partner slapped me splitting my lip as I was holding my 10- month-old daughter. I recently had 8 weeks counselling which I found useful for me, although I did find it frustrating that I couldn’t remember specific things from my childhood but apparently a traumatic experience can give you something called brain freeze where there’s certain things that are blocked out.
The physical abuse, for me, didn’t start straight away because he was so very charming to being with – like all abusers – and I didn’t know he was already abusing me with coercive controlling before the black eye came. Like most survivors, you are in complete shock because up until that moment the person you love has never hurt you, well not physically anyway.
The first time they physically hurt you, they are full of so much remorse frantically telling you how sorry they are, how much they love you and promises of how it will never happen again.
Of course, you absolutely believe every word that comes out of their mouth, why wouldn’t you, but it’s all part of doing what they can to gain power and control over us.
There wasn’t too much physical abuse during our on-off 3 year relationship, the majority was psychological.
I was twenty-three years old when I met him, I had no idea what-so-ever what domestic abuse was, I had never even heard the words said before. I learned about domestic abuse the hard way.
I can honestly say, at no point during that toxic relationship did I ever think back to watching Punch & Judy shows during my childhood and in all honesty I can’t see a link between the two, other than they are both something that have been accepted and tolerated for many years.
I can’t say that if I ever saw a Punch & Judy show now, I would find it funny, I don’t think it glorifies domestic abuse as such but I do think it’s full of violence and the way society is today, it could quiet easily be misinterpreted into people thinking It’s acceptable to go around hitting others. But are we really living in the 20th century where we have to tell people how to behave and what’s right and what’s not?
I also feel that by saying Punch & Judy glorifies domestic abuse but is it not minimizing the whole cycle and simply focusing on the physical nature?
Domestic abuse is a real-life issue that must be talked about in such a way it educates our young people and makes them aware of it.
2 women are killed each week in England and Wales by a partner or former partner, I don’t think banning Punch and Judy shows will make significant difference.
To make any difference at all we have to admit that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men will experience domestic abuse at some point during their lifetime. We have to be honest about this. We need to be teaching society about the early warning signs, the characteristics of abusers and how to safely leave an abusive relationship. We need to get the conversation started and keep talking about it to give others the confidence to speak out
We have to stand united on this and do something mandatory and as nation. The best thing we can do for our young people and pupils is to arm them with awareness. Now that’s the way to do it….