Schyman: my husband assaulted me

The motivation behind Gudrun Schyman's recent bizarre proposal to tax men became clearer this week as she publicly accused her ex-husband, Lars Westman, of assaulting her on numerous occasions.

“It was a terrible fear to be beaten, to see how his look turned black” said Schyman, the former leader of the Left Party, to the women’s magazine, Amelia.

Lars Westman is a documentary producer, currently re-married and living in Brazil. He denied the accusations and said that the two are still friends and have a good relation.

“I have absolutely not assaulted her”, he said.

His latest project is a movie about love and will run on SVT on November 13th. The five loves of his life will appear in the movie, including Schyman, whose comments to Aftonbladet did nothing to clear up the matter.

“I have nothing to discuss through the press,” she told the paper. “We are friends. We have built a friendly relation with no conflicts or tensions and wish each other all the best.”

But Expressen had a different version of the story, as Lars Westman told the tabloid about his turbulent marriage with Schyman:

“I assaulted Schyman? Well – whether or not I hit her depends on how you interpret the word ‘hit’. I slapped her. Is that assault?”

Schyman apparently kept quiet about their fraught marriage for many years and said that only a few people were aware of the mistreatment. Westman took issue with that word, too.

“To me mistreatment is when a fight ends in one person hitting the other, it’s bloody. That’s assault – it’s a boxing match,” he said.

“But there is also psychological mistreatment, where one hurts the other with words or silence. A bruise in the soul takes longer time to heal.”

22,000 cases of violence against women are reported every year in Sweden. Studies have shown that twice as many women are assaulted but choose, for different reasons, to suffer quietly.

According to Sveriges Radio, a recent cooperation between police and doctors in Västerås has led to more convictions for violence against women. The reason is apparently that a ‘medical-legal expert’ and not the police examines the victim within 24 hours of the alleged assault.

Ireen von Wachenfeldt, chairwoman for the national organisation for women’s clinics, told SR that this approach allows women to back up their story with facts.

“This is a good way of securing woman’s side of the story,” she said. “We focus on the woman and we hope that the rest of the country will also adopt this procedure.”

SR reported that prosecutors in Västerås and medical-legal doctors began working together three years ago since so many cases of violence against women did not reach the trial stage and the data gathered by the police was rarely used as evidence.

According to Dagens Nyheter, the number of cases solved has more than doubled since it became the doctor’s responsibility to gather evidence of assault.

Police departments in Gävle and Linköping will soon adopt the procedure but Ireen von Wachenfeldt wants the rest of the country to follow suit.

“The biggest problem is that the victim is not taken seriously. The focus is still on the man,” she said.

“The man can simply say the woman tripped on a mat or fell down the stairs and the authorities will believe him. This project will focus on the woman. The big problem today is that the authorities don’t listen to the victim.”

Sources: Dagens Nyheter, Amelia, Expressen, Aftonbladet