It is estimated that every 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men are affected by domestic violence in their lifetime. That’s 4.3million of women enduring domestic violence in their lifetime. Wembly football stadiums’ capacity is 90k people. That’s equivalent to 48 packed Wembley stations or nearly a half of London population (current population of London is estimated around 8-9mil people). 1.2mil of women suffer domestic violence every year.
Research led by the Alliance for Women and Girls at Risk conducted that women affected by domestic violence often additionally face problems of mental ill-health, addiction, homelessness, and poverty. More than half of the women affected have a mental health condition, 1 in 3 have attempted suicide.
Flintshire county has 159 children on the Child Protection Register. Fifty-seven of those registered for threats of their emotional wellbeing and 34 for a combination of physical and emotional abuse. Domestic violence and substance misuse have been blamed for an increase in the number of children considered to be at risk in Flintshire.
Later in life, these children are at higher risk for substance abuse, teenage pregnancy and criminal behaviour than those raised in homes without violence.
It’s not only women or children affected by domestic abuse. Earlier in November, the Telegraph reported that the number of domestic abuse reported by men has risen from 10.4% in 2014-15 to 14.7% in 2018.
What is domestic abuse?
Domestic abuse is any type of controlling, bullying, threatening or violent behaviour between people in a relationship. Domestic abuse includes emotional, physical, sexual, financial or psychological abuse.
Why do people stay in abusive relationships?
Unpacking the question above is difficult. There are many reasons why an individual stays in an abusive relationship. No one remains in a toxic relationship for the pain.
Often abuse victims (or survivors, I like that term better) stay for love and choose to block out any evidence that they have that their abuser will likely never change. Many abuse survivors cherish the positive traits that their partner has. A study by LiveScience in 2010, found that 54% of participants saw their partners as “highly dependable” and 21% felt that the men in their lives “possessed significant positive traits such as being affectionate”.
Other survivors have PTSD. In these cases sever detachment is created, where the victim often can’t remember the abuse at all. “Dissociating victims can’t leave the abuse because they aren’t psychologically present enough to recall the pain of what happened,” explains Dr Craig Malkin.
There are other reasons, why victims choose to remain in an abusive relationship:
- the abused is dependant on the abuser financially and cut off from friends and family;
- fear – 75% of domestic violence murders happen after the victim has left;
- some sufferers of the abuse simply don’t know that they are in an abusive relationship;
- ‘in-closet’ LGBTQ+ individuals might remain in a dangerous relationship in fear of being ‘outed’.
“But perhaps one of the most formidable and dangerous obstacles abuse victims face is their searing guilt and shame; they’re incredibly adept at blaming themselves for the abuse,” points out Dr Malkin. Victim self-blaming comes from the perpetrators of violence. Scholars refer to this as the Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender (DARVO) strategy to confuse and silence their victims. A study carried out last year found that individuals, who had been exposed to higher levels of DARVO during a confrontation also tended to report more feelings of self-blame. In real life DARVO might sound something like this: “It’s your fault I beat you, you’re always XYZ me, and you never do anything right. If you just were to be more XYZ, I wouldn’t do it.” Furthermore, research shows two types of self-blame:
- “characterological” self-blame – this is when the victim blames parts of their personality;
- “behavioural” self-blame – this is when the victim blames specific behaviours as a cause for the abuse.
In real life, “characterological” self-blame looks something like this: “It’s my fault he kicked me, I am a bad partner.” An example of “behavioural” self-blame could be: “It’s my fault I got slapped last night, I really shouldn’t have asked about his work.”
If I close my eyes…
If I close my eyes, I can still hear him beat her. If I close my eyes, I can still smell the metallic scent of blood. If I close my eyes, I can still see the table he threw land where I was sitting just a second ago, before I crawled into her lap. If I close my eyes, I can feel on my skin, how cold it was that night, when we ran outside and hid in the bushes. If I close my eyes, I can still see her from my window wandering around in the dark and calling our dog, that she had to let out because otherwise, he would have probably killed it. If I close my eyes, I can smell the alcohol on his breath, and I can see the rage in his eyes. If I close my eyes, I can hear the thud her head made when he smashed it against the wall over and over and over and over again. If I close my eyes, I can see the black eye that she desperately was trying to hide at 6 am before work with poorly applied makeup. If I close my eyes, I can hear clear as day all the excuses she would come up with, how she fell, how she slipped, that he didn’t mean to stab her, that she was in an accident. If I close my eyes, I can see in their eyes that they didn’t believe her yet they did nothing.
It’s irrational and uncalled for but … I’m so god damn angry.
I’m so angry that she never left. I’m so angry she never nurtured me, because god damn, she had other shit to deal with. I’m so angry she didn’t love me enough to leave. I’m so angry she was afraid. I’m so angry she always forgave him. I’m so angry she would let her anger out on me. I’m so angry this screwed me up. I’m so angry because I could have had a normal life – crippling depression free. I’m so angry she loved him more than me. Because how could a mother that really fucking loved me stay with that monster? I’m so angry because I fucking care for him. I’m so angry because I love him too. I’m so angry because sometimes I don’t have it in me to cry for myself, but I cry for him.
Useful links and info: https://www.womensaid.org.uk/information-support/useful-links/#1448371483783-c25a29d3-e022
Find out if you’re in an abusive relationship: https://www.womensaid.org.uk/the-survivors-handbook/am-i-in-an-abusive-relationship/
How to get help:
24-hour National Domestic Violence freephone helpline: 0808 2000 247
Help somenone else suffering from domestic abuse: https://www.womensaid.org.uk/the-survivors-handbook/im-worried-about-someone-else/