As I start my seven day much needed holiday from my safety work, I am turning into supergeek and planning to catch up on my Gaia theory reading for a climate change non-fiction work. Perhaps I will read a textbook and take a walk in the countryside to photograph a stone circle. I have also developed a new character for novel four. Samantha is a woman who tries hard to keep her temper under control and doesn’t always succeed. Sounds a little boring, you may think, but read on.
My idea for Samantha came from many different sources. I was reading the birdsonawireblog about the Chris Brown and Rihanna story regarding domestic violence, which continues now with Brown pleading not guilty to the charge. The blog deals with the perception of women ‘asking for it’ and becoming a co-perpetrator.
I subscribe to Google Analytics. I also blog about domestic violence from time to time. On studying the hits on my blog, most people have looked at my domestic violence content with search terms such as ‘looking for a way out’, ‘battered women’ and ‘help me’. When I realised that women were actually searching the Internet for help on how to escape violent relationships, my heart sunk. Where is the government funding?
In the town where I live there has just been a major re-organisation of funding for children’s services. As the birdsonawire blog states, violence extends further than just the perpetrator and victim – it affects all the people around them. Children are the often unheard victims. In a town in Northern UK, population 217000+, the domestic violence services are stretched to the limit. There are just around 4.5 full time funded jobs to deal with children affected by domestic violence, and one of those is a supervisory post. Any other work is carried out by charitable organisations who rely on non-linear funding and constantly juggle finances and staff.
I feel the situation is dire when a woman has to search for a helpline through Google. This kind of help should be in-your-face, up there on advertising boards, on the side of buses. So why isn’t it?
Because domestic violence is perceived as ‘not so clear cut’. For the emergency services, they often arrive on the site of a domestic violence incident to find two people arguing, one of them injured. For the refuge services, they are dealing with a displaced family, where the woman has been torn away from her home and her belongings and is in a state of shock. For the media, they hear only whispers of what has happened, he said, she said, what they are like.
The only people who know what really happened are the perpetrator and the victim. OK, so there is a disagreement. Two people not agreeing about a matter between them. We’re all responsible adults, aren’t we? Words. Each person in the relationship, whatever it is, is entitled to an opinion, so arguments aren’t so unusual. Words, used in a psychologically damaging way are also a form of abuse, but do not under any circumstances merit a violent response. Personally, if I become embroiled in a strong difference of opinion and feel that the other person is trying to oppress me with their views, rather than abuse or oppress them back I exit the scene. But take two people with who but have strong opposing views, in a small space and neither want to back down. Shouting, arguments, the language becomes strong. Then one person decides that the only way to get the other person to agree with them is by force of violence. How disgusting is that? And how has the other person ‘asked for it’? By disagreeing? Surely everyone has the right to their own opinion, without being forced by violence to change? That’s being punished for what you think and is misogynistic and oppressive.
I would strongly recommend any woman (or man) who feels a situation is hurtling towards violence to leave. Don’t engage any further in arguments, just get away from the person who is trying to hurt you. Again, the domestic violence helpline is 0808 2000 247 please ring now if you are suffering abuse.
It is a serious issues for men and women and part of a learning curve in life, but we all owe it to ourselves and our families not to lose control of ourselves, in trying to control others. At the risk of repeating myself, I say again, if someone hits you they don’t have your best interests at heart. They are not doing it out of love, they are abusing you. You may feel attached to them in other ways, but remember that this will affect you and your loved ones and that there is a better life than violence and abuse waiting out there.
Although I am now and academic and CEO of a charitable organisation and live in a loving, caring relationship with my partner, I have lived both lives and I know that I never believed there was an escape route for me. But with support, it is possible.
If you are Googling for help, please ring the helpline above. If you feel in danger, it’s never too early or late to be supported. Instead of spending all my time stressed and afraid of the future, worried about how the people around me will be affected and what they too are enduring, I spend my days quietly doing the things I love. Sounds a little boring, writing articles about climate change, writing novels, walking in the countryside, but believe me, it’s more exciting than going to hops ital with a black eye and broken teeth and lying to health professionals who know the truth through pure fear. Why do people who are being abused stay with their abusive partner for elongated lengths of time, carefully hiding the abuse? Because they are petrified with fear. The abuser is carrying out the violence to control the victim, often with threats or implied threats of death to them and their loved ones and often making the victim feel worthless, unable to be autonomous. They’re not ‘asking for it’ by arguing, they are desperate to get their point across to someone who responds with their fist. And they’re not ‘asking for it’ by staying, they are scared literally to death of leaving.
It is possible to escape to a happier life. If you are googling on domestic violence, please ring the helpline. Get Help. Get away.