Why doesn't she leave? | Domestic Abuse - the lesson we all need but never got

By Unknown - June 20, 2018

*Disclaimer: I just want to say, all opinions in the blog post are my own. And yes before anyone says anything, I am aware that there are male victims of domestic abuse as well. However, I work solely with female victims and in my experience, the number of female victims is much higher. Please do not read this post if it is unsafe for you to do so.

Why doesn't she leave?

This, the most common question asked by many when discussing victims of domestic abuse. Also, the internal question asked by victims, aimed at themselves. I wish the question was a simple and easy one to answer. It's not, unfortunately.

I write this post because it's time someone stood up and spoke with the brave women that come forward every day to talk about their experiences of domestic abuse. I admit I don't have personal experience with it myself, but what I do have is a few years of professional experience, as I work full time supporting these brave and courageous women. 

Now, I could deliver a whole training session on how silly the above question is. It could literally take all day, but alas, we do not have that time so I shall try and keep it as concise as possible.

To put something as complex as domestic abuse, as simply as I can, imagine the worst break up you've had. One that left you feeling like your life had fallen to pieces, left you feeling broken, that you'd spent years building a life with someone that is now gone. Material things like a house, furniture, a car, personal belongings, your children's toys etc. Other things like friends you've made, a job you enjoy, your children's school and friends. The man you fell in love with, the partner you thought you would travel through life with. 

Imagine how difficult it would be to be told you have to leave that life. Now add in the beliefs that you're not good enough... "no one else is going to want you, what life would you have without me", "what about the children missing out on having their dad around?", "You can't leave, who will believe you?", "I'll kill myself if you leave"...

"I'll find you and kill you if you leave me"

There is evidence that states, a woman is more at risk of being murdered by her partner when she ends/leaves the relationship than at any other time.

Understandable to find it difficult leaving all that behind, or potentially place yourself at more risk by leaving right?

The term coercive control has been thrown around a lot recently in the media, with some of the first convictions made under this new law getting a lot of coverage. The general public is becoming a little more aware of this aspect of domestic abuse, however;

"Coercive control is not a new concept"

Coercive control is the backbone of the patterns of behavior displayed by perpetrators of abuse. If a perpetrator was abusive from the word go, if he showed any obvious signs of it do you think he would get past a first or second date? No way! He is the perfect partner in the beginning. He can't do enough for you, takes you on nice dates, buys you things, makes you feel special and you fall head over heels in love. Things are great, the best they've ever been in fact. So what if you don't go out with your friends as much anymore, nights in with him with a takeaway are perfection. This is when he starts to isolate you from everyone you know. He is the only person you need in this world, it's you and him together and neither of you needs anyone else. BAM before you know it, he is all you've got. This makes it easier for him to abuse you, as who the hell is going to find out? Who will believe you when you haven't spoken to them in months?

Here is where the nasty, vile, degrading abuse starts. I won't go into details about the stories I have heard, it's not fair on the people who those stories belong to and they're not mine to tell. Let's just say just when you think it can't get any worse, the next story comes in.

I have heard every excuse in the book, for why a perpetrator behaves the way that he does. The simple answer is because he wants to, and because he thinks he can. It is NOT an anger management issue. If it was he would be punching every person he sees on the street. He knows what he is doing is wrong. If he didn't he would not be so keen to keep in behind closed doors. 

"Equality will be achieved when there is an end to the epidemic of violence against women and girls"

The media portrays women as being equal to our male counterparts. In some aspects they're right. We can now vote, we can have our own careers, we can have whatever job we want for that matter (but to be successful we have to be ruthless like a man). My view is as long as there is violence against women and girls still happening, we are not equals.

Any women that are reading this, or men; ask yourselves a couple of these questions:

Do you feel unsafe walking home alone at night?
Do you feel unsafe getting into a taxi after a night out on your own?
Do you walk to your car/front door/office with a key in your palm for protection?

I'm going to hazard a guess that a lot of women would be answering yes to those questions, and the men would be saying no.

This, my friends, is what is more commonly known as 'Male Privilege'.

And this is what needs to change. You don't see men having to defend their jobs, their actions, what they say, who they say it to. When they do, they have this skill developed through the training course of 'male privilege', to turn it around and make it seem like it's the other persons' fault (usually a woman).

Listen, I'm not hating on men here. I have lots of wonderful, respectful men in my life who see me as an equal. Men I admire, who inspire me and who I would do anything for. However, I also see the worst, men every day, so my opinion isn't biased, it is based on facts I see with my own eyes.

As I was writing the first draft of this post last night, I was watching Love Island (my guilty pleasure). People were in uproar about Adam and his treatment of Rosie, and I was happy to see some referring to it as domestic abuse or at least the first signs of it. What I saw it as was Male Privilege.

I wrote a tweet which I think is apt for this post:

In my view, the way to start making change starts with the younger generation. Teaching healthy relationships to every young boy and girl who are of school age, as young as you can get them. Teach them what is right and wrong, what manipulative behavior looks like and hit them hard with what the effects are on the recipient of this type of behavior. 

What also needs to be done is holding the perpetrators accountable for their actions. There are laws in place to protect victims, to hold perpetrators responsible for their actions, but they don't get used or enforced anywhere near enough. This needs to change, so that many more victims can turn into survivors.

The thing that prompted me to write this post in the first place, is something I have seen being shared around Twitter with a statistic that states:

Domestic Abuse increases by 38% when England lose a football match.

It is a shocking statistic, and I was pleased to see the shock and disgust people were displaying at seeing it. This subject needs that kind of awareness, and it needs to shock people into action. Which is why I have addressed it on my blog.

If you have a friend or family member you believe to be in this situation, or could potentially be being lead down this path, there are some things you can do to help.

1. Don't give up on them - they may drop off the grid, you might not hear from them for months. They might stop making an effort or being there for you, but don't give up on them. If you're concerned, try and speak to them when you know he isn't going to be there.

2. Let them know you're not going anywhere - They will need you one day, trust me on this. When they make the brave decision to end the relationship, they will need all the support from the people around them. Even if they haven't seen you for a while.

 3. Believe them - this is the most important one. Believe them if/when they choose to tell you what has been going on for them. Some of it might be hard to here, it might even be unbelievable to you. But it is their journey and you should feel privileged they are choosing to share that with you. I know I do every day.

Remember, everyone deserves respect in a relationship. You are allowed to be who you want to be without repercussion. You have nothing to apologize for and it is not your fault. No one has the right to treat you in a way you don't want to be treated. 

If you or anyone you know needs some additional support, there are a number of helplines and places you can go to get it:

National domestic abuse helpline: 0808 2000 247
www.womensaid.org.uk - to find your nearest Womens Aid service
www.refuge.org.uk - if you are in need of emergency accommodation or further support

If you are in immediate danger dial 999. 

I would love to hear your comments, however, keep it respectful and anything I think is damaging I will remove.

Until next time...

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