Or: How to recognise if you are the victim of Domestic Abuse and what to do next.
We live in an age where advice on any issue is instantly available. Well intentioned advice from friends and family, helplines, search engines, impulsive (and sometimes retracted!) updates on social media…Any time we want an answer, the information is out there. However, sometimes the information we come across can be misleading, incorrect or downright harmful. So my initial advice (on finding advice) is to keep it simple.
The first challenge is to recognise the difference between difficulties in a relationship and abuse. Even the most harmonious of couples will hit stumbling blocks and disagree. Some of the conflicts that ensue can be downright nasty. These are generally resolved with time apart to think and coming together to talk things over. These are not abusive situations.
However, what happens if your partner refuses to allow you time to think or becomes aggressive when you express an opinion contrary to theirs? The simplest (and by turn most profound and heartfelt) advice I ever read was
“Love aint meant to feel bad”
Some disagreements escalate into bitter, strung out arguments lasting days. Both parties feel tired, drained and upset…which can lead to further conflicts or the same one swimming round and round in circles.
“Darling, they’re playing our row!”
If this sounds familiar, it’s time to think about the future. A loving partner should welcome the opportunity to discuss the situation and look towards a resolution. However, not every relationship is a healthy one. Abusive partners can sometimes show signs of things to come early on, in the form of trashing opinions, belittling looks/abilities, controlling who you spend time with and when. This is not an exhaustive list and I’d recommend the link below if you have doubts about your own situation.
I consulted this site when I began to have doubts about my own relationship. What it said made perfect sense and thought I’d taken on board. However, things improved briefly and the advice got pushed to one side. Five weeks later I ended up in the horrendous situation which prompted me to start this blog.
There is truth in the phrase “Go with your gut instinct”
If you feel a scenario is unsafe, then it’s likely that it is.
The Women’s Aid website identifies Domestic Violence as follows…
In Women’s Aid’s view domestic violence is physical, sexual, psychological or financial violence that takes place within an intimate or family type relationship and that forms a pattern of coercive and controlling behaviour. This can include forced marriage and so-called ‘honour crimes’. Domestic violence may include a range of abusive behaviours, not all of which are in themselves inherently ‘violent’.
Men’s Advice Line detail Domestic Violence as below:
Domestic violence includes a range of behaviours: physical, psychological, sexual or financial abuse. It happens within intimate relationships as well as between family members. It forms a pattern of bullying and controlling behaviours. It is rarely a one-off event and it tends to get worse over time. Abusers can be very manipulative in the way they use their power and control over you and may blame you and other factors for their abusive behaviours.
Since both sources seem to be offering similar advice, I think it’s fair to assume that neither male or female victims should put up with such treatment.
Not every abuser shows signs of what may follow…However, if the clues are there it is always a good idea to start to put escape plans in place. As I do not feel qualified to advise those in situations which differ from the one I left, please see below helpful links to the Refuge and Men’s Advice Line websites…
I’m truly sorry that I can’t be more help, but I’m only able to give advice based on my own experiences. My own situation was different. I did not live with my partner and we didn’t have children together. Not everybody has that kind of opportunity to leave and start again. With the best of intentions, I’d like to offer the following advice.
- Leave the situation at the first opportunity. Do not walk the streets if you can help it, you risk being followed. Call a friend or a taxi to collect you. Have a clear idea of where you are going when you get in the car.
- Do not text, call or antagonise your partner in any way following conflict. Stay away, switch your phone off and avoid the temptation to go online.
- Do not walk back in to a potentially dangerous situation. Keep away, where possible stay with a friend.
- In an emergency, call 999. If you decide to contact the police when you have left the situation, you will be redirected to 101. Keep any forms or paperwork they hand you safe, always take note of officers’ names and collar numbers.
- Reporting the matter to the police should be YOUR decision. Do not be pressurised to take this action, no matter how well-meaning the advice. This course of action needs to be taken seriously and treated as final.
- Take as many clear photographs as possible of any injuries. You will need these if you do decide to report the incident to the police. Be prepared for any photos taken by the police not to make it to court.
- If you are injured and need medical help, don’t be afraid to seek it. If your injuries are serious enough to require a visit to A&E, talk to the people who treat you about what happened. They are able to make initial contact with the police on your behalf.
- Think carefully as to whether you will allow contact from your abuser again. It is your right and prerogative to only allow people you feel safe with in your life.
- Resist the temptation to name and shame your partner via social media. Divulging too much information leaves you more vulnerable…You may leave yourself open to retribution from less than savoury “mutual” friends or risk alienating people you care about. You may feel this is not how it should be, but domestic violence is an emotive subject which can stir up unexpected feelings in people. Stick to talking to those you trust.
- Seek support from trusted friends and family, Talk about the situation, listen to their advice. However, recognise you’ll need to do what is best for YOU.
- If you do not choose to report the matter to the police, do not be tempted to take revenge yourself or by “Sending The Boys Around” You may well think you’ll feel better for taking revenge…But violence breeds violence. You could find yourself in never-ending conflict with your abuser. Or even that they turn the tables and report you to the police.
- Have the strength to break contact and stay away from your abuser if you choose not to report them to the police. Change your mobile number. Block them online. And remember that you can still report them if they begin to harass you.
- Allow yourself time to heal from the experience. Do not enter into another relationship until you are good and ready. Don’t beat yourself up over your thoughts. Go back to or take up new hobbies. Exercise. Seek out people who make you feel good and positive about yourself. Live well and look after yourself.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you are struggling with your mental health, see your doctor. If your doctor isn’t helpful, vote with your feet and change surgeries. Ask about counselling and don’t be afraid to explore your options. Make your recovery about YOU,
- Seek help from knowledgeable and trustworthy organisations
Recognise that even in the early days, you’ll have days where you feel fully healed and a force to be reckoned with. Then the following day may be a crashing low where you feel you’ll never smile again. You may spend days agonising over whether your ex-partner is doing O.K, spend sleepless nights wondering why it ended as it did and wonder whether you’ll ever be right in yourself again. Do not beat yourself up over this…But recognise that you’ve left an abusive situation and can begin again. Be kind to yourself…don’t shut out your thoughts but try not to obsess on them. Your perspective will shift over time and you’ll feel way better when they do.
To quote the last line of “The Crow”
“Can’t rain all the time”
If no-one needed this advice and I’d wasted an hour of my life putting it together, I’d be cock-a-hoop. However, if this post helps even one person to move forward from Domestic Abuse then it’s done it’s job. Thanks for taking the time to look it over.