Are YOU a Domestic Violence Victim?
Are you not sure about your relationship? Do you suspect you may be a domestic violence victim? Jill Curtis sheds some light on the subject:
Violence in the home is a crime we are all becoming more aware of each year. In the UK a quarter of all reported violent crimes are domestic. In the US the estimate of the number ranges from 960,000 incidents of violence against a current or former partner to four million each year. But domestic violence is also a world-wide problem.
What is violence - or abuse? It is about power, and this can be about controlling a partner by either physical or emotional abuse. It is rarely a one-off event. There are also many different forms of abuse, and physical attack is only one of them. Perhaps most of us think of a black eye or broken arm, but sex can be used as a way of dominating a partner. So can ridicule. So can control of family finance. So, too, can shouting and screaming.
Does your partner accuse you of all manner of crimes? These may even be everyday events, such as looking out of the car window to look at other men or talking for too long to friends and family on the telephone! Jealousy is a formidable spur for many attacks.
Do you feel under threat of violence? Have you been on the receiving end of a violent attack? Do you have to account for time spent away from home? Does emotional or verbal abuse play a part in your relationship?
Psychological abuse can at times be even more damaging than physical abuse. It can be something which whittles away at your self-esteem until you may even begin to believe that you are stupid, useless or that you deserve it. Attempts at retaliating may bring further violence: tears of frustration and helplessness are ridiculed and mocked. If this is happening to you it may make it even more difficult to break away and do something about your situation. Loss of self-esteem, and being made to believe you are worthless make it difficult to think about getting help. Does this sound familiar? You may also be on the receiving end of blackmail, for that is what it is, if you partner threatens to kill himself - or herself - if you leave. Or to harm the children.
Sometimes there is a warning that violence is imminent, and this may be triggered by alcohol or drug abuse. Other times an attack can come out of the blue.
Violence against women is only part of the problem. It is sometimes the woman who is violent towards her man. This is known as the hidden side of domestic violence. For a man to be on the receiving end of abuse is often seen as a comic situation, and sadly this adds to the reluctance men have to come forward and speak about it. But it happens all the same. The humiliation which accompanies this abuse makes it just as hard for men to break free and seek help. Erin Pizzey who founded the first refuge for battered women and children in London, England, now speaks of her concerns for men as well.
On the Internet there are several different support groups for women on the receiving end of violence. And in the US, Australia and New Zealand I could find help for men, but it was virtually impossible to find help for men in the UK. I wonder why this should be so? (Note from the webmaster: The Freedom Programme© now offers help for men in the UK, both perpetrators of domestic violence and those suffering from it. For more information see Help for Abusers.)
One survey in the US discovered that where women have been accused of violence towards men it was not as one might suppose from self-defence, but as a reaction to men not paying attention or listening to them. I am not the judge, but these must have been very desperate women.
The Department of Justice reports that every 37.8 seconds somewhere a man is battered in the US. Every 20.9 seconds a woman is battered. Frightening figures. The Home Office in the UK reported in their survey into domestic violence that women are more likely to be badly injured and to suffer repeated attacks than men. But domestic violence is a two-way street not be tolerated whichever way it goes. No one should live their day-to-day life in fear of another.
The question often asked is why do people stay in an abusive relationship? The most common reason is because of financial restraints or fear of losing the children. It is easy from the outside to say get out but often there is hope that things will get better or shame at saying to an outsider I am being beaten. There is sometimes a mistaken belief that love will conquer all. This usually covers up a reluctance to bring things to a head and face all the changes that a challenge might bring about.
If there are children in a relationship this brings with it added worries. All research shows that if children witness their parents marital discord and fighting, this will affect them deeply and their emotional well-being will be harmed. They will be scared by what they see and hear. Dont trick yourself into believing that they do not notice, or will not be affected by it.
The sites I found most helpful on the Internet were where addresses or telephone numbers of refuges were listed and where it was indicated that although in the main these were for women and children, they were also sympathetic towards men who needed help. There is help out there so dont be afraid of looking for it. There are people who will listen, and help you to decide upon the best course. They will also provide some guidelines to assist you with your own safety, and that of your children. Be on guard, too, even if you have left your abusive partner, since you need to keep alert.
If any or all of this rings a bell with you, or you know of someone who is being abused, dont hesitate, get help and protection now. Some men and women have delayed, and tragically they are no longer alive.
© Jill Curtis 2001
To visit Jill Curtis' site Familyonwards, please click here!
In This Section:
Domestic Violence Articles
Help for Abusers
Women Who Love Too Much by Robin Norwood
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