A cover up…..

I’ve been really neglecting my poor blog lately. Desperately wanting to write but not able to find the time. Until last week when I saw a tweet by Britmums on behalf of Kate @ Kate On Thin Ice and knew I had to get involved and I made sure I found the time.

The topic?

Domestic Abuse.

This is for a campaign by Refuge. Every day Refuge supports 1,600 women and children and helps them to rebuild their lives. They work to raise awareness of domestic violence and encourage people to speak out against it.

Make up artist Lauren Luke is helping the campaign too. You can see her video below

This video isn’t actually real, but the situation is for many women. They live with that fear on a daily basis.

The figures are shocking. On average 2 women a week are killed by a violent partner or ex-partner.

It’s not solely women who suffer from domestic abuse or domestic violence, but stats show that women are far more likely to be on the receiving end of it.

At least 1 in 4 women will experience it in their lifetime. Domestic violence is a crime and it’s the crime with the highest repeat victimisation. Once someone has been subjected to domestic abuse / violence, the likelihood of them suffering another incident is very high compared to other crimes. The police receive on average one call a minute in the UK about domestic abuse.

The most upsetting thing is that far more people suffer from domestic abuse / violence than we think. I’m well aware that a huge amount of it goes completely unreported and there are many people out there that are completely unaware that what they’re experiencing in their relationship is domestic abuse. It often begins so subtly that people don’t even realise it’s happening to them.

I used to deal with cases of domestic abuse on a daily basis. I cannot even begin to tell you how many times I sat in my office with a client and gently suggested that they had been suffering domestic abuse in their relationship because they weren’t aware of it. ‘But he’s never hit me!’ was often the response. And in cases where there had been physical violence the likely response would be, ‘it only happens when they’ve been drinking’ or ‘it’s because I wind them up’.

Which means to me that education is a major factor here.

Domestic abuse is not the victim’s fault. No-one deserves to be punched, slapped, threatened, intimidated or beaten down physically or emotionally.

And just because someone has not suffered physical violence does not mean that they have not experienced domestic abuse. Domestic abuse covers a multitude of things including:-

Financial control – making all financial decisions, withholding money and only allowing the smallest amounts for food and basic essentials.
Emotional pressure – making threats to leave, commit suicide, take the children away, go to Court, report to various welfare agencies.
Isolation – preventing contact with family and friends, monitoring or blocking telephone calls, text messages, emails, etc.
Making threats of physical or sexual violence – behaving aggressively and making angry gestures, using physical intimidation, shouting, breaking objects, punching walls, making threats to harm you and / or others.
Harassment – following you, opening mail, intercepting phone calls and text messages.
Constant criticism – telling you you’re not good enough, you don’t deserve love, respect, nice things, continuous putdowns, embarrassing you in front of others, ignoring or interrupting you.

All behaviour which, especially if it happens for a prolonged period, affects self-confidence and self-esteem. When you are told something often enough then you do begin to believe it. You’re not good enough, you’re a terrible parent, you don’t deserve to be loved.

The other worrying fact about domestic abuse is how often children are involved, or witness it. And even when they don’t it still affects them. We often don’t give our children enough credit for how sensitive, intuitive and intelligent they are. If all is not well in the parental camp, they know.

If children experience it often enough then it becomes an acceptable way of life to them. They can become victims or perpetrators of domestic abuse, because it’s normal to them.

I’ll never forget one of the very last cases I dealt with.

My client suffered domestic abuse for years, physically and in many of the ways described above. She had finally built up enough courage to leave her husband, report the abuse to the police and apply for an emergency injunction.

She had older children who objected to all these decisions and in turn subjected her to the same abuse she had suffered from their father. They couldn’t believe what ‘she was doing to him’.

They had witnessed his behaviour so often they felt she deserved the abuse she received and she was in the wrong for refusing to accept it any longer.

She was unable to get accommodation or assistance from Women’s Aid because they were full. She was not a priority for them and neither was she a priority for housing. In both situations it was because she didn’t have children to accommodate. Her older children had persuaded the younger children to refuse to leave their family home and their dad. She ended up sleeping on the streets because she had been previously isolated from her family and friends. She struggled to get benefits because her husband had been claiming them all on her behalf.

Eventually, she withdrew her police complaint, refused to go to Court and as a result was in a position where I could do very little to help her. I had to pass her case to a colleague when I went on maternity leave. I don’t know the outcome, and it saddens me to say that I strongly suspect she returned to the family home and is in no different a situation to when she first came to see me. This happens far more often than any of us realise.

I saw another post last week that really struck a chord with me. It was about not forcing children to do things to please other people, such as kiss or hug people to avoid upsetting them. If we force children to do things like this against their will then it teaches them to put other’s feelings before their own. And it teaches them to disrepect their own feelings and bodies to avoid upsetting others, which is often how people find themselves drawn into relationships that feature domestic abuse.

Therefore, it’s essential that we not only get the message out there to people experiencing domestic abuse #dontcoveritup but we should also teach children to respect themselves and their bodies. It’s extremely important that we teach them physical violence and emotional abuse is not ok and has no place to be accepted in our society.

If you are suffering from domestic abuse, please speak to someone #dontcoveritup

If you suspect someone you know is suffering from domestic abuse, please speak to them and encourage them to speak out #dontcoveritup