If domestic abuse was as straight forward as a slap we wouldn’t be seeing 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men experiencing it during their lifetime. 2 women each week wouldn’t be killed by a partner or a former partner and thousands of children would not be witnessing it at home or going on to becoming a perpetrator or victim in their own relationships.
In fact, if domestic abuse was “just about a slap” it would be a lot less painful than what the complex cycle actually is.
A clear lack of education shows that many people don’t even know they are in an abusive relationship because they ARE NOT physically hurt, they don’t believe or think that coercive control is abuse they see it as care and love because it’s done in such a subtle way.
Of course, not all relationships are a bed of roses, couples do have their ups and downs, no one is disputing that fact at all but people who say, if my partner ever hit me, I would just leave are wrong.
When you have an argument, disagreement or shout at each other, you don’t just end the relationship there and then, do you? Your pride is hurt, your feelings are hurt, your heart hurts because the person you love has said something to hurt you. You want to kiss and make up, say sorry, start again, put it behind you, pretend it never happened. You don’t just leave.
Many people in abusive relationships are psychologically abused numerous times before they are hit, if they are hit at all. Domestic abuse is about power and control whether that’s physically, psychologically, sexually or financially – it is not under any circumstances all about physical abuse, far from it.
You recoil in horror, you are hurt and shocked when the blow of the physical abuse happens, you think that is the first time you have been abused but you don’t think of the times, you were told what to wear, when you were told you couldn’t go to the family party, when you were told not to see your best friend tonight or any other night, when you were humiliated in public, when you were told you were fat, ugly and useless. You don’t think about the times you text messages were read, your password change or the bombardment of calls as you went to the corner shop. You don’t take into consideration the times you were accused of having affairs, when you made eye contact with someone of the opposite sex or when you were made to beg for your own money to buy sanitary products.
Being hit by someone you love, comes as a shock, just the instant reaction your perpetrator wants because you are so shocked by their actions, it gives them time to get into their own role play, into the character of the caring partner who is so very sorry by what they have just done and they profoundly promise never to do it ever again and because you are so in love with them you believe every single word they say and as they hold you tight, soothing you as you silently weep into their shoulder they secretly smile, knowing you have just given them the green light to carry on abusing you.
After that point, they might never raise a hand to you ever again but that does not mean the abuse has stopped, far from it. It has increased but so subtly that you still don’t see it as abuse and if you do dare to question it, it is quickly swaddled with the victim blaming answer; it’s all your fault.
It never even enters your mind, to pack up, throw the relationship down the drain and just walk out, you don’t even think that at all. Your partner is too busy covering their actions with the words you want to hear, they even cuddle and hug you in the process for added effects, how can you possible consider leaving now when they are clearly so very remorseful for what they have just done that it will never happen again anyway and after all, maybe it was your fault, for pressing those buttons.
You are still in complete shock because they have never done that to you before and the coercive control that you have more than likely been experiencing from day one is so subtle and seen as love that you don’t automatically connect the two together because after all, if you’re not being hit, then you aren’t being abused.
And if you did leave, what do you really think is going to happen, that your partner is going to disappear into the distance and never contact you ever again? Come on, live in the real world. They will cling onto you like there is no tomorrow, they will call you, text you and be at your front door, telling you how sorry they are and declaring their undying love for you, doing whatever they can in their power to get you to go back to the arms of your abuser. They will succeed.
Without realisation, you are in a much more vulnerable position when you leave your perpetrator than if you stay with them. You learn to work out there moves when you are with them, tell tale signs of a glare or a tapping foot can often be an indicator that something might erupt at any given moment but without them in your sight you have no other option but to keep looking over your shoulder wondering what’s going to happen next and it’s the not knowing that is so very dangerous.
You suddenly realise what your partner is actually capable of and those verbal threats do come to the forefront of your mind and you being to think it’s no longer a matter of will they but when will they; when will those threats become a reality.
If it were so easy to leave, do you really think people would stay in such a hostile environment for so long that they don’t know that any time soon they could be killed at the hands of their partner. If leaving were easy people would leave a lot sooner, they wouldn’t wait until they were left for dead before doing so.