But I love him…

The way he is always there for me, the one I can rely on when my friends and family ignore me.  He loves me, cares for me and looks after me.  He’s right, they don’t love me how he does, why would I want to spend time with people who are jealous of us anyway.  I am glad he doesn’t want me to go out with them, he’s right, I don’t need to, I have him, I don’t need to even look at another guy.  He knows I don’t mind him going out with the lads, he needs his mates in his life.  It’s good for him to be out and about, I didn’t want to be the one telling him what to do.

People keep asking me why I am with him, because I love him.  I can’t live without him, I think about him first thing in the morning and last thing at night.  I knew he is the one for me, he’s under my skin and inside my soul.

He is just so caring and he absolutely hates me not being with him, I only have to pop to the shop and he is constantly ringing me to see where I am and what I am doing.

He is just so honest too.  He always tells me if I look fat or ugly when I put a new outfit on or something, at least he doesn’t want me going out looking horrible or anything.

He always looks out for me in the long run too, helps me spend my money on us rather than me.  He needs his own money for his beer and cigarettes though so it’s only fair I chip in with food and stuff.  I always buy his favourite things that make him happy.

We’ve been together a while now and I just don’t understand why people keep asking why are we still together.  It’s like they think he is too good for me.  I love him and I feel so honoured that a guy like him wants to be with someone like me.

He’s right when he says I’ll never meet anyone like him.  He is just so caring and protective of me, watching my every move.  So jealous too, hates any other guy paying me any attention, even his own brother, he is just so romantic.

Little did I know that as a victim his caring behavior was actually him controlling me and the sad reality is, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men who become a victim of domestic abuse confuse this control as “care”.

It is vital that awareness and education becomes mandatory because without it people are becoming victims without even knowing it.

Waiting for the first punch or slap is too late, a victim has been a victim of domestic abuse for longer than they think.  Many victims believe they aren’t being abused because they aren’t being physically hurt.

The frightening this about this is how the perpetrator is completely in control and how they can actually make the victim think their behaviour is care.

A perpetrator won’t lose it, become angry or argumentative, they are so chillingly calm, cool and collected – capable of absolutely everything, giving away no emotion whatsoever.

This is increasingly dangerous for the victim because the early warning signs are so difficult to spot without awareness.  Without awareness and education we are endangering lives further.

Respect and domestic abuse

What is it, do we just give it or do we have to earn it?

I remember my childhood and being taught to respect my elders which would usually mean addressing them by their surname and always, always, using my manners.  I would always have to call my Aunts and Uncles by their title and name, never just their name.

I was brought up to be respectful because that’s how my parents were brought up too.

But are we really as respectful now as we were then, I think not.

I fear we live in a society where our next generation feel they are just given respect and don’t have to earn it.  Our children should be taught the basics right at the beginning which means respecting each other.

Many children don’t have respect for their elders, teachers or each other.

Being respectful to each other is a critical part of maintaining important personal relationships.  Respecting yourself can help move forward with your confidence and allow others to respect you too.  It’s an important part of life to respect people’s efforts, abilities and opinions.

I remember always having to show my gratitude as a child and that still stays with me as an adult too.

It’s about speaking to others respectfully and polite too.  We can get our points across without being rude or disrespectful.

I think teaching children to be respectful will also help with intersocial skills as well as later on in life.

Manners cost nothing and the same goes with respect.  Respecting ourselves, each other and things around us make us feel happy inside and sets a good example.

Kindness, generosity and respect can change the world we live in for the better.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, treat people the way you want to be treated is an important lesson in life but one that sometimes can fall on deaf ears.

Like perpetrators, for example.

They just don’t seem to have respect for anyone other than themselves.  Perpetrators seem to live a life where they feel society owes them something, they give off the feeling they are superior to everyone around them, when in reality, they aren’t.

Having no respect for each other can make the world we live in, an ugly place to be.  It’s important to educate our next generation knowing how to respect each other because with respect comes common sense in knowing the difference between right and wrong, what is acceptable and what is not.

First it needs to be learned how to respect ourselves, which can sometimes be difficult but it’s important to not compare ourselves with others and not to be so hard on ourselves when we make mistakes, we are only human, we all make mistakes in life.

Knowing who we are is important because the more we know, the more we can respect ourself.  We need to love who we are and focus on who we want to be.  We need to work on our confidence building too and surround ourself with positivity and positive people.

Respect is something perpetrators seem to lack in their life for some reason.  They must not have any self work, esteem or confidence of their own because they just suck it all out of their victim.

When we form relationships the foundation has got to be built on trust but surely there has to be respect too?

A perpetrator is clever in how they may seem to start off as respecting their victim but in time, this changes.

When you respect someone, you trust them a perpetrator lacks in both of these.  They will keep a track of what you are doing all the time and criticize you for little things, accuse you  of being unfaithful. Prevent you from seeing friends or family, or going to work or school. They will get angry when drinking alcohol or using drugs. They will control all the money you spend. Humiliate you in front of others. Destroy your property or things that you care about. Threaten to hurt you or the children or pets, cause hurt; hitting, punching, slapping, kicking, or biting. Use or threaten to use a weapon against you. Force you to have sex against your will. Blame you for their violent outbursts.  None of this is about respect, it is all about power and control, the two things that all perpetrators thrive on.

However, a victim will easily confuse a perpetrators behaviour thinking it is care and not control.  This is extremely dangerous for all victims because a perpetrator will do all they can to gain and maintain that power and control over them.

I think respect, of lack of respect says a lot about perpetrators and who they are, but the complex cycle makes the victim psychologically think and feel it’s all their fault with the perpetrator turning things around and telling the victim how they should respect them and who they are.

By teaching young people early on about respect they might be able to acknowledge these characteristics before it’s too late and understand why things are happening.  A perpetrator might realise that they behave this way and be able to ask themselves why and change their behaviour before it’s too late.

Respecting others is a silent way to express our feeling for them. It’s an unspoken way of communication.  Again, this says so much about perpetrators!

A perpetrator doesn’t have any respect for his victim and a perpetrator will take away their victims respect too.

Simplicity and domestic abuse don’t go together

There are so many things that we take for granted in life and many of us are guilty of that pleasure.

Going to work, cooking your favourite meal and watching that new serious you have been waiting all week to watch.  The simplest of things right, yes of course, as long as you aren’t a victim of domestic abuse.

Victims of domestic abuse aren’t allowed to go to work, make eye contact with anyone of the opposite sex of have their own financial independence.  As for their favourite meal or having control over the TV remote, they are none existent too because it’s all about the perpetrator, power and control.

A five-minute walk to the local shop soon changes into a bombarding of calls and text messages, demands and interrogation of who have you been talking too.  Leaving the house to do anything is virtually impossible for any victim of domestic abuse.  It is followed by constant accusations, intimidation and manipulate every single step of the way.

The simplest of things that we do on a daily basis completely taken out of context by a perpetrator.  Appointments missed because the insecurity of the perpetrator makes them feel there are much more sinister things happening than what there is.  Yet, it is the victim who is constantly punished.  Many victims are completely controlled, every move vividly watched.  They don’t care about mandatory appointments such as with the job centre or training programme, their insecurity blinding the innocence of the victims moves.

They seem to live in a world where they feel everyone is against them and punish victims for it when the victim just hasn’t done anything wrong at all.

Education is power

Children are the most precious gift in life but sometimes as a society we fall through the gaps that fail them completely.  Time after time we hear those famous words, we shall learn by this, however, the reality is, we don’t and more and more children are put at risk.

We seem to live in a society that turns a blind eye when difficult issues arise, we would rather bury our head in the sand rather than trying to focus on the issue in hand.

Children soak up things as easily as a sponge from early age and this is an important time to imput them with data, make them aware and educate them on valuable issues that will help keep them safe.

Talking about such issues have to be done in such a way that the discussions are age relevant to each child and spoken in such a way that the child understands to their capacity.

People seem to recoil in horror when wanting to introduce such difficult issues into schools but such difficult issues cannot stay taboo forever because in the long run, it will help keep our children safe.

Talking about issues doesn’t mean children are going to do things or become a victim of these things but instead helps keep them safe and will give them choices of what their options are should they find themselves in such difficult situations.

The reality is, we cannot wrap our children up in cotton wool but instead help prepare them to be ready for the big wide world.

The stranger danger conversation my parents had with me when I was 9 years old is very different to that conversation I have had with my own daughter.  I think my stranger danger conversation took place with the school brought it to out attention that a silver car was driving around enticing children into the car with the bribery of sweets.  Having to sit and talk about such an issue with a 6-year-old child is utterly heartbreaking but in all honesty the conversation had to be had for her own safety.  To us as adults its common sense not to talk to strangers but as parents and responsible adults we have to teach them why not to talk to strangers.

I am all for domestic abuse awareness and sex education to be brought into schools because awareness and education will help keep our children safe.

It’s not about encouraging them to become victims or to have underage sex but about teaching all children what is right and wrong, what to do if something isn’t quiet right and to give them the confidence to speak out and who too.

Abusers, perpetrators and rapists come in all shapes and sizes with many being known to the victim.  Talking openly about such issues sends out a strong message to all children, if introduced at an early age.

Some children don’t have a strong enough relationship to talk about such issues at home so if such taboo subjects aren’t discussed elsewhere then we are leaving out children open to vulnerability and failing them as victims.

We often talk about stranger danger but domestic abuse, rape and sexual exploitation can often happen in the home.  It is equally as important to bring such issues into school to make our children aware that it is also wrong if a friend or family member are doing these things too.

We live in a victim blaming society and often blaming children for having underage sex when in reality we should be asking ourselves, do they actually know where to get free condoms from, do they know about the morning after pill.  We can’t expect children to know about such issues if those particular issues are still taboo.  Sex is the most natural thing in the world but are children aware of the psychological side to, would they know if they were a victim of sexual abuse.  Awareness would help them learn to recognise the early warning signs.

I wished my experience of sex education at school would have been different and had included domestic abuse awareness.  I would have been aware of the early warning signs, I would have known what support was available and I might not have been a victim.  I would have learned the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationship, learned how domestic abuse is not love but in fact a crime.

Without awareness we just accept things to be normal and this is dangerous for our children.

My Wake Up Call

My mom always told me when I became a mother I would change.  I guess I was still naive in thinking and believing that having a baby with a perpetrator would make everything better, fix it and make the abuse I had endured for the previous three years miraculously disappear.

I thought him becoming a Father would make him change his ways but he alarm bells should have been ringing out loud and clear for me on that one quiet clearly because he was already a Father.

I guess I believed he wanted it to work as much as I did.  That the abuse would end and we would become a complete family.

When days were good, they were really good but they were far and between.  I can actually count on one hand how many good days we had during our three-year relationship.

Yu could say that this was my first real relationship, real in the fact that I had actually left home to be and live with this guy.  Friends and family had been pushed to the sidelines and he was all I could focus on.  Until I became a Mother.

It wasn’t a planned pregnancy but I guess we loved the practice part of it.  I had come off the pill at his request and remember missing a period or two but was absolutely distraught I wasn’t pregnant.  I felt like such a failure that I couldn’t even give him a child like his exes had.

I absolutely loved being pregnant, hands always caressing my perfect little bump, reading stories and singing songs in the bath to my unborn child.

Even though I was pregnant, he was still my priority, even before my own health.  I didn’t look after myself as much as I should have and I still felt manipulated and intimidated enough not to step out of line.

I don’t know what happened to me as a victim of domestic abuse whilst I was pregnant but somehow I became stronger s though my motherly instincts had come early.

I had my daughter two weeks early and I had to stay in hospital for 2 weeks after as I had pre eclampsia.  My hands and feet swollen to an incredible huge size to the point where I couldn’t even fit into a pair of shoes.

I remember one night an increasing surge of pain ripped through my stomach and it felt as though there was a huge weight pressing down on me making it almost impossible to breathe and I had a huge nosebleed, my vision became blurry, I was alone and thought I was dying.

Tegan Rose Billingham was born via C/Section.  I can’t really remember much about the experience as I had to have an epidural.  My parents were constantly with me as I slept and slept.  I must have felt so safe inside that hospital.  That was probably because he wasn’t even allowed on the hospital premises, let alone on the ward with me, thanks to his behaviour on the night I had to go into hospital.

He had turned up, drunk and after visiting hours; he closed the curtain around us and couldn’t help but be verbally abusive toward me.  As I lay on the bed, crying after he had left the ward, a nurse came over t me and handed me a card telling me to contact the number for support.

I remember him telling me how I had changed, not long after my daughter was born.  I guess I had, I had someone to protect now.

I was completely torn at this point in the relationship because I wanted my daughter to have a Father but on the other hand I knew it wasn’t safe to bring her up in such a hostile environment.

Maybe it was completely wrong of me to get pregnant and have this baby in the first place but it would be equally as wrong to bring her up in a family where she would be a witness of domestic abuse.

I could taste blood swirling around inside my mouth and instantly that was my wake up call.  It was as though, suddenly all of my sense had been shaken back into place and all my common sense faculties were working again.  I knew what was happening was wrong and if he had missed me when he slapped me and hurt my daughter, I could never have lived with myself.

I remember this incident happening over the weekend and first thing Monday morning I told some lie about popping to the shop but instead I hopped on the bus to my local police station, I made as statement and before I knew it I was sitting in a solicitor’s office asking for a non molestation order and in court on the same afternoon.

A decision of my I still agree with.  I wanted to protect my daughter and as a Mother that was my duty.

Of course, that wasn’t the end of the abuse and I had so many barriers to climb over, it was just ridiculous and you would have thought I was the one committing the crime.

I was told to move area, told I was stupid by a professional for moving over the road and told all Judges like Father to be able to see their children.

I didn’t move area, I moved over the road and to this very day he has never found us and I said no to all contact.  I had been a victim for 3 long years and there was no way on earth that I was going to be controlled as a mom, by anyone.

Everyone’s wake up call comes at a different stage but they do come and you have to go with your gut instinct.

It was as though my motherly instincts brough out the survivor in me, made me see much more clearly again and made me stand up for what I believed in.

I learned about domestic abuse the hard way

I would eat, sleep and breathe my perpetrator.  constantly walking everyday on a tightrope, feeling fear surge through my whole body if I dared to put one foot out-of-place.  My mind was always ringing out and echoing with the words, don’t do anything wrong in the hope today wouldn’t be the day I did something wrong to set off the ticking time bomb that lived deep inside my perpetrator.

I quickly learned, after being sacked from job as a legal secretary, that when it was my payday it would be “my day”, a good day.  Well most of the time anyway.

I always knew I was safest when I was sleeping.  It was strange really because now, thinking back, I loved bed-time, it was my favourite time of the day.  It sounds absolutely crazy but lying next to him in bed made me feel safe, safe from him I guess, from hurting and abusing me.  I always thought if I had sex with him, it would keep him happy and that was all I ever wanted to do; make him happy, keep him happy and be the one who made him happy.

The sad thing was, I don’t think he knew how to be happy but looking back now, I am not sure if this was just part of his abusive perpetrator characteristic.  I remember him telling me “sob stories” about his childhood and past and how I would never understand what he had been through because no-one had ever suffered the way he had.

He knew I was head over heels in love with him and if he had told me that the sky was green and the grass blue, I would have believed him.

My vulnerability and need to be loved by him, allowed him to feed me with his power and control, together with his ability to manipulate me, made me putty in his hands.

Throughout the relationship, my behaviour clearly changed.  I would go to bed each night praying to the Lord to help me and wake up each morning and immediately start to clean the flat.  I had to be doing something to prove to him that I was real woman but I also had to keep busy just to try to stop myself from walking and cracking those eggshells.

I would go into the bathroom 4 or 5 times a day just o brush my teeth or have a bath to try to be on my own but it got to the point where he would be standing outside the bathroom door, looking at his watch, timing me and demanding to know who I had been texting.  Then in time, we would have a bath together.

Anything could crack that eggshell and set off that egg timer.  Something as simple as taking something out of the freezer, dropping onto the floor and it making “too much noise” resulted in me being picked up in the kitchen doorway and being thrown like a rag doll and ending up like a heap of rubbish in the living room.

I left him on numerous occasions but he always knew I would be back and he always left the kitchen in such a mess, telling me how he couldn’t cope without me and how much he needed me.  Of course, he only wanted and needed me to be his skivvy and to clean his mess up.

Sometimes he would show me off like a prized possession, telling people how he would marry me and then in the next breath his actions told a very different story like flirting with women right before my eyes and acting as if his behaviour was totally acceptable, until I looked at someone of the opposite sex and I knew it was wrong, very wrong.

I quickly learned how it was acceptable for him to invite his ex partner back to the flat but it was equally unacceptable for me to even look at anyone of the opposite sex, let alone speak to them.  I didn’t even need to look at another man, why did I, when I’d got a boyfriend like him.  I guess at first I found this quiet flattering but in reality it became smothering, frightening, controlling.

How he must have hated me, not loved, how can you treat the one you love so cruelly?

He just wanted to use his power to control and manipulate me.  He seemed to revel and rejoice in inflicting pain on others and I innocently mistook his control for care, his abuse for love.  I had never even heard of the term domestic abuse but I learned the hard way.  I had first hand experience of it.  I accepted it for three years simply because I thought it was normal behaviour and that it happened in all relationships.  I thought when people I had grown up with, family and friends started ignoring me it was because they were jealous of who I was with and that they didn’t want to see me happy.  I had no idea this actually gave him more power because I had no one else to turn to other than him.  My isolation gave him so much more freedom to control me.

Whenever I did find the courage to leave with just the clothes on my back, my clothes and belongings were sold, ripped up or thrown down the chute.

Domestic abuse stripped me of being me, crushed my heart and soul.  It took away my life and left me just existing.  The thing with domestic abuse is you don’t know it’s happening to you, until its too late.  You feel the web of lies closing in around you but you don’t see them as lies you feel it as love, just how the perpetrator wants you to.

A victims mind seems to spiral out of control with so many emotions, lack of understanding and a lot of what ifs.  It’s a confusing and lonely cycle of crime to suffer with no-one understanding how or what it feels like, how you are scared but in love with someone who abuses you but yu don’t see it as abuse because you think it’s love.  You want it to be love.  You constantly question yourself, blame yourself and do nothing but protect your perpetrator.  You even find yourself making excuses for them and blaming yourself.  You want to leave but you want to stay at the same time, too scared to leave and too scared to stay but your perpetrator is like a drug running through every vein in your body.  Only it’s not actually a drug, it’s fear; fear of doing the wrong thing, the right thing – anything.

You don’t have anyone to turn to because no one understands why you don’t just leave.  You feel torn and pulled from pillar to post with emotions and feelings; guilt, shame, fear, embarrassment, denial but you don’t want to leve your perpetrator because you love them.  Well you think you do.  They say there is thin line between love and hate, so to for love and fear.

The butterflies that lived in the pit of my stomach each time I saw him quickly turned to fear living in my soul.  The fear of the unknown, the what next, the what now.  The fear of meeting Mr Jekyll or Mr Hyde, the fear of walking into the explosion field of the unknown, the living in fear.

I quickly learned how domestic abuse took away your freedom and how there wasn’t room for you, your life and a relationship with a perpetrator because at the end of the day the relationship was just about the perpetrator, it didn’t matter what your needs, wants or feeling were as long as life, no the world, revolved around the perpetrator.

I soon began living on autopilot, my mind always on him; was the flat clean enough, what to cook for tea and was there enough cans in the fridge.

My appearance, along with my life, soon deteriorated, it felt as though I didn’t have enough strength to live two lives, mine and his so it was just easier to put his before mine.  It was just easier for me.

Everyone in my life, he put down, made fun of and said hurtful things about them yet said such things in a way that made him sound as though he was absolutely right.  His brainwashing behaviour blinded me with the truth and isolated me even further into his arms.  His arms I was scared of but how I ached to have them wrapped around me all the time.  I felt as though he was my perpetrator but also my protector too, he wouldn’t let anyone hurt me, only he had that privilege.

My only escapism as a victim was alcohol, it just made the physical abuse easy to handle, my 4ft9 inch frame couldn’t feel his size 9s kicking my ribs in time and time again as I raised my hands over my head to at least protect my face.  Then again he wouldn’t cause so much damage to such a visible part of my body.

I remember on one occasion he kicked me so badly I could hardly walk the next day and couldn’t stop vomiting.

Drinking blocked things out for a while and made the physical pain bearable.  Of course, everything was my fault and I was the selfish one in the relationship because a perpetrator never, ever takes responsibility for their own actions and live a life of constantly blaming everyone but themselves.  With the adrenaline of love and fear constantly being a part of you, you believe everything that is happening to you is your fault.

They put you high up on a pedestal but they can also bring you down by making you feel lower than low.  It’s as though they have an evil spell over you and every inch of you belongs to them and they can do whatever they want with you because they are always in control.

Domestic abuse doesn’t just leave you either, it becomes a part of you.  It gives you a different outlook on life, it changes you as a person and also how you treat other people too.

You lose your trusting instinct as a survivor of domestic abuse, you find it difficult who to trust when new people walk into your life.  You suddenly believe everyone is a perpetrator when in reality they aren’t but it takes time to build up your confidence again.

You have to learn to buildup your confidence and strength from inside to let the world see you sparkle from the outside.

I am thankful that I suffered domestic abuse at the hands of my perpetrator because he has helped mould me into the strong and independent survivor I have become today.

Awareness is to keep victims safe, punishment is to prevent perpetrators abusing again

Awareness and education is the most powerful tool any victim of domestic abuse can ever hold because without it they don’t even know they are a victim.

Domestic abuse is a serious crime that affects 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men during their lifetime; it starts with isolation and can result in death. The abuse is sometime so subtle that the victim isn’t even aware that their partner is abusing them.

A perpetrator, irrelevant of gender, will always be in control of any situation, this is what they thrive on, power and control.  They make their controlling behaviour look like they are a caring partner.

Many young people, girls and boys, are forming abusive relationships with understanding the difference between care and control, without awareness they are entering dangerous situations and endangering their lives, this is why it is important to include domestic abuse awareness into sex education in all schools.  As adults, professionals and agencies it is our duty to keep children safe, not making them aware of the early warning signs, isn’t keeping them safe.

It is important to educate young people to creat healthy relationships from the start, not enter relationships they believe to be healthy and further down the line learn the hard way that they are in an abusive relationship.

Awareness and education will teach our young people the difference between what is acceptable and normal in a relationship and what should never be tolerated

Awareness and education is critical to keep each other safe.

The effects of domestic violence can be long-lasting and this is why awareness and education is extremely important because although the physical scars can fade quiet quickly, the psychological scars deep inside don’t ever fade, they are always part of the victim, with many scars being barriers and preventing them from moving forward in their life, no matter how hard they try to put the abuse behind them.

Awareness and education is like a huge safety bubble wrapped around the victim, with the victim tucked neatly inside it and no matter how hard the perpetrator tries to abuse them, awareness and education will be the victim’s power and control over the perpetrator.

Many people associate domestic abuse with physical abuse and think it ends there, it doesn’t.  Some victims are never physically harmed by their perpetrator and that’s why they feel they aren’t a victim of domestic abuse because of this, yet they don’t see the early warning signs of isolation, manipulation, control, intimidation, possessiveness or jealousy instead they easily confuse this behaviour with care and this is why perpetrators abuse for so long.  A perpetrators clever characteristics fools not only the victim but society itself, to the outside world they are the charming partner but behind closed doors they are the controlling perpetrator.  But if we look close enough and learn to read between the lines coercive control is actually happening in front of our very eye but a lack of awareness and education on this complex cycle makes us oblivious to it.

The one sign that all victims have in common, telling the world that they are indeed a victim of domestic abuse, is in fact their eyes.  The dark, deep, lost and emptiness of them is a clear giveaway.  They are sad, lifeless, colourless, no sparkle or shine to them.

The smile they have on their face is a smile screaming out and shouting, help me, please, I am a victim of domestic abuse, the one I love hurts me all the time.  That smile is their so that the world can see that their partner is caring not controlling, that smile is for the perpetrators benefit not because the victim is happy.  A victim doesn’t know how to be happy, they can’t be happy, not truly happy.  If they are happy, it’s because they are cheating, having an affair or flirting with other people of the opposite sex.

Perpetrators are clever people, they can fool anyone, they know how to play the system and they know how to get away with it.

They never “lose it” with anyone, they are always calm and in control, always one step ahead of the game.  In reality, it’s not only the victim they control, but society itself.

A light touching sentence doesn’t help anyone at all, where domestic abuse is concerned.  It doesn’t give the victim enough time to adjust to society as a survivor and nor does it actually punish the perpetrator at all.  A punishment needs to be put into place to actually prevent a person from ever wanting to commit that crime again but with domestic abuse, this is difficult as the satisfaction of the crime, if you like, for the perpetrator is doing anything that they possibly can in order to gain and maintain power and control over the victim.

Domestic abuse is the one crime that the perpetrator can still commit even when in prison.  They can still intimidate, manipulate and put the fear of God into the victim by writing them a letter.  To everyone else around them it will seem like a loving letter written by a caring partner but to that victim it is nothing more than coercive control and abuse.

A perpetrator can still harass and stalk a victim from the inside by writing “caring letters about their partner” to friends and family on the outside and still know the movements of the victim.

So without awareness and education, how can victims be kept safe?

A perpetrator will often have previous convictions of domestic abuse; it isn’t about losing your temper, having an argument or it being a one-off incident, it is a serious of patters in which the frequency and severity will increase.

What punishment can ever stop perpetrators from abusing again?

Coercive control can make it quiet difficult for victims to prove that they are actually being abused because without awareness and education, to the outside world it seem like care and not control.  Coercive control and domestic abuse leaves devastation behind, it’s intimidating and frightening to victims.  No knowing which way to turn, where to go and constantly having to look over your shoulder.

With mandatory awareness and education, it would absolutely benefit in the long-term not only helping keep victims from actually becoming victims in the first place but also keep down the number of convictions and prisoners down too, hence saving money for the Government and saving lives for everyone else!

I strongly believe awareness and education is the biggest step forward to help keep victims safe from coercive control and domestic abuse.

More Action Against Domestic Abuse

Despite improvements made over the decades in tacking domestic abuse, so much more must be done.  As progress is being made if domestic abuse is not unveiled, it will always remain.

We need to focus in on some core issues and find clarity.  Perpetrators must be targeted, acknowledgment and awareness for all victims to give confidence and faith to speak out soon rather than later.  There are still victims who remain unknown and unsupported.

The scale of Government cuts are making things much worse, we need stronger action by all agencies and professional which are needed to improve safety.

A victim won’t call the Police immediately but thereafter could be a repeat caller but without regular house calls or checks, a victims safety cannot be guaranteed.

A vital core issue, I believe, is awareness.  We are seeing and hearing how many young people are simply accepting domestic abuse as normal behaviour, they don’t see it as a crime but something that should simply be accepted in order to be loved.  Without awareness we are endangering and putting victims at risk, they are entering abusive relationships with the understand that domestic abuse is just physical abuse.  They don’t see the coercive control or the power.

Our next generation needs to be brought up in an environment where they understand abuse is not love.  Domestic abuse should not be glamourised but seen for what it really is; it is a crime.  Victims often wait for a fist to be raised in order to think they are being abused, the reality is, domestic abuse starts when the victim is first isolated which is often confused with love.  Victims will see it as the perpetrator wanting to spend quality time with them, when it is to prevent the victim from seeing friends and family.  Isolation allows the perpetrator to control, manipulate and abuse the victim away from prying eyes, stops interference from loved ones.

With awareness it is making clear that domestic abuse is not normal behaviour, making them aware of the early warning signs and helping give hem a voice to speak out.  Awareness to a victim is like what power is to a perpetrator, it can put them in control.

We need to focus on things in hand, making the Judicial System stronger is important.  Victims just aren’t being heard or listened too.  As it stands, there is simply no Justice for victims and no punishment for perpetrators.

These are just two reasons why domestic abuse is overlooked and under-reported, lack of awareness and no Justice; two huge barriers for victims.

How can victims report on something they don’t understand or know when they are being abused and why would they report something if they won’t get Justice?

Far more action is needed, not more talk.  Victims need more faith and confidence in speaking out and false promises just don’t cut it.

Too many victims are blamed for domestic abuse simply because society doesn’t understand the complex cycle and it is far easier to brush it under the carpet rather than acknowledge, learn and understand it.

We have a Government that feels the best way to deal with domestic abuse is to cut funding, take away Legal Aid and shut down agencies which are all safeguards to help victims but by taking these away it just gives perpetrators even more power and control.

So, no awareness, no Justice and taking away victims lifelines are, in this Governments view, is the best way forward to prevent domestic abuse.

It is absolutely ludicrous.

Victims need to be the focus of this complex cycle because they are the ones at the highest risk of this crime.  It simply doesn’t end when the victim finds the courage to leave, they become more vulnerable with perpetrators not knowing how to handle rejection.

We need to be absolutely committed to sex and relationship in all schools so our young people are not only taught that there is no place for violence of any kind in relationships, as stated by Yvette Cooper Shadow Home Secretary, but also because it teaches the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships and also what is right and wrong.  How relationships are not always about the biological side but it also includes the psychological side too because they go hand in hand.

When falling in love, emotions are usually formed before the biological relationship begins, yet it can often be the emotional aspect that has the devastating impact.  It is important that our young people are made aware of what is normal and what isn’t, including their own feelings.

All calls to the Police should be taken seriously and followed up with calls and progress reports to ensure the safety of all victims.

Personal judgmental attitudes should be left at the door and a professional hat worn at all times.  Domestic abuse is a serious crime and should be tolerated as so all the time.

1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men will become a victim of domestic abuse at some point during their life time and to me, that is one too many.  As a whole, we should be doing all we can to prevent anyone from ever becoming a victim.

Domestic abuse takes away your life, it leaves you in existence and not living.  You feel as though you are constantly walking on egg shells, too frightened to breathe, let alone speak.  It can leave devastating imprints on your life and be extremely difficult to put behind you, no matter how hard you try.  There will always be a significant day, song or trigger warning that will leave an impression.  How a victim deals with this is more important than the cause, this is why support and aftercare is imperative because without support, a victim can still be vulnerable and easily go back to the perpetrator and never have the strength to leave.

Perpetrators must learn and accept what they have done is wrong and their punishment must fit the crime.  However, the lenient punishment completely sends out the wrong message, it is simply telling perpetrators that it is acceptable to abuse and tells victims that domestic abuse isn’t the serious crime that it really is.

All victims need to be protected from the very first call they make because that is when they have had enough of being a victim.  We cannot afford to be unresponsive, sit back and do absolutely nothing.

This whole system needs improvement starting with the basic and right at the beginning, starting with awareness.