More than just bruises

Every single day we see people as we go about our daily lives.  During the school run, taking the kids to the park or when taking the dog for a walk we will walk past a stranger, maybe make eye contact, a quick smile or even a hello.  For a split second we see someone new, we don’t know their name, who they are or what their story is but no doubt they will have one, as we all do.

As we briefly acknowledge them whilst we carry on with our day-to-day business, what do we see; hair colour/style, outfit and facial features, probably nothing more than that but do we ever take the time to read their story through their eyes, probably not.

Just because we don’t see a bruise or scar doesn’t mean they aren’t being abused in any other way or suffering at the hands of a perpetrator once they get home and are behind closed doors.  Perpetrators and victims don’t come with signs labelling who they are and domestic abuse goes deeper and further than just bruises.

Behind false smiles, sad eyes and a cowering head there is a lot more than just bruises.  Many victims of domestic abuse might not know they are a victim because their perpetrator doesn’t physically harm them however, they might be financially controlled but not actually seeing it as abuse.  A perpetrator will do all they can to take away the independence from the victim, prevent them from living and making everything they do in life depend on them.  Taking away their financial gain stops victims from having their own financial independence and can cut them off from the outside world, a place where perpetrators don’t want their victim to ever be.

Wiping out shared bank accounts, ringing up debt on shared credit cards, ruining their victim’s credit scores or attempting to bury them with excessive legal and divorce fees often eating up most of the victim’s assets is financial abuse yet the impact is something the victim won’t feel until it’s too late.

Just passing a person by in the street, you won’t know this is happening but it does.  1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men will become a victim of domestic abuse at some point during their life time without awareness, education and training this will never alter.

Isolation and silence breed domestic abuse yet so much faith has been lost preventing victims from speaking out against their perpetrator.  Through fear they won’t speak out and through judgment and stereotyping, fear of not being believed or heard will prevent them from making that call, making a statement or speaking out.  Often these barriers are not taking into consideration and victims are merely asked, why don’t you just leave without the recognition of WHY aren’t they actually leaving.

No victim asks to be abused, no victim deserves to be abused and being abused should never be tolerated.

Every victim is different and unique, and so too will be their wants and needs.  Yet all victims want and need to be safe, have someone to confide in and to be believed – easy said than done.

If leaving was a simple process it would have been done by so many ‘just leaving’ is complex, unsafe and can be fatal especially without the real wants and needs a victim craves for.  Domestic abuse is still misunderstood, awareness, education and training would reveal the factors as to what stops a victim from leaving.

To live in fear of the key in the door, for tea time or for morning come is an awful way to live and no one should have to live that way, yet with domestic abuse come fear, intimidation, manipulation.  The constant battle of walking on eggshells, praying you do everything right today and hoping today is a good day so you don’t have to suffer the abuse at your perpetrators hands.  But the sad reality is, many victims think this is acceptable and normal behaviour in a relationship because it’s not physical abuse.  Domestic abuse knows no boundaries, it is a crime that is so under reported because it is easily confused with love and care not the power and control that manipulates the cycle every single day.

As a victim of domestic abuse, your views, thoughts and feelings no longer matter, your appearance, self-confidence, esteem and worth disappear as you live in existence rather than your own life.  You are no longer in control of your life, you don’t have a live, your perpetrator controls everything about you, domestic abuse is more than just bruises.

When you no longer want to go to bed at night because you are frightened what might happen to you once you close your eyes and the awful feeling of never wanting to wake up again because you are petrified what today will actually bring.

The psychological stress and strain that domestic abuse brings, will live inside you a lot longer than the bruises you have on your body.  The words, looks and stares will be inside your soul forever.  How your perpetrator treats you will always make you question yourself, maybe it was me, perhaps I said the wrong thing, it was my fault.  Reverse psychology is something your perpetrator will use against you so you do blame yourself, that you apologise to them and that you tell everyone, yes it was me.  But it wasn’t.  A victim doesn’t ask to be abused, a perpetrator chooses to abuse.

A perpetrator abuses and gets away with the crime for so long because society focuses on the visible scars and not the what coercive control leaves behind; manipulation, isolation, control all have an impact on victims yet these signs aren’t always noticed.

Domestic abuse is much more than just bruises it has the consequences to kill.

Does God Control Us?

Tegan Rose my 9-year-old daughter asked me a question the other day, one I could not answer but one that has been in my mind ever since she asked.

Does God control you?

When we think of control we think of it in a negative way but sometimes when we think of God, we think of him in a positive way.

I remember when I was a victim of physical and psychological abuse I was always praying to God to help me, to help keep me safe and to not let me die.  I guess, in one respect over a 3 year period he did all of those things, probably at the time I didn’t think so but now looking back, he did.

Was I also controlled by God or was he just a figment of my imagination, if anything at all.  I was most definitely controlled by my deceased partner, he controlled every single aspect of my life from what I wore to whom I spoke to, from not going to work and not learning to drive, he took away my freedom, he took away my life.  But did God give me my life back?  He got me through difficult times and let me live to tell the tale but was it in a controlling way?

Did God control the circumstance I was in and not me, if he did control me, why did he decide being a victim of domestic abuse was the path I must take?  Many people say God has a plan for each of us but what if that plan doesn’t make sense to us, yet it does to him?  Everything happens for a reason but the question we will always have on our lips is, why?  Things that happen to us, we don’t always understand, yet if God has a plan for us he must?

Does God determine who I am and what my circumstances must be or did my perpetrator choose to abuse me from the very first night we met.  Both God and my ex perpetrator have taught me positive thing from a very negative experience and completely changed me as a person.

God is also a powerful person but not in the same way as a perpetrator – or is he?

This question has certainly made me think and opened my eyes to see things differently.  Does God control us?  Maybe there isn’t an answer, maybe it isn’t yes and it isn’t know but I know one things, it’s made me think!

In those three years as a victim, I prayed a lot, I guess at the time, God was the only one who listened, who could hear my wants and needs.  Maybe he was the only one who helped me become a survivor and stronger, was he the only one who believe in me and had faith in me.

I guess he was the one who saw me before domestic abuse and saw me when I was rock bottom and probably the only one who never judged me.  If he does control us, does that mean controlling can be a positive thing or not?

I thought this question was definitely food for thought!

Does the world really stop and think about them?

Father’s Day is a celebration honoring father and celebrating fatherhood, paternal bonds, and the influence of fathers in society. Many countries celebrate it on the third Sunday of June, though it is also celebrated widely on other days by many other countries.  The reality is, not all fathers are worth celebrating.

We can’t help who we fall in love with, children don’t ask to be born and victims don’t ask to be abused.  The perpetrator is always in control and choose to abuse yet when victims strive and thrive to become survivors, the tables turn and suddenly the male perpetrator becomes the victim, the doting father, the one who did nothing wrong, the one who gives all fathers a bad name in the paternity world.

It’s unfair to say all men are perpetrators, the same way it is to say all victims are female but it is important to learn that the cycle is the same for all victims and where children are involved, they will be used as a tool to the perpetrators advantage.

The sad reality of this complex cycle is often that the good dads aren’t given enough credit for who they are.  Some dads want to be with their children this Fathers Day but because of coercive control, an act used by perpetrators in order to gain and maintain power and control, they aren’t.

Father’s Day can be very difficult for a family still experiencing domestic abuse.

It can be difficult for the child or children in not understanding why they won’t see their Father this Father’s day, why they can’t write a card or buy a present.  It can be difficult for the absent Father too, not being able to receive a hug, a kiss or a I love you.  This difficulty is an added pressure on the Father and children but not the perpetrator for they are constantly in control of the whole situation and know exactly what they are doing and by what they are doing  they will always be in control.

A male victim of domestic abuse has exactly the same feelings as a female victim, in fear of breaking up the family, in fear of putting their child into danger or a pang of guilt for not doing the right thing.

A child will have divided loyalty between their mother and father but without realisation, the perpetrator will be coercively controlling them too, isolating them from the victim, putting the blame onto the victim, even denying it is happening but as the behaviour is covered as care, it’s not easily identified as abuse.

At this time of the year the shelves are filled with cards and gift ideas for children to buy but children who have witnessed domestic abuse in the home will feel that they are to blame for the situation, that somehow it’s happening because of them – they won’t see or feel themselves as a victim or a weapon being used in this deadly cycle.

Memories will come flooding back and not always happy ones.  Questions of, did I do the right thing, does my son remember me, does my daughter think of my and, why doesn’t daddy come to see me.

Perpetrators can’t see the damage that their behaviour is causing, they can’t see further than the end of their nose and don’t actually care about anyone’s thoughts, feelings, wants or needs apart from their own and they will, and do, anything they can to gain and maintain that power and control.

Traditionally Fathers day is about celebration, celebrating and honouring, fathers and father figures but what about those Fathers who are trying to be strong, who are victims, who are being abused, who are silent sufferers, who can’t do right for wrong, who are away from their child at this time of year because of coercive control, manipulation, power, control, domestic abuse.  Does the world really stop and think about them?

Childhood is just a small window of time but something that is snatched away by domestic abuse, not only do they have to try to understand what is happening to them but they also have to learn with the fact that whilst their friends are celebrating this time of the year with their dad, that they can’t.

No doubt, perpetrators will be psychologically abusing their child, humiliating, putting down and putting the blame onto the victim.  Children will have to wait until later on in their adult life perhaps and with awareness, education and training to understand and realise what the truth is.  The truth will always come out, even though the damage has been done, the truth will come out.  It’s just a shame that so many innocent people are hurt in between.

It is a precious gift, being a parent, yet there are so many cruel people in the world who don’t know this and would rather power and control take priority, however, at this time of year we must recognise the fact that not all Fathers will be celebrating this Father’s Day.

I am one of the lucky ones in the fact that I have a Father to celebrate.  My Father loved me very much and still does today.  I am 35 years old and see him most weekends, I still kiss him goodnight and tell him I love him, I have hugs on request, I’m not afraid to talk to him, ask him things or tell him he’s wrong.  He was the one who guided me through my life and he was the one I hurt when I fell in love with the wrong man.  My daddy was the one who told me, one day I would meet someone whom I would love so much more than him and I was the one who lied and said, no I won’t daddy.

My heart breaks into a thousand tiny pieces when I see Tegan Rose looking at a Father who is carrying their child upon his shoulders, pushing them a the swing in the park or holding their hand as they walk down the street because I feel I am the one who took that away from her, even though deep down I know I did the right thing as a mother in taking her out of the hostile situation we were once in.  But that doesn’t stop me from hurting inside, from feeling guilty, from feeling pain, from feeling hurt, from feeling sorry for my daughter.

Even though it’s almost 10 years since I left, it doesn’t make any decision, choice or question any easier for me.  The three-year relationship doesn’t just vanish from my memory and I live happily ever after, it just doesn’t work that way.

It’s not my ex perpetrator whom I feel sorry for at this time of the year but all the good fathers, the dedicated fathers, the fathers who love who are denied access because of power and control and it’s the innocent children that are hurt during the process, does the world really stop and think about them?