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.