Many people aren’t aware that they are in abusive relationship because the signs are not always visible or physical. People believe that because they are not hit, they are not being abused. The reality is, domestic abuse is all about power and control; physical, psychological, sexual and financial.
My own personal experience was me not knowing what I had been through was domestic abuse, until I had left the relationship and was put onto an 8 week awareness course.
We live in a society where people tolerate things and accept them for what they are, often thinking what we are experiencing is normal behaviour and that it happens to everyone, or, on the other hand we think we are the only one going through this so we don’t speak out because no one else will understand.
The power of social media is not strong enough in itself for survivors to raise awareness and to highlight the early warning signs. We need to see the Government set up a mandatory and solid package throughout the nation where everyone is made aware of the early warning signs.
It needs to start from school, college through to working life because domestic abuse knows no boundaries, it happens to men, women and children and we need to help keep them safe.
Educating our young people about this issue shouldn’t be a taboo subject or one that is swept under the carpet but it should be introduced into all sex education classes. It is important for the next generation to be aware of it. It isn’t about scaring them into never forming a relationship but supporting them in making the right relationships. Sex education needs to be about the biological side as well as the physical side because at the end of the day, they go hand in hand.
We teach our children the difference between right and wrong from an early age and raising domestic abuse awareness is just the same. Far too many young people think it’s OK for their boyfriend or girlfriend to look through their phone, tell them what clothes to wear and to choose their friends for them. No, this is wrong, not right.
Are we not failing our children if we don’t make them aware of these things from the outset? We aren’t telling them what to do or what not to do but making them aware of the situation in order for them to make their own decision in life. Our young people can’t help who they fall in love with but we have a duty to care for and protect them.
Domestic abuse can still be deemed as a taboo subject and one that is swept under the carpet, what with refuges closing and funding being cut, making it easier for perpetrators to go on abusing.
We live in a frustrated society where people say, well if it was that bad you would just leave, with education the knowledge would rise to the surface knowing it isn’t easy to leave the toxic relationship. So many barriers are put in the way of the thriving survivor – many placed by the Government – by the perpetrator making it so difficult for them to do so. Someone trying to leave an abusive relationship is automatically at high risk and vulnerable because the perpetrator will do all they can to gain and maintain that power and control over them. Verbal threats to family and friends soon become reality. Isolated from life and what once was normal, financially abused and often left in debt and with no self confidence, self esteem or worth making it seem pointless in leaving. How can a person who lives every single day of their life in fear leave with no safe place to go, with no money for the bus journey and no one to turn too? The reality to them is, if I stay at least I am safe but to society, that doesn’t make sense, simply because they do not understand the complex cycle.
Awareness is as important as aftercare and support is.
When the relationship is left, the abuse doesn’t stop and for many, it really is just the beginning of a long and rocky journey ahead, which at this point is where aftercare and support is a vital lifeline, which could prevent someone going back into the arms of their abuser.
It was dark and bleak for me when I left; a new mum, in a new area and always looking over my should whilst raising my daughter as I dealt with my own fears and insecurities, when all I wanted was someone to listen to me, to understand me and be there for me but isolation had made that difficult for me.
In time I found the strength to go to various mother and toddler groups but many don’t even have that option which is why aftercare and ongoing support is paramount for all.
Speaking out and asking for support isn’t an easy task, especially when you have constantly been told over a period of time that no one will believe you because it’s all your fault. You’ve been subtly brainwashed into thinking and believing it is your fault so you don’t bother speaking out.
The first step is always the hardest to take but the most important because you can choose the direction you want to go to get back in control of your own life. It can be a long journey but one you can take at your own pace.
It’s important to learn to understand that domestic abuse happens because the perpetrator choose to abuse not because a person ask to be abused. It’s equally as important to learn to love yourself again and the most important relationship to have after leaving, is with yourself. You need to find yourself again. You can and you will do it but only you can do it; aftercare and support is just a guiding hand to lead you the way you want to go.