Services are over-stretched, cuts to vital funding, refuges closing, a society that believes “it doesn’t happen to me” and children growing up accepting domestic abuse as normal.
It’s hard to believe we are living in the 20th century, changes are needed yet why does it feel we are moving backward rather than forward?
How can we give reassurance, faith and confidence to those experiencing domestic abuse when they are living in a minefield and everything else around them feels like it is crashing down?
Just leave, people shout but that in itself is impossible when safe houses are closing. Waiting lists are getting longer, funding disappearing, contact not being identified as control – how can survivors leave safely when it feels as though there are no safety nets put in place for them?
Statistics tell us, survivors can’t just leave, 2 women are killed each week by a partner or former partner, acid attacks have increased, porn revenge, stalking and harassment, just a few consequences that happen when leaving an abusive relationship.
“Why don’t you just move?” I was asked by a professional.
I had previously lived with my partner in his flat for 3 years – he was in complete control and could have thrown me out at any point. I vowed to myself that once I had my Tegan I would find us a place in my name. I had to beg and borrow to find a ridiculous amount of rent and a deposit to secure the property because I wasn’t eligible for a council property. Even though I had been sitting in the housing office in floods of tears, asking for a flat closer to family only to be literally be laughed at and told no.
My reply to why don’t you just move was, why should I?
Society pressures survivor to just leave, yet there is no strong support in place.
I feel that there is a clear lack of understanding of the complex cycle, especially when a survivor has found the strength and courage to leave. Survivors need to know they have support in place, not shambles.
We have abusers dragging survivors through the Family Court, using their own children as tools and weapons, whilst still maintaining that power and control. Solicitors, CAFCASS and Judges thinking all abusers are good mums and dads and how children should see both parents but not taking the time to read through files or even asking the child what they want, it’s more of a case of abusers getting what they want in order to continue to control and abuse.
Survivors are still being put at risk.
I was mortified and petrified when a letter from his solicitors landed on my mat. Since having my daughter he had verbally threatened to take her away from me and now I was reading a ltter instructing me that I must attend Court. He was actually going to take her away from me.
The whole Court process was frightening, I felt like I was on trial, like I was the one in the wrong, the one being judged. His solicitor had been told his version of events, all one sided and not the truth but I was the one who was told I would have to take part in a psychological test and if I didn’t, I would be fined. Of course, I had nothing to hide whatsoever and I did do the test but oddly enough, he didn’t.
I’m sorry to say but if a mother or father loved their child and genuinely wanted to see them, would they really treat their partner in such a controlling and abusive way?
Contact is not always best for the child but in my eyes it is easier for everyone else, less paperwork and it keeps the abuser in control. This is completely unfair on any child and professionals, in my opinion, are giving the wrong message about domestic abuse.
Waiting lists for support is endangering survivors further. Being told to call back or we will call you back is ludicrous, is it safe or is it dangerous? How do you know that they won’t be dead when you call back?
Admitting to yourself you are being abused by the person you love is hard enough so asking for support is really screaming out, help me, I can’t take any more. Yet closures and cuts to funding is making it impossible for survivors to actually survive – how is that fair? How is that taking domestic abuse seriously? How is that supporting survivors? How?
Awareness and support is paramount in a world where domestic abuse is the norm and without either we are leaving people in extreme danger and that thought scares me.
We need to accept and acknowledge that domestic abuse is happening but, as a whole, we need to act quickly in how we are going to make changes.
Far too many lives have been destroyed through words such as “we will learn from this”. We have heard too many words and too few actions that there is no other alternative than making changes now before it’s too late.