If only domestic abuse was as simple as society thinks. I mean after all, it is still asking why don’t you just leave and saying if my partner ever hit me I would just leave. These two things tell me that society still misunderstands domestic abuse.
First and foremost, domestic abuse is about power and control with the perpetrator, male or female, doing all they can to maintain that power and control.
The signs of domestic abuse aren’t always as obvious as you think because domestic abuse is about controlling someone’s mind and emotions not always hurting their body. Usually, physical abuse isn’t what comes first which makes being in an abusive relationship dangerous.
When I first met my ex partner he was so charming, he focused on me, said all the right things and made me feel special. We couldn’t go anywhere without someone stopping us, saying hello and having a quick chat. He had a close relationship with his mum and nan, they doted on him and we would visit them often, if we wasn’t visiting them, he was always on the phone to them. In fact he was close to most of his immediate family. Even though he didn’t have many friends visit the flat, he had a close relationship with his flatmate. He didn’t have a job but would often do odd jobs for his mum and nan.
During our three year relationship, the physical abuse was far and few between.
The first time he slapped me I was in shock. My face was stinging and the bruise came out quickly, but as I stood and looked at him I suddenly felt sorry for him. He was so full of remorse as his eyes filled with tears and he kept saying how sorry he was. I was stunned and I think my pride hurt more than my face. Even though that was the first time he hit me, it wasn’t the first time he abused me.
At the honeymoon period of our relationship when everything was new and exciting, when I was so loved up that’s when the abuse subtly started. He didn’t want me to go and see my parents but made it seem as though he wanted to spend time with me, when in reality he was taking me away from my support network. “Don’t go and see your mum tonight, if you love me you’ll stay in” Of course I loved him, of course I stayed in that night and before I knew it, that one night spiralled into many.
When we first me, I was a Legal Secretary a job I loved, he told me I had only managed to get the job because I had slept with my boss. One morning he locked me in the flat, throwing my phone out of the flat window; I was sacked. Now, he had taken away my financial independence.
I loved nothing more than going out at the weekend with my friends, I worked hard all week and loved to socialise. For me, it was all about getting ready and putting on my favourite outfit; it always made me feel good about myself. That night though when he opened the door, he looked me up and down and told me I looked like a fucking slag. That hurt me so much and why did he have to say it to me in front of my friend. I still went to the pub that night with my friend and tried to forget what he had said. It wasn’t very far to the pub so off I went.
I had just sat down at the table when the text messages started. I had to re read most of them in case I had misread them but the message was clear – I was a fucking slag and was only dressed up like that because I was looking for someone else. The night for me ended quickly because the text messages came thick and fast. I didn’t go out much after that. The only place I went alone was shopping but the bombardment of texts didn’t stop.
I didn’t see his behaviour as abuse, I simply accepted his behaviour as normal because there were no physical signs or scars.
1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men will experience domestic abuse at some point during their lifetime but won’t know that they are a victim because they aren’t physically hurt, this is why I feel my MTAB campaign is vital.
Domestic abuse as an incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening, degrading and violent behaviour, including sexual violence.
Domestic abuse can include but is not limited to:-
A perpetrator doesn’t have to physically hurt their victim for them to be a victim of domestic abuse. When talking about this horrific crime, we must talk about it in its entirety not just what we think it is.
Perpetrators mould and manipulate
A look, glance or stare can put fear into the victim
A clenched fist or a tapping foot can be intimidating
Accusations of cheating or having an affair
I strongly believe that with a campaign such as MTAB (More Than A Bruise) it will raise awareness and educate people not only what the warning sings are but to also look at their own relationships too. With a knowledge of what domestic abuse is, it might help people leave sooner rather than later.
Follow me on Twitter @sammieb1980 and lets get MTAB trending
Together, we can make a difference