BY: Janine Mitchell
Change consultant / Support and advice
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Even though domestic abuse and the awareness of it is much more widely talked about, there is still very much a taboo around this subject. Although more initiatives are being targeted towards victims of domestic abuse, we are still a fair way off.
Very often the surface isn’t even scratched. One area that should be improved is empowering those who are currently in such a situation, or who are trying to remove themselves from an abusive relationship.
The statistics of domestic abuse in the UK remain alarmingly high. It affects one in four women and one in six men. On average in an abusive relationship, over 35 assaults take place before the police are called. Even when abuse is reported to the police, often an offence goes unaccounted for and the perpetrator isn’t prosecuted.
This can be for a number of reasons, but the common ones are the victim retracting their statement or that there is not enough evidence for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to prosecute within a high proportion of cases.
Sadly, there also remains a lack of awareness of the effects of domestic abuse and many within the system are poorly educated within the area. There continues to be much victim blame and there is also much minimisation. This goes right the way across the system.
A lack of education is one area that doesn’t help. Remarkably only last year, Justice Gilbert sitting in Manchester Crown Court commented that a woman had left herself open to a sexual assault by being “foolish” and drinking too much. Minimising perpetrator accountability in this way and the use of victim-blaming terms highlights the need to educate not just the young, but criminal justice staff and wider society about the importance of domestic abuse and the language used to describe it (The Guardian, December 2016).
Abuse can come in a variety of forms. Physical, emotional, psychological, financial, sexual. There is very much an underlying level of power, control and coercion. This can actually be linked to certain beliefs of the perpetrator which can be traced to feelings of insecurity and inadequacy. The level of control and manipulation will be exerted.
Any perception on this being lost can result in more manipulation or lead to violence or confrontation. The perpetrator does not want to lose control and will do anything in their grasp to regain this. This is why the victim is usually at a critical high risk of abuse if they attempt to leave the relationship.
What can I do if this is me or affecting someone I know?
People can change. We all can, in an instant. But equally it is our greatest fear. It will be much easier for a perpetrator to say they want to change, rather than actually doing so. Although we might want more than anything in the world for someone else to change, we can’t change others. We can only control our own responses and our own decisions.
What we can control is the choices we make. What we can do is look at our own underlying beliefs and see what we can change in order to allow ourselves to grow and develop. It is therefore important to look at our own stuff. I am not detracting blame from anyone here. But we can only work on us.
I will give you an example. I often tell clients, what we hold in mind, we then go on to attract, at a subconscious level.
I have always considered myself to be very independent. My parents had a very traditional relationship. This was not the type of relationship I envisaged myself in. I would often say that I didn’t want to be in a relationship where I was being controlled by someone else. So notice the word in that sentence ‘being controlled’. The subconscious forgets the do’s or don’t but holds in mind what we are saying, even if we don’t actually want it on a conscious level. Guess what I ended up attracting?…an abusive and controlling relationship.
What is keeping me or someone I know stuck?
Look at what is preventing you from moving on. Is it lack of confidence? Are you scared of being on your own? Are there children involved? Its there blame being directed and you are thinking this is all your fault (it isn’t by the way, but it took me some time to learn that one!) These are things that you can change, although it might not feel like it right now. What is underlying these thoughts and feelings?
What can I do?
Here are a few ideas of what you can do and how you can enable yourself to move forward.
- Remember, this is not your fault!! It may feel like it when all hell is breaking lose and you are being told everything that is happening is a direct result of you. It isn’t.
- Make sure you talk to somebody. Whether it is a close friend, a work colleague, a family member. Whoever it feels right to confide in. Don’t feel guilty or shameful for speaking out to someone and certainly don’t spend your time worrying what others think. Those who care about you will be supportive no matter what.
- Don’t be alone. You can feel very isolated in such a relationship, but there is a way out. Speak to who you can and be open with others whenever you can.
- Get some advise. Check out local services. There is a great deal of advise and support out there. Even if it’s just a friendly chat over a cuppa with a professional to know there are things that you can do to find a way out.
- Have an exit plan and strategy and set yourself a date. Have you tried to leave several times before? Work out a strategy for leaving and involve others if you need to. Setting a deadline or timescale is also helpful.
There is life after this relationship! You are beautiful, wonderful, amazing and courageous. There is only one of you. You may not feel it now, and you may feel at the lowest ebb possible, but trust me, there is life after this. You can be happy again. You will be happy again. You are strong enough to be on your own. You have got the strength to do this, you will come out the other side stronger than you ever thought possible.
If you would like any more advise at all, or any further information about how I can support you, or anyone you know, please get in touch in confidence via the contact form below.
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