Domestic abuse is a hugely important yet seldom talked about issue. Statistically 1 in 5 of us experience domestic abuse in one form or another, be it; physical, emotional, psychological or economic control. It is a common ignorance that abuse only becomes serious when it is physical violence; yet the effects of psychological, emotional and economical abuse effects can be arguably far more caustic to a victim than physical abuse and so in this piece I aim to quash the idea that abuse is solely physical.
The cycle of abuse typically starts with an emotional or economic dependence on one’s partner, the wage gap between men and women is extremely dangerous, as in a hard economic climate (as we currently live) with women earning statistically 25% less than men it is common for many women who suffer this discrimination to form a reliance on a partner who is able to support them and this can lead to the ‘supportive’ partner becoming possessive. It is for this reason that the promotion of female strength, education and the demotion of the ‘house wife’ stigma needs to be a vital focus in our society, promoting the long term careers of women. However, despite popular thought, men are also victims of domestic abuse – it is predicted that 40% of all domestic abuse cases are where men are the victims, a statistic which surprised me. The common idea of men needing to bottle up their feelings or “man up” is an extremely destructive thought – that someone is less of a man if they openly talk about their emotions or situations. It is all of our duties to ensure that our fellow citizens have someone to talk to and promote openness between each other, hopefully dismissing this ridiculous and typically English trait of keeping a ‘stiff upper lip’.
The impact on all people involved in domestic abuse, whether directly or indirectly, can be devastating. It is petrifying, all consuming, it fills you with uncertainty of the future, crushes your confidence and gives a feeling of entrapment. Confidence and self-respect can effectively disappear, the idea of a healthy, loving relationship can be distorted; this includes in the minds of the children of victims. This cycle can lead to suicide, and easily causes a long term attachment to an abusive partner; an attachment which is deadly and impossible to break. It is a common strategy of an abuser to isolate the victim from their friends and family, this gives the perpetrator more control. Control is the essence of abuse; without control, abuse doesn’t exist and control thrives from dependence on one person. It is hugely important as people that we are able to support ourselves and never let anyone remove this strength from us…No matter how much you love them or even they love you.
This cycle is breakable. Education is the key to fighting it. We must put an end to this being a subject not to be talked about, the taboo is vicious and allows victims to normalise an abusive situation. We all have a duty to reach out to everyone and encourage dialogue between us all, no one is exempt from this responsibility, perhaps just to lend a fraction of your time to chat to a vulnerable person, give them the opportunity to speak out. The promotion of gender equality is equally as important; this includes the aforementioned abolition of the ‘emotionless male’ stereotype and the promotion of female independence and power.
Victims, nor abusers fall in to one stereotype. They are not of any class, gender, ethnicity or age. There is no face to abuse, but the effects are all encompassing. We are the solution and without normal citizens acting compassionately to one another, this silent disease will continue to establish, and the cycle will remain unbroken.
By Tom Shaw