Domestic violence is a big problem and there’s a lot of women suffering in silence. They are living with it daily to keep their families together and they are coping with a living hell, that many of you can’t ever possibly relate to. I sincerely hope that you never have to.
Physical abuse is just one aspect of domestic violence. There is the emotional abuse and the controlling behaviour which is mentally damaging and can lower your self esteem. You feel worthless. When your abuser gives you a compliment or is nice to you, you are on top of the world with optimism that it is all going to be OK. Until the next time he gets angry over what seems like nothing. Often it is nothing. And you silently despair again and walk on eggshells to try and keep the peace.
Domestic violence comes in many forms, some women don’t even realise that they are being controlled until they try and do something for themselves. You may tell yourself ‘well at least he doesn’t hit me’ or ‘it’s not that bad as long as I do what he wants’ – wrong. You have every right to your own privacy, your own money and your self-respect to be preserved.
A sad story
I was only a young girl when I got to know ‘Jane’ briefly. We worked together. I was only 17 and spotted an advert in a local shop for an assistant. It was a skilled trade and I would have to go to college to do it. I didn’t want to go to college. I wanted a few weeks wages to be able to buy clothes and make-up before I went back to carry on with my A Levels after the summer holidays. I maybe worked there for a month before my excuses of being unable to get to the course they had arranged for me were starting to border on the ridiculous. I left the job and I didn’t see Jane again until many years after.
Jane* was a very pretty girl and very friendly. Always bubbly, always laughing. I enjoyed her company in work and she really taught me a lot in the short time that I knew her. She was engaged with a beautiful sparkly ring and would excitedly tell me about her wonderful boyfriend. I always remembered Jane and was so happy for her, she genuinely deserved to have a good life as she was such a beautiful person inside and out.
Jane married her boyfriend who was very successful in business. Jane continued with her lovely trade. They had a beautiful home, lots of holidays, several children. Jane had absolutely everything. Including a secret. I bumped into her again occasionally as we lived in the same village and we were always friendly, she’d drop a bottle off for Christmas and we’d talk about the kids. We both had busy lives. I was again really happy that this lovely woman had everything she ever hoped for 🙂
Did she have everything?
Fast forward many years and I was sitting in a doctor’s surgery next to an almost unrecognisable woman who was half drunk. She had greasy hair, yellow skin, bad make up and bloodshot eyes. She was wearing dirty scruffy clothes which was totally out of character as Jane always took pride in her hair and make up. I couldn’t believe it. She smiled at me and I said ‘hello’. She told me she was living in the local hostel and hadn’t seen her children for months. A victim of domestic violence for many years, she had lost the lot. Her abuser was clever, he turned the police and the social services against her. Took control of the money and the children and kept her drunk with a constant supply of alcohol which eventually turned Jane into a serious alcoholic with a failing liver. A well respected business man in the town, with a long family history of business. What chance did she have?
I tried to help Jane and she told me how she was beaten and abused for years. It went to court and he got away with it. How he would hide her make-up bag and take her belongings. How he had turned the kids against her. The whole story came out. It was very hard to listen to. This woman was forced to drink water out of the dogs bowl when she was dehydrated.
Jane came to stay with me for a few weeks and I promised to help do whatever I could to make sure she saw her children and got her own place to live. One thing I could not do was control Jane. She had made friends in the hostel and the homeless people had now become her family as they had been there for her when everyone else had turned their backs. I had to respect that and let Jane go back to the life she had gotten used to. As sad as it was, I was powerless to stop it. So I left Jane, in the local town. Sitting on the bench with other broken people. We said our goodbye’s and I said I am always there for her. Jane chose alcohol and drugs and a life on the streets now. It was all she had left. This beautiful kindhearted lady was broken in her thirties.
Never judge a book by its cover. Never. If you have a few pounds spare, give it to that homeless person sat there. You never know where they have been. ‘I’m not giving them money, they might buy booze or drugs’ – so fucking what if they do? Buy them a drink. Make their day a little brighter, because I can guarantee that those people aren’t sitting begging for money because they want to be. They have nothing. Not even self respect anymore.
But why do you put up with it?
There is a lot of women also, who just can’t understand it. I have read posts time and time again when women have reached out for help and other women have said ‘Leave him’ – ‘I wouldn’t stand for that’. Well neither would you prior to the violent relationship, right?
You were once that strong and confident woman who would never tolerate such behaviour but unless you have experienced it for yourself, you really don’t understand. It is NOT that simple. It is even less so when you have children and you want so desperately for the father (or step-father) of your children to change.
Perhaps he wants you to be constantly pregnant, or perhaps you have been forced to have an abortion.
Whatever is happening to you at home, please don’t suffer in silence.
Don’t become Jane.
* Not her real name