The end of national Domestic Violence month is coming to an end once again, and what’s different? Year on year the statistics are still so high, in the USA last year over 4,000 women were murdered because of the crime that hides inside the house.
Every day there are men, and women, in positions of power even after the public are made aware of their abusive behaviours towards their romantic counterparts – not always current partners. 95% of victims are female, making up 8.2% of the general population, this statistic is made up of all different types of women.
Domestic violence isn’t a frail women cowering in a corner while her drunk stained-white-vest-wearing husband raises his tattoo’ed arm – no.
It is the woman who never comes to social events because she’s not allowed, it’s the hothead guy who cannot stand his girl talking to anyone. It’s the victim locking themselves in the bathroom while the abuser kicks down the door. Every victim has a different story of physical and/or emotional abuse.
Society judges these women for not leaving their abuser and then once public it’s always “I wish we could go back, we’d have realised how serious the situation really was.”
It’s not whether the victim is black and blue or fresh faced, it’s the manipulation and escalation. One day it’s a passive aggressive comment on that skirt then next week it’s an abusive message because you’re late home, these steps may seem to small whether you’re in the situation or just looking at it but these steps reach to a climatic and devastating end. These small things are not coming from a place of love and it’s time that ‘pulling hair in the playground’ wasn’t just ‘boys being boys’ but a sign of aggression.
Mariama, a survivor of abuse, spoke to The Guardian earlier this month and said: “If photographs always show hitting or bruises it means that men who don’t hit absolve themselves of the label abuser because they don’t leave bruises. Also it makes people think that if a woman doesn’t have bruises she must be OK.”
Domestic violence is largely ignored by mainstream media, widely missed friends and co-workers and once people do become aware it is often questioned: “But what did you do to get him so wound up?” and then followed by “are you sure?”. Ask yourself this, what behaviour justifies getting ‘beat on’: interrupting the football? This was a justified reason in Stephen Bird’s head just last year, he strangled his wife for chatting while he was trying to watch a game. Nichola, his wife, endured a thirty minute attack while her husband received a £100 fine.
If society still insists on victim blaming then where can the line be drawn? What’s bad enough to ‘deserve a smack’ – is anything? No, a big fat fucking no.
What chance do the men and women facing this violence really have if society continues to silence and shun victims? Inside the home they’re in danger, outside the home they aren’t believed and statistics support that those partners who do try to leave the home that’s when they face the most danger.
Love shouldn’t hurt, society shouldn’t victim blame and those abused shouldn’t need to fear disbelief. Abusers are the problem, but arguably societies ignorance is an enabler.
Tina has five years experience working a domestic abuse charity, and decided to join this weeks debate with an exclusive interview.