Clouds dark as bruises
Hide behind a smiling mask
Chill rage of tyrants
Cherished illusions shattered
Silence mourns lost innocence
There are many forms of abuse within relationships. Not all of them leave bruises, but all of them leave scars. The less visible forms of abuse are often the ones that cut deepest and are the hardest to heal and their effects can be felt decades after the abuse has ended.
Many victims of abuse do not even realise that they are being abused, because the methods, including economic control, are insidious and do not always manifest as physical violence.
The welfare of children and pets can be used by abusers as weapons of coercion. Psychological abuse damages self confidence and can eradicate all sense of self worth. Social interaction can be restricted and controlled. Economic abuse effectively places victims in a position of dependence on their abuser and making it exceedingly difficult to leave.This can include holding the purse strings… or spending all the household income and expecting the victim to deal with the fallout. Victims may be forbidden the use of transport, have restricted access to food or be forced to go without necessities.
A draft bill just released in the UK has recognised the various methods of non-violent and economic control imposed upon partners in abusive relationships. It is a small step forward, but an important one, offering some protection to the victims.
Domestic abuse often goes unreported. Tragedies happen behind neighbours doors in households ruled by fear. Even when abuse is reported, it is not brought to justice as abusers have been able to coerce their victims to retract their statements.
It is not only women who are abused… many men suffer too, and for them it is even harder to escape, for our society expects them to be able to defend themselves and a man who cannot may be stigmatised as a weakling. Anyone who has suffered domestic abuse knows that it is never that simple…
Last year alone, in the UK, two million adults are known to have suffered domestic abuse. Of these, almost three quarters were women. On average, two women are killed every week in this country by their partners or ex-partners, who are almost always male.
There is help out there… and the law is beginning to recognise the need for change. In the UK, Refuge and Womens Aid are two of the many charities dedicated to ending abuse and helping victims become survivors. If you are a victim, or believe you may be a victim of abuse, open an in-private tab in your browser that will not show in your search history and visit their sites.
There is no shame in being a victim of abuse. It can happen to anyone… and the methods can be so vicious or so underhand that you are trapped before you realise. You don’t know where to begin… how to cope… where to go…
Becoming a survivor can happen to anyone too and you do not have to do it alone. Help is out there… you just have to ask.