Friday, 24 March 2017

The shiny step

I was talking to a friend about domestic abuse some months back. She told me​ a story of a woman who was often injured by her husband. The story took place in a time where ladies on terraced streets kept their front steps clean. The cleanliness of your front step represented who you were. It mattered in the context they lived in. There was a woman in the story who didn't keep her step clean. She was the victim of domestic abuse. One of woman's neighbours commented, in scalding response to this woman's situation "well, look at the state of her step". The implication being that she deserved the abuse. Her husband was entitled to injure her because she wasn't maintaining proper standards. I'll let that sink in. It's an appalling statement isn't it. Though spoken many years ago, similar mentalities continue today.

I had another conversation with an ex colleague about the physical abuse experienced by Rihanna at the hands of Chris Brown. Notably we discussed the heavily publicised attack that left Rihanna injured. My ex colleague said "she probably deserved it". Obviously I was very swift to correct her, once I'd recovered from my shock at her words. The context of the abuse is irrelevant. Unless he was literally fighting for his life (he wasn't) then, no, Rihanna was the victim of abuse. There is no justification. There is victim. There is perpetrator. That's it.

Abusers will utilise every excuse at their disposal to justify their behaviour. Examples will include: I was stressed. You drove me to it. Whispering a threat is not the same as shouting it. I was jealous. I was drunk. I was stoned.  I was joking. You started the argument. You were jealous. I was worried..........

Abusers can be brilliant at disguising their behaviour. They can switch their emotions on and off. One moment they can be calm, the next screaming threats. Life with an abusive person is like dancing on eggshells. You always try to second guess them. Sometimes you recognise the signs of what's to come, which is abuse in itself. Sometimes it comes from nowhere.

There is no justification. Each of the stories above have common themes - abusers who believe they are justified in hurting someone else and bystanders who normalise thus accept their behaviour.

If you believe you are being abused, you are. Leave the abuser. If you see abuse, help the victim as quickly and, if possible, as discreetly as feasible. Only by standing together against domestic abuse will it ever end.


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