15 Sep The Abuse in the Room
Domestic Abuse Image Copyright: kmiragaya / 123RF Stock Photo
Sometimes it takes a slap (metaphorical or not) in the face to wake up to the reality of what is happening to us. But when that slap comes from the person we are most intimate with we may still not be able to see the light. Emotional domestic abuse, the most common kind, is even more insidious, gradually eroding away our self-worth until we start to internalise our partner’s vitriol, justifying their outbursts and promising to try harder next time to appease them (sometimes referred to “gaslighting”.)
Sadly, the stereotypes that persist in the outside world do little to inspire hope for our victims of domestic abuse. Janay Palmer received more than a slap from her footballing fiance Ray Rice, and yet even the sight of her unconscious body being dragged from a lift was not enough to lose him his job until it was backed up by video evidence of an actual physical assault. And it is worth noting here that the scourge of domestic abuse transcends age, gender, sexuality and physical ability (note the fear that the partners of Oscar Pistorius experienced in his presence). Men are as likely to be victims of domestic abuse and violence as women are, and same sex couples are also in the mix.
Returning to Palmer; did she leave Rice after the incident? No, she married him. What so many on the outside fail to realise is that love and hate become closely entwined in an abusive relationship, so much so that behaviour can seem illogical and bizarre. But what is so strange about wanting to see the best in someone you love? To believe they will change their ways? To opt to endure the fear of pain and humiliation rather than the fear of death that so often proves well-founded when abused spouses leave their abusers?
How to Stop the Domestic Abuse
If you feel frightened by your partner or often on edge in their presence or you feel you may be abusing your partner – even if you don’t fully accept that you are experiencing or causing domestic abuse – contacting a suitably qualified therapist will help bring clarity and, if necessary, the hope of a way out or to stop. It is normal to feel you are betraying your partner by taking this course of action, but be assured that therapists are not interested in apportioning blame. Instead you will explore how the domestic abuse began, what your life was like before the domestic abuse and what helps you to feel OK about yourself.