I remember I was one of the people who during the Little Mo domestic abuse story line on EastEnders sat in bewilderment staring at my screen....frustrated...willing her to just pack a case and leave him. I used to believe that if I was in a relationship like this in real life then I would simply pack a bag and go, there was no way I would ever let any one treat me like that.....it would only take one raised hand to me and I would be off out that door...wouldn't I ?
In reality ....I did end up being victim of domestic abuse ....and I didn't simply up and leave when I was issued with my first slap....but do I still consider myself a strong woman?......Well yes actually I do......I ended the relationship and lived on happily ...and anyone who has experienced this type of relationship will understand the strength, courage and determination it takes to do this.
Domestic abuse is a complex pattern of abuse and like a spiders web it has so many different strands to it that when you are stuck in the middle, it's extremely hard to find a safe way out. It creeps up on you over a period of time and before you know it you're trapped, feeling helpless and confused. Don't get me wrong if my ex had slapped me across the face on our first date.....I would have grabbed my coat and left probably phoning the police to report an assault on the way!!! If this was how abusers worked no one would go back for a second date...they know this and that's why domestic abuse is normally a cycle of good behaviour followed by an atrocity and then excuses and then the process repeats itself so the victim is in a constant state of confusing, not knowing whether the good or bad side of her partner is the one that will appear next.
Of course in hind sight there were plenty of signs that the relationship was destined for abuse...but at the time I did not know what to look out for. Things to be wary of are:
- The charmer - a full on Prince charming in the first few weeks, proclaiming "undying love" , claiming you are the love of his life, he has never loved anyone as much as you (this is all part of the trap to lure you in)
- Jealousy - at the beginning of the relationship this can be quite flattering but it is a very real warning sign, and it will get worse as the relationship progresses
- Controlling nature - does he want to know what you are doing all the time, do you feel that you have to constantly run things by him
- Superiority - be mindful if your partner thinks they are better than anyone else, often they feel that they are better than everyone else or that they maybe destined for fame
- Double standards - an abuser will often question you about one of their own issues, yet if you question them back all hell will break loose
- Isolation - an abuser will often make it difficult for you to keep in touch with your family and friends, often taking an instant dislike to them, causing rifts, the aim is here to break down your support network
- Temper - an abuser will loose his temper if he doesn't get his own way, again this will get worse over time until you are constantly walking on eggshells and being careful about everything you say in case it causes an outburst
- Name calling - an abuser will undermine you with criticism and name calling, everyone in relationships has disagreements at some point, but an abusers aim is to run you down and undermine your confidence making you feel that every row is your fault in some way
- Alcohol/drugs- abusers will often attempt to excuse their behaviour by saying they lost control due to drink etc. Yet when drunk with other people they are not abusive, so they are still fully in control of how they act.
Every woman should be aware of these signs, not all of them will appear at once and often people are in relationships for months before the true abusive characters begin to show their true colours. We need to spread the word to make more people aware of how damaging domestic abuse is...and try and get these statistics reduced !