After I opened up about my own experience in an abusive relationship earlier this year, I was inundated with many messages from women who wrote how my story triggered the realisation that they too had been in relationships where the the power imbalance left them feeling psychologically raped. Although there was no physical violence in the relationship, the verbal and emotional abuse had unhinged a profound wound that left a feeling of pain, confusion and vulnerability.
As a society we often associate domestic violence with a physical act that harms one and empowers the other. We often fail to remember that domestic abuse is insidious and begins with words. A perpetrator “butters” up their victim before they begin to slowly murder their soul. These selective words start innocently like, “I like your outfit but I think you should wear pants instead of that skirt.” Then gradually build into, “You look like a slut in that skirt.” Usually by this stage the victim is emotionally paralysed and although they are aware that their circumstances are not normal, leaving seems more difficult than staying.
You Are in An Unhealthy Relationship If Your Partner…
1. Tells you what to wear, how you should wear your make up (or tells you to not wear make up), do your hair, take a step back in personal grooming
2. Monitors where you are and who you are with
3. Checks your phone with or without your knowledge
4. Forces or pressures you to have sex with them even though you keep saying NO
5. Feels compelled tell you who you should or should not hang out with
6. Tells you how to spend your money or controls your money. For example, forces you to transfer a certain amount of money to their account every pay day and gives you a “budget”
7. Emotionally manipulates you into feeling guilty about how “You are treating them“
8. Violates your personal boundaries by a a wicked sense of entitlement that they are “Allowed” to do or say whatever they want to to you
9. Controls whether of not you’re “Allowed” to leave the house and often forces you to “Ask for permission” before doing so
10. Invalidates your feelings by dismissing them or ignoring how you feel altogether
11. Insults your appearance, anything to do with your profression, income etc.
Domestic Abuse Doesn’t Discriminate
As you can see from this list (& there are plenty more examples), the fine line between emotional and physical abuse is often blurred but the damage is transparent. Unfortunately, domestic abuse isn’t limited to gender, age, social status, race, religion or sexual orientation. People from all walks of life can find themselves in relationships that leave them feeling helpless, powerless and grieving a loss of self. The trauma and feeling of betrayal victims are left with often lead to mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts long after the perpetrator has left their lives.
1 in 3 Women
1 in 6 Men
EXPERIENCE SOME FORM OF DOMESTIC ABUSE
By firstly acknowledging that domestic abuse is extremely close to all of our homes, we then introduce a dialogue that encourages a conversation allowing victims to confidently come forward and seek the professional help and support they need. A community effort is required to take these offences seriously and for victims to feel safe enough to come forward and report crimes.
As a general initiative to raise awareness for domestic abuse, the Sitting Right With You Campaign was created by K2L Marketing without the usual “shock” value and opted for a more subtle approach. By using a bright yellow sofa as the main prop of the “pop-up” installation could be seen in various public places throughout Greater Manchester. It features a talking yellow sofa ‘speaking’ a broad mix of messages, each typical of a different, real-life domestic abuse scenario. These include “She checks my phone all the time” or “I can only go out with my friends when he says it’s ok”, amongst others. Passers by have mentioned how the pop-up makes them realise that although domestic abuse is widespread, most people still don’t talk about it and it can also been seen as a private issue or taboo in our society.
For anyone reading this, whether you personally know me or not, I am part of that “1 in 3 women” statistic. It took me ten years to open up this can of worms and slowly, as I pull out and deal with each worm day by day, I heal another piece of my soul. My experience in an abusive relationship lead me to a suicide attempt, triggered a decade long problem with alcohol, substance abuse and deepened my depression. I am currently sober, clean and dealing with my demons day by day. I don’t let this experience define me, I let it empower me to help me find you.