The face of domestic abuse
I am not a professional counsellor, but in the absence of any noticeable public outcry by the recognised institutions providing support for abused victims,[most likely due to a lack of funding] against the most recent homicide as a result of domestic abuse, I feel compelled to pen this letter, in the hope that it will be printed and that at least one life can saved.
WHAT IS THE FACE OF DOMESTIC ABUSE?
It is not only the face of the abuser or the victim, it is the faces of the grieving children, parents and other relatives and friends of the victim, it is the face of the pastor, who can be able to say; ‘ here lies a good Christian, who loved, honoured and obeyed, in good times and bad, for better or worse, til death…….’, it is the faces of her neighbours and members of her church, who knew her situation and only did so much to help and in hindsight, now say ‘we should have done this or that or the other’.
In my opinion, the main problem is many persons, even victims, do not recognise signs of domestic abuse until it is too late, and even if the do, are ignorant of what they can do to help.
THE CYCLE OF ABUSE.
Domestic abuse follows a typical pattern no matter when it occurs or who is involved, be it men, women, children or the elderly. The cycle repeats itself, and each time, the level of abuse may increase. At each stage, the abuser is in full control of themselves and is working to control and further isolate their victim. It is important to recognise that the victim is never to be blamed and that the abuser is always the one responsible.
Six distinct stages make up the cycle of abuse;
[i] ABUSE: this can be emotional, physical,sexual,psychological, economic or social.
[ii] GUILT: the victim may feel guilty about what they have been accused of doing or not doing, But the accuser does not feel guilty for abusing or hurting their victim. The abuser will apologise, sometimes profusely, but only because they do nou want to face consequences or be held accountable.
[iii] RATIONALIZATION : The abuser makes excuses and blames the victim for his behaviour. e.g. “ If you clean the house i wouldn’t have to hit you,” or, “ If you cook on time, I wouldn’t have to hit you,” or “ If you did not speak to other people, I would not sleep with other men /women.
[iv] NORMAL BEHAVIOUR: The abuser may act as though nothing happened, or become thoughtful, charming, loyal and kind, take the victim to dinner, buy gifts and promise to change,… to really change… this time.
[v] FANTASY AND PLANNING : Abuse is planned. The abuser is is the actor, producer, director and star of the next time the abuse may occur. This may take weeks as the abuser thinks of what the victim has done “wrong” and how to make them “pay”. The most common accusation is having an affair, and it is always totally impossible to prove that you are not having one.
[vi] THE SET-UP : The victim goes out for some legitimate reason and is accused of having an affair…..abuse starts again.
WHY DO VICTIMS STAY IN THE RELATIONSHIP?
Many may have been raised in a violent home / neighbourhood, and do not view abuse as abnormal or aberrant. many do not realise they can leave. many lack the educational oreconomic resources to survive on their own. Many have little or no community support…..”She like the licks,” or ” he like butter buns” are common comments.Some will be ridiculed by their friends and family for leaving. many believe leaving will show the world the shame they privately feel. Many mistakenly view the failure of the relationship as “their” failure. Some think of their children suffering or being harmed. And many, rightly so fear greater abuse or death.
Some confuse sexual acts with acts of love, and jealousy and possessiveness with romantic behaviour, And many believe if they give their partner unconditional love, they will stop their abuse and return that love….// until it is too late.
HOW TO HELP A VICTIM OF ABUSE.
[i] Listen to the victim.Never ever blame them and let them know you care.
[ii] Give victims emotional support. Tell them : “You don’t deserve this;” “This is not your fault;” and “I believe you”. Remind them of their strengths and abilities and let them know that there is nothing wrong with them.
[iii] Let the victim know they are in danger of more abuse and even death.
[iv] Contact support groups [eg Help and Shelter] ie if they have funding to help, and ask what they can do.
[v] DONT TELL THE VICTIM WHAT TO DO. Instead discuss the options available and allow the victim to find the best solutions.
[vi] Help the victim to make a safety plan, to think through precautions to take care of them selves and kids.
* make aa list of the people they can call.
* Hide or give someone a bag with a few clothes, money, keys, I.D., documents etc. so they can leave quickly.
* Arrange certain signals with friends, neighbours and family with your phone, lights blinds if you need help
* contact and make arrangements with family or friends in another region or country.
[vii] If abuse is actively occurring, call 911 or nearest police station or Community Police. Get their number!!!!
REMEMBER, 75% of victims are seriously injured or killed while leaving or have left their abusive partner. so use extreme caution when this is considered. Police or support groups should give professional help.
AND ABUSERS VERY SELDOM CHANGE, THEY USUALLY JUST HIBERNATE.