With Crown Court fast approaching, I am acutely aware of the uncomfortable questions I am going to have to answer soon. I am acutely aware of how I am going to be forced to justify my actions in front of a whole court room full of strangers, and how my movements and actions, conduct and more importantly inactions, are going to be scrutinised, as a jury deliberates over whether my Ex-partner is to be found guilty of seven counts of rape, or not. In the aftermath of the Janay Rice/Palmer assault, which was captured on CCTV and caused her now-husband an indefinite ban from future American Football games, Domestic Violence has been a topic in the media, with many asking “Why did she stay”, and why on earth did she go on to marry him, the day after he was indicted on a third degree aggravated assault charge against her.
Many people struggle to understand why anyone would stay in a violent and abusive relationship, and often come to the secondary conclusion, that the “abuse” can’t have been that bad, if the victim chose to stay, instead of running a mile. I know that, in a few months, I am going to have to answer that question, as I will give testimony of how I was systematically abused, assaulted and raped for years.
Before I was a victim of Domestic Violence, I might have been on the other side of that scenario, I might have sworn blind, I’d never let a man lay a finger on me, and that I’d leave the instant that he did. I would have said I’m a strong woman, asserted that I would never succumb to a man, let alone let him victimise and abuse me! Fast forward seven years, and, well …Ignorance is bliss… as they say. Hindsight is a beautiful thing, and knowing what I know now, I’m aware of just how ignorant and damaging such claims are.
Ask any victim of Domestic Abuse, and they will tell you just how hard leaving, and staying separated, is. One must remember, that abusers aren’t behaving the way ‘normal’ people do- , sometimes because they are clinically disordered, sometimes because their narcissistic, or psychopathic tendencies or personalities won’t allow them to, sometimes and perhaps mostly, simply because they don’t want to. Abusers, generally speaking, aren’t individuals who simply accept the end of a relationship. Quite often they have ‘worked hard’ at establishing control over their victim, and the end of a relationship would mean to lose control, and that is, quite simply, not an acceptable concept to them. So when people say, “Why didn’t she leave?”, they categorically fail to acknowledge the fact, that a lot of victims simply can’t. Domestic abuse often starts, or escalates, only after the relationship is established and some form of commitment has been entered. In many cases, the abuse starts with the couple’s first pregnancy or child, after some form of financial commitment was made (mortgage, car finance, large credit, etc.), or the victim is economically, financially, or emotionally dependent on the abuser. Outsiders often also fail to realise that simply ending the relationship, does not mean that the interactions or contact with the abuser ends. In many cases, victims are stalked, harassed, coerced, manipulated, threatened, or further victimised and assaulted, until returning to the abuser simply seems like the lesser evil. If the couple has children, the nightmare rarely ends for the victim, and her children, as the abuser frequently (ab)uses the children as pawn in his scheme to further inflict pain on his victim, and maintain as much control over her life as possible.
The #WhyIstayed hashtag, which surfaced after the Palmer/Rice media coverage, really hit home, because I realise that as I walk into court as some point in the near future, I will have a group of jurors wondering the exact same thing. Those twelve people will be told the extent of my “allegations” against my Ex-partner, and father of my child, and they will wonder, why I resumed a relationship after having been in court once before, why I remained in a relationship with a man who has injured me to the point of needing Emergency Treatment, and why, after having been brutally raped, I carried on the relationship for another 15 months or so, only for it to happen, over and over again. I realise that for some, the reasoning behind me staying is simply too abstract, that my personal views on what was acceptable and what was not, what I considered safe and what I didn’t may seem skewed and arbitrary at best, and downright unbelievable, pathetic, weak and dumb at worst. Unless one really takes the time, however, to empathetically and critically look into the psychological dynamics and profiles of both perpetrators and victims, most probably will never really understand why anyone would stay.
I had to attend A&E late at night because he’d thrown a wooden brick in my face injuring my eye ( temporary loss of sight, permanent change in vision and shape of my pupil ) and giving me concussion. He harassed, called and text all the way to the hospital, whilst I was waiting, being examined and on the way home. He repeatedly reminded me that my child was with him and to ‘ not do anything stupid ‘ , and I was exhausted and weak from being sick from concussion. The medical treatment took several weeks and I had no support and no where to go. #WhyIStayed
I tried to leave – and he abused and beat me all day. He smashed my head against the wall repeatedly – He broke my phone and sim, disconnected the landline, locked the doors and hid the key. He choked me with a belt that night and raped me, then told me if I tried to leave again he’d kill our child and me . I had no support & nowhere to go. #WhyIStayed
Truth about Domestic Violence: my own personal experience with DV and also about general issues in relation to Domestic Violence and Intimate Partner Rape, exposing the truth in just how severely victims are let down, in particular by poor policing and in the family courts.