Thursday, 23 April 2009

A victim's world

Sitting on the train on a return journey to University recently, I found myself thrust into the vicinity of domestic abuse.
Wishing I had sat in the quiet zone, my late-night journey became corrupt by a male, whose constant abuse towards his girlfriend was as shocking as it was anti-social. Threats, vile language, demeaning comments and an overwhelming sense of a controlling attitude caused me increasing concern and aggravating annoyance.

Upon witnessing this sort of behaviour first-hand, it led me to think about the growing nationwide trend that is domestic violence. Many may believe that domestic violence comes only in the form of physical abuse, but verbal threats warped with condescending comments fall under the category as much as any form of actual bodily harm.
Alarming as it is, domestic violence is a fact of life in many households in Britain. The key to help is to speak out.

One in four women are affected by domestic violence and two women per week are killed at the hands of a partner or ex-partner. These figures are extreme and the realisation of them immediately sends minds into over-drive about the amount of women known to you and the number of which could experience domestic abuse, relative to these figures being true.

The police receive one call per minute from a victim of domestic violence, but the statistic that less than half of cases are not reported through fear of the consequence still stands. The vast majority of victims are women and children. One victim is likely to experience repeated assaults at the hands of their abuser. One of the main resonating reasons for domestic violence is that the abuser thrives for control.

The motive of male domination is a large part of why domestic violence may occur. As a consequence of inequalities, many males feel that they have the right to instigate the actions of a woman by controlling what the woman does, where she goes, who she socialises with and what she wears. However small the aspect of control may seem, it is control nonetheless and it must be treated as unacceptable. Criticism of appearance and weight are the smaller things that, emotionally, hurt the most. Belief in oneself is key.

Sexual jealousy and possessiveness are the most common factors relating to serious domestic problems. A male might feel that a woman cannot wear certain clothes or go to certain places at the risk of attracting other males’ attention. This often resides back to the abuser’s own insecurities rather than anything else. On the most part, the male seeks to gain authority. Even when women officially did not have the same rights as men, men never had the right to exploit their partners. One factor of society that has never altered.

With disregard to the standard stereotypical definition of domestic abuse, such action can be in many forms. The violence can be psychological, physical, sexual or emotional. It can include 'honour-based violence', female genital mutilation, and forced marriage. It spans the range of cultures and is not isolated to one type of person or one area of the world. However, women under the age of thirty are considered to be at greater risk than those older. Not surprisingly, domestic violence is a mass problem and one that is often kept quiet.

Bullying is usually surveyed as something which happens in the playground, but physical, verbal and emotional abuse behind the closed doors of the home is just as frequent. There are many organisations which a woman can turn to for help. The first step is admission to what is happening being wrong. Admittedly, the most challenging part of getting help is the first step to escape. The empowerment from the moment aid is sought should ease the remainder of the journey back to true self-discovery.

For the males who entangle themselves in the world of a domestic abuser, there is often no change. The moment an action of domestic violence occurs, the male is tarred with this brush and a true revelation is rarely a feasible preference.

Although you should rarely judge a book by its cover, whoever said that first impressions count, created a worthwhile philosophy for everyone to take note of. My short-lived experience of domestic abuse on the train is nothing compared to the experiences of thousands of women who suffer at the hands of their partner. A snippet into the life of a victim was enough for me, not to mention more than enough for the young girl who reluctantly became a victim of domestic violence.

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