I was very lucky to have grown up with two parents, who were happily married.
They argued, but I always knew that they loved each other. Not once did I see them lay a hand on each other in violence. However, I have suffered domestic abuse. I have been lucky and survived and rebuilt my life, but many more are not so fortunate.
Recently in the local news we have heard how one man attacked his wife so viciously that she will be scarred for life. It is estimated that 10 per cent of all emergency calls are due to domestic violence.
To lie next to someone every night, torn between love and fear, must be impossible to tolerate. Yet for many that is the reality of their lives every day.
The soaps like to portray domestic violence, and quite rightly so, but I think they tend to have a happy ending. For the majority of people this is not the case and never will be, often with tragic consequences.
Children are growing up in surroundings of fear and physical violence is the norm. When they grow up, a majority of these will believe this is acceptable behaviour and continue the cycle of abuse. It is easy to think that people in these situations can easily remove themselves, but in truth that can be almost impossible. Support is available but the options of refuges are often seen as worse than putting up with the ‘odd slap’.
Eventually that will develop into more severe violence. Emotional abuse is often more damaging and can last a lifetime, even if the partner does escape. If someone tells you often enough how worthless you are, it will get to a point, where that person truly believes that and thinks they deserve what they are getting. No amount of intervention will convince them they are a victim and life can be different.
The cycle of abuse can be seen every day, often I see young children talking to a parent with no respect. The child learns this from somewhere, if they see the father or mother behaving a certain way to someone; they will not question it, until they are much older. What is the answer?
Victims of domestic violence appear in every corner of society. Homosexual, straight, rich or poor, black or white – domestic violence does not discriminate. Yet probably the strangest thing is that no matter what your background, the reaction and shame is always the same.
Anybody who is going through this needs support and not judgment from those around them. None of us knows what goes on behind closed doors and probably wouldn’t want to. But if you or someone you know needs help then please get it.