Okay, so this is a biggie, and I can’t pretend that I’m going to be able to do the subject justice, but I’m going to give it my best shot. I feel like I should also add a disclaimer to say that this is only my personal take on the issue, and everyone’s experience of domestic violence is unique, so if you do want any proper advice or information about this, you should visit Women’s Aid (www.womensaid.org.uk) or similar.
Domestic violence is probably more common than you think; although it’s a difficult subject to gather accurate statistics on. But how often do you hear people talking about it? And not just in a generic context, but people talking about their own personal experiences?
It’s a subject that has a wall of silence around it. A dark subject matter that stays buried within the homes and minds of those who experience it. But why? If your partner cheats on you, you’re likely to rant and rave about it and slag them off to anyone who will listen. So why not the same reaction if they hit you?
The big reason for me was thinking that it’s your fault. How warped is that? You think it’s your fault that the one person who is supposed to keep you safe, is doing the very opposite. You can be a bitch to live with. You cause arguments for the sake of it. You wind him up. No wonder he snaps. You don’t blame him. Looking back it’s easy to see how ridiculous that train of thought is and that there is NO excuse for it, but when that myth is being perpetuated by both your partner and your own thoughts, it’s very easy to believe it to be true. So inevitably you don’t want to speak out as you feel that you are equally at fault – if not more.
Of course there is also the shame factor. You don’t want people to think of you as weak, for ‘letting’ it happen. For living with it for so long. For not leaving. The longer it goes on, the more the shame grows. You fear the questions and judgement from people. Of course, it’s actually the perpetrator who should be ashamed, and be held accountable,but in your warped version of reality, that’s very difficult to see.
The fear of being alone is also very real. Whatever life you live becomes your ‘normal’ and it can be difficult to break away from that. Sometimes it’s easy to think that any relationship is better than none at all, and it’s just easier to keep quiet and stay where you are. Also, despite everything, you don’t want to get them in trouble. You want to protect them from the consequences of what they’ve done. Like it’s your duty somehow.
There are many, many reasons for keeping quiet about domestic violence, and I haven’t even scratched the surface here. The range of emotions it elicits is extraordinary, and I can barely begin to understand it myself. So I can completely understand the wall of silence that exists. But even more than that, I desperately want to break that wall down. I want people to be able to talk about the subject freely, and to feel safe in the knowledge that they shouldn’t be ashamed. It’s a big aim, but one that can only be achieved by people speaking out. So here I am – speaking out.