So thanks to everyone who’s read and commented on the last two posts. They’ve been quite hard for me to write, and the encouragement I’ve gotten has really meant a lot. Thanks!
So I’ve been talking about how wide spread the problem of violence against women is. It’s easy to think of it as something that doesn’t really affect us here in the “developed” world. Sadly, it does, and the rates of both intimate partner and non intimate partner violence against women is increasing dramatically.
One of the questions I’ve been asked recently is simply – “why?”. In a country where our rights are enshrined in law and there are fairly well developed mechanisms of support for sufferers of violence, why on earth would anyone choose to stay in an abusive relationship?
I obviously can’t speak for everyone. But I have been in a relationship that, all too late, I realised was extremely controlling and abusive. So for what it’s worth, my thoughts –
Surely this is normal?
Which covers a whole variety of aspects. In my case, I guess, low self esteem leading me to believe this was what I deserved. Plus, a total lack of relationship knowledge and advice, and not feeling as if there was anyone I could talk to. I’ve been speaking about small actions recently – perhaps this is one. Perhaps we need simply to open up the conversation, so young women, like I was, know what a healthy relationship looks like – and, crucially, know that they’re worth nothing less.
Just not wanting everyone to know what had happened. Fear of not being believed, and of losing the impression everyone had of me being someone who had it all together.
At the time, I honestly believed I loved this guy, and feared what would happen to him if I left him. It’s taken me a while to realise that you can love someone, but for their health and yours, need to erect some pretty strong boundaries.
There are tonnes of other reasons – fear of attack, money issues, worries about parenting, cultural and religious reasons – the list goes on. But for all those reading, please hear me say this – there is no reason big enough to justify abuse of any sort. You – we – are worth so much more.
If you want to know more, particularly about domestic violence in the UK, a really useful website is thisisabuse.direct.gov.uk. It’s particularly good for teenagers, and I can’t help but feeling this is the key. We need to start creating a culture where, from the very start of their lives, young people are taught their value and worth, and where in particular, the one word girls will never be afraid to say is “no”. And the way to do that isn’t by any huge change, although they’re important. It’s by empowering young people to know that there is so much more to life than abuse and degredation – and we can all do that.