Any form of abuse is a severe violation of our basic human rights. It will likely be greatly destructive towards a woman’s psychological, physical and sexual health. Despite our voices proving to be louder now than ever, domestic abuse towards women remains a severe global, international and intercultural issue.
What is intimate partner abuse/ domestic abuse?
Science direct defines intimate partner abuse (IPA) as “emotional, physical, or sexual abuse, or stalking that occurs among individuals in an intimate (close) relationship including current and former spouses and dating partners.” This can consist of sexual coercion, physical assault and emotional manipulation.
Due to additional research published by WHO, it is suggested that most abuse towards women is a result of IPA. Internationally, around 40% of women murdered are victims of their intimate partner. It is also estimated that globally around one third (30%) of females who have been in a relationship report that they have experienced some form of physical and/or sexual violence by their intimate partner. These statistics may not prove to be a true representation however, as many victims remain silent due to fear and/or embarrassment.
Unfortunately, many victims also remain oblivious to the fact that they are experiencing abuse. Whether it be due to upbringing, socio-economic status or other personal circumstances, many women often deem instances of abuse as ‘normal’ behaviour.
Early signs of domestic abuse
Though early signs of abuse remain subjective to each individual, some of the most frequent warning signs include jealousy, the inability to ever to blame, threatening behaviour and the breaking or striking of objects. If you – or anyone that you know – are experiencing these signals, it is vital to get out now. None of these are acceptable – under any circumstances – and it is vital to leave instantly, before it inevitably becomes worse.
Lucy Chambers, 25, a Marketing Executive from Durham, recalls the early stages of her abusive relationship, “I was a victim of domestic abuse for around three years. Looking back, there was clear warning signs from the beginning. It started when if I ever wanted to go to a party or night out, he’d insist on being there too. “It’s not you I don’t trust, its other people. You could barely fight off a grown man” he’d insist, whilst the naïve 20-year-old would gush at his ‘protectiveness’.”
“We were both at University together at the time – another idea of his – and he started expecting me back within fifteen minutes of my lesson finishing. One time I arrived fifteen minutes ‘late’ and he became enraged, he began smashing plates and punching a hole in the wall. Even then I thought it was my fault, he manipulated me into believing that I’d turned him into this monster.”
Any woman can become a victim of domestic abuse, regardless of age, sexuality and social class. Statistics suggest however, that women are of a greater risk to experience IPA if they have little to no education, mothers who have been a victim of IPA, previous childhood abuse and mind-sets tolerant of abuse and male supremacy.
It is also estimated that women with mental health difficulties are approximately 40% more likely to become a victim of IPA, than those without. Emily Cason, 21, a student from Nottingham has also experienced domestic abuse. She bravely recalls, “My friends and family loved him, he was a bit older a came across mature and level-headed. Through my adolescence especially I was known for my temper and partying, so everyone saw how he’d ‘calmed me down’ and thanked him for it. I’ve battled with depression since my early teens and he convinced me to stop taking my antidepressants. I began to feel nothing and believed that to be ‘normality’, something else which we both credited to him. I didn’t realise until later that it was actually severe depression and he was its biggest contribution.”
Surviving domestic abuse
Many women feel trapped within their abusive relationships. Whether it be due to fear, having ‘ties’ such as children with the partner, or simply not knowing what to do, many feel like there is no way out. Here are some essential steps to take, in order to survive IPA:
- Recognising domestic violence and that you (or someone you know) are experiencing domestic abuse, is one of the biggest steps towards seeking help and leaving IPA. As many know little about domestic abuse, it is vital that community support and raising awareness remain consistent.
- Gathering evidence from current or past instances is essential, in order to successfully prosecute the abuser. Many wish to not testify during trials: more evidence will make the process as straightforward as possible, for the victim. Evidence includes: text messages, recordings and pictures of assault. No evidence should be collected if it jeopardises your welfare.
- Seeking help from the police, family, friends or colleagues, remains a vital means of surviving IPA.
- The National Domestic Violence Freephone Helpline (08082000247) is a 24 hour national service “for women experiencing domestic violence, their family, friends, colleagues and others calling on their behalf”.
Eventually with the support of a work colleague, Kimberly Auston, 20, from Newcastle, found the strength to leave her abusive relationship. She says, “It was a matter of the right person asking if I was okay at the right time. I can’t stress the importance of asking questions if you are suspicious, it may save a life. I did eventually end up going to the police and chose my constitutional right to not testify. Never having to see his face again allows me to sleep at night.”
You can and you will overcome this – it’s never too late to leave. It is time to end domestic violence against women. We are louder and stronger together: we will not back down.
All women within this article are now living happy, abuse-free lives.