Statistics recording domestic violence, rape and child abuse are exceedingly under reported crimes and are consequently ‘hidden’ from public scrutiny as a result.
The reason for under reporting are diverse with many complex social, economic and legal elements including the source and reporting authority contributing to the notoriously understatement of violence against women.
The appalling result of this under reporting is the frequency of abuse is most likely very much higher than the statistics would suggest.
The reality of this statement was demonstrated through a late night phone call from a distressed woman pleading for help. Her friend was suicidal and suffering deep depression.
I have been given permission by Alice to tell her story (not her real name)
This is the true story of Alice in monster land.
Following up on the distressed friends call, I arranged to meet with Alice.
Alice appeared to be suffering from post traumatic stress, low self esteem, depression and having no confidence in herself with a foreboding anxiety of having no future as a result of the controlling and abusive relationship she had endured during her marriage and even now after the divorce her ex husband continued to exert power over Alice controlling her life she felt threatened and living under his shadow.
They had started their lives together as two self employed, strong personalities, in love, each contributing towards a bright future together.
The transformations in Alice’s husband’s behaviour were subtle and progressive and, looking back over the years, the pattern becomes clear:
What is Relationship Abuse?
Relationship Abuse is a pattern of abusive and coercive behaviours used to maintain power and control over a former or current intimate partner. An abusive relationship means more than being hit by the person who claims to love or care about you. Abuse can be emotional, psychological, financial, sexual or physical and can include threats, isolation, and intimidation. Abuse tends to escalate over time. When someone uses abuse and violence against a partner, it is always part of a larger pattern to try to control her/him.
It is not your fault
If you are being abused by your partner, you may feel confused, afraid, angry and/or trapped. All of these emotions are normal responses to abuse. You may also blame yourself for what is happening. But no matter what others might say, you are never responsible for your partner’s abusive actions. Dating abuse is not caused by alcohol or drugs, stress, anger management, or provocation. It is always a choice to be abusive.
* Content courtesy of the Centre for Relationship Abuse Awareness.
- Relationship abuse is a pattern of abusive and coercive behaviours used to sustain power and control over a former or current intimate partner. An abusive relationship means more than being hit by the person who claims to love or care about you.
- Many survivors find that emotional abuse difficult to name or even talk about, because there are no visible bruises or broken bones. The biggest problem is that others don’t believe them.
Warning signs of Abuse in a Relationship
- Victims often don’t recognise the signs of abuse from within their relationship. Friend and family members, and colleagues often pick up the signs first of a controlling and abusive relationship.
Understanding an Abusive Relationship
- Abusive relationships seldom start with physical violence and incorporate numerous methods of one person exerting power and control over another. There are elements of physical, sexual and emotional abuses to establish power and control over the victim
Obstacles to leaving the Abusive relationship
- “Why don’t they leave?” The reality is that there are many obstacles in finding safety from an abusive relationship. Leaving can be dangerous; there are financial factors that an abusive partner can use. Understanding these issues can help a victim out of an abusive relationship.
Prepare to Exit
- Develop a safety plan for yourself if you need to leave quickly know ahead of time where to go safely and get help. Prepare to set yourself up independently, away from your abuser, both temporarily and permanently.
Get a Restraining Order
- A Domestic Violence Restraining Order is an essential tool in taking back the power of your own life! A Restraining Order tells the abuser through legal action to stop abusing, threatening and controlling you.
- Domestic violence is against the law. The police are there to protect you.
Port Elizabeth has various agencies offering, counselling, family therapy, safe House facility for mother and children on an over night or longer term and various other Social services.
There are no support groups that we were able to identify as operating in the City.
A support group is being set up with Alice to provide a structure that will support, empower, nurture and provide relevant contact details of other agencies that offer specialised assistance.
The group will also lobby for support and stronger Government action in the fight against Women Abuse.
Premises have been secured for weekly meetings and include a once a month pampering session for members.
This is a vital component in providing a safe and nurturing environment sustaining abused women and empowering them to take back and control their own destinies.
If you are being abused or think you are being abused, you should seek help immediately.
For information contact John Preller on 084 446 7137.
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