Why doesn t she just leave? He justified himself so rationally I thought this was how relationships were supposed to be. I thought this was normal.

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1 Why doesn t she just leave? He justified himself so rationally I thought this was how relationships were supposed to be. I thought this was normal.

2 Why doesn t she just leave? A lot of people may ask themselves why someone suffering domestic abuse does not leave, but abusive relationships are more complex than they seem to be. Domestic abuse affects 1 in 5 women in Scotland; the abuse can be physical, sexual, financial, and emotional/psychological. These forms of abuse can happen to anyone, whether they are in adult, teenage, straight and/or LGBT relationships, but the statistics show that most victims of domestic abuse are women. However, men can be abused by women, women can be abused by women and men can be abused by men. (In recognition that it is mainly women who are disproportionally affected by domestic abuse, the examples that follow will usually refer to women as victims of abuse rather than as perpetrators) The different forms of abuse (physical, sexual, financial, and emotional/psychological) often combine and create a situation from which the abused person finds it difficult to escape. Even though the physical and sexual abuse can have serious health consequences, it is the emotional/psychological abuse which sometimes is the most difficult to recognise, endure, and also to explain to others. This type of abuse and the use of fear have a crucial role in keeping people caught in abusive relationships.

3 Going into more detail, domestic abuse can take many more forms. For example, together with physical and sexual abuse, the abuser can use: Intimidation: Making her afraid by using looks, actions and gestures. Destroying property. Displaying weapons. Abusing pets. Isolation: Controlling what she does, who she sees or talks to, where she goes, what she reads. Controlling access to social media by sharing one account. Phones can be used as tracking devices, for example constant texts, phone calls or the abuser may apply an app to the phone to find out where the abused partner is. Financial Abuse: all bills, loans, credit cards in her name. Making her pay his debts. Giving her a daily allowance. Not allowing her to have a bank or savings account. Denying: Making light of the abuse. Saying the abuse never happened. Making jokes about the abuse. Saying it was her fault. Using Children: Using the children to relay messages or to get information about her. Threatening to take the children away. Using visit time to harass her. Privilege: Treating her like a servant. Making all the decisions himself. Creating / imposing rules. Threats: Threatening to hurt her or the children, to leave her, to kill her or kill himself, or to report her to social services or the immigration authorities. Adapted from the Power and Control Wheel Domestic Abuse Intervention Project org/pdf/powerandcontrol.pdf It was the fact that he used to make me feel stupid or paranoid. Always accusing me of flirting or having an affair with work colleagues. Making it intolerable if I wanted to spend time with friends or go out, by not talking to me or telling the children I was just a slut!! Saying things like What age do you think you are 14? You re 40, you can t wear that. It would have been easier if this was only in private, but when he did it in front of others it made me feel about 2 inches tall and really wore away at my self-confidence. It was not until I talked about it with some friends at work that I realised it shouldn t be like that. I really just stayed out of duty to my children, but when I realised that they were not happy because they could tell I was unhappy then I decided enough was enough.

4 Some other behaviour that the abuser may use may focus on weakening the abused person social networks, making their partner feel exhausted, and may also focus on mental manipulation. For example: Cutting family, social and financial links The abuser becomes the only focus of attention Physical and mental exhaustion The abused partner is not allowed to: socialise use the phone or the Internet be in touch with family or friends learn English get an education access money drive send or receive letters or s Social networks shrink: She feels her world is closing in sabotage opportunities for her to work or to develop her own interests make her responsible for meeting his needs and wants justify the abuse by saying: You re crazy I do this because I love you if you didn t give me reasons, this wouldn t happen make arguments longer put pressure on the victim to have sex deny her food, drink, rest, sleep, medical treatment set high standards of cleanliness force the victim to home-school their children My friends and family were 300 miles away and he didn t like me ringing them and, because he didn t like me going out in the evenings or at weekends, I couldn t make friends locally. I was isolated. He was all I had.

5 Threats Occasional Indulgences Showing Power Degradation Trivial Demands The abuser may threaten: to harm/kill the victim to harm/kill their children to harm/kill their pets to have the victim deported to abuse the children to find the victim if she leaves behave as the caring/charming person he used to be promise to change/to start counselling buy chocolates/flowers to apologise for his behaviour babysit the children to give her some time for herself help with the housework To show his power, the abuser may: use physical violence force her to have sex brand her putting a tattoo on her kill the victim and then himself (ultimate demonstration of power) use verbal abuse/insults/name-calling/threats/blaming force the victim to do things she finds degrading such as: have sex with other people engage in sexual practices she s not comfortable with wear clothes she s not comfortable with participate in making pornography make a list of dos and don ts make her follow a schedule force her to clean where it s already clean force her to re-cook meals The examples above are not exhaustive

6 Psychological Effects of Abuse These may include: feeling that she depends on the abuser focussing all the time on how to avoid problems and not to upset the abuser feeling she s got to make efforts to gain the abuser s praise becoming weak and losing the ability to think clearly thinking it s all her fault losing self-confidence having low self-esteem seeing herself as powerless feeling anxious / depressed blaming herself for the abuse Losses People who are abused know that when they leave a relationship they may experience material, personal, and emotional losses such as: their home their job their income their possessions their sense of safety and identity their friends / family / older children who live independently their pets Some of these losses do not necessarily happen when the person leaves an abusive relationship but instead they may happen little by little while the person is still in the relationship. I believed that it was my fault that I was unhappy because I wasn t a good enough wife I didn t do things right, didn t show him I loved him enough.

7 Fear Fear is the main reason that may stop a person from leaving an abusive relationship. The majority of women who are abused may fear that they or their children will be killed if they leave; and as a matter of fact the victim is at a higher risk after they have left the abuser. Many people may stay in abusive relationships because of this or sometimes they may even think of leaving for several years before they are able to do so. Fear is key to keeping an abusive relationship going and some of the abuser s behaviour is aimed at keeping the feelings of fear going. Abused women often talk about how they feel they are walking on egg shells when the abuser is around. For example, physical abuse or verbal abuse don t need to happen all the time; just one episode of abuse and the possibility of it happening again may be enough to produce a lasting sense of fear. Because fear plays such an important part in keeping abusive relationships going, some researchers talk about domestic abuse as a form of intimate terrorism or coercive (forced) control. It is important to remember that while these feelings of fear are experienced by the abused they may also have love feelings for the abuser and they may think that eventually the abuser will change. Other Reasons why People may Stay in Abusive Relationships The abuser may not let her go Feeling that there s no way out To avoid further disruption in her children s lives Denial of the impact the abuse is having on her and her children Perceived stigma It is important to remember that, in spite of all these barriers, with the support of local and national specialist organisations abused people continue leaving or are in the process of leaving abusive relationships.

8 Useful Contacts Police (please ask for Domestic Abuse Unit) 101 Dumfriesshire and Stewartry Women s Aid or (24hr) Wigtownshire Women s Aid (24hr) South West Rape Crisis and Sexual Abuse Centre or (9am to 9pm) National Domestic Abuse Helpline (24hr) More information on: In an emergency, phone 999 With thanks to the survivors of domestic abuse who provided the quotes for this booklet. November 2014

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