I was chatting with my pal Isabella May about her latest release “Oh What a Pavlova” which includes the female lead being beaten up by her partner. I thought you might like to listen in to our thoughts.
AILSA You look grumpy. Another “I wouldn’t stand for it” remark on your reviews?
ISABELLA Yup. I just hope this book can go towards breaking the misconception that only weak, pathetic women are the subject of domestic violence.
AILSA (laughing and spitting her coffee out) Well that’s me then! I’ve been on the receiving end of two abusive partners and I’m hardly pathetic and weak-willed. Ex Air-Force, combat-trained and always ready to stick up for myself (and anyone weaker than me) in everyday life… so how come I became a “victim”?
ISABELLA Don’t know, my friend – why don’t you tell me? It’s different but similar for everyone.
Well, it’s just crazy. If a stranger attacked me in the street I’d never hesitate to fight back. I was trained “defence is just that – if your life or safety is in danger”. I’d have no hesitation in hurting them if they were out to hurt me. I don’t advocate this to anyone who doesn’t know what they are doing, though!
With a partner it is totally different. They use a technique which is now called “gaslighting”
Oh and please don’t think I’m talking only about women. My own partner used to work with the charity Victim Support and he goes frantic when the subject of domestic violence forgets men. They also get abused. Fewer, yes, but they are even less likely to complain or seek help. So let’s just call the abused the “victim”.
Once the abuser has robbed the victim of their self-confidence and cut them off from all their friends, controlled small things in their life like what they wear, music they listen to or food/drink they consume, all of which is psychological abuse, then the physical abuse can start.
By this time, the victim is convinced that they are stupid, everything is their own fault and, if the abuser is really gifted, that the abuser is second only to God Almighty. Even an intelligent victim will assume that if THEY are stupid and at fault, then the other person is right. In the end the victim will accept that everything that is happening is their own fault.
After that, there is no point in complaining, after all, it’s my own fault, isn’t it? Add to that the fact that the abuser is the victim’s chosen partner. Who wants to believe that they can make such a huge mistake? The abuser will appear to be charming, polite and well-mannered with others, they will have done the same when courting the victim. So the question becomes “I am so thick that I was THAT wrong about this person? Yes, I suppose it IS my fault.”
You see now how the vicious circle starts to strangle the victim and make entirely sure they speak to nobody, even covering up their injuries, always by saying they did it to themself! Psychologically interesting? I walked into a cupboard door and blacked my eye (inferring I am thick!) How well has this brain-washing worked???
The crunch time comes in two ways. Either someone outside the enclosed circle realises what is going on and gets the victim out or the victim suddenly finds their anger and hits back (quite literally) If they can hurt the abuser enough, this can turn tables or at least cause the abuser to run away and look for a more quiescent partner. Given long enough, the abuser ages and becomes unfit, unable physically to keep up the violence. Or the victim learns to run faster.
I repeat that fighting back is not a good idea unless one is willing to really hurt the other person quite badly. Training is vital. Only once with my first husband did I punch him back and put my whole weight behind it but he got up again…. oh dear, that was a mistake.
Speak to someone. Get help. Never ever believe that it is your fault because NOBODY has the right to lay hands on you violently. EVER!