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It is vital we raise awareness of abuse

Talking Point | Published:

Read today's Express & Star Talking Point from Sam Billingham

Sam Billingham

Most of us have been there right, in a new relationship where we can’t just get enough of each other, it’s so exciting and new.

You want to spend every second of the day with each other, your partner is just the best thing ever, so caring, so loving and so perfect.

You can’t believe how utterly lucky you are to be with this person and you never thought someone like them would be with someone like you.

Your new partner is so romantic, how they get a little bit jealous whenever they see someone else chatting to you and you like that because it makes you feel so special.

The way they scroll through your mobile phone, reading your messages and asking who they are from, making you feel loved because they are taking a keen interest in you.

Your partner makes you feel like the only person in the world, when they don’t want you to see your friends that night, or the next or the next and you see nothing wrong with their caring behaviour.

It is making you feel wanted, loved and cared for, so why would you even question it?

You can’t see yourself the way friends and family do but slowly and surely you are slipping away from them, piece by piece you are changing and being moulded into a completely different person, by the power of love.

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One in four women and one in six men will experience domestic abuse at some point during their lifetime and many without realising it.

Domestic abuse is about power and control, not only physical abuse like people think.

There is a thin line between care and control, which often starts at the honeymoon period of the relationship which makes it dangerous because people are not aware of the early warning signs of domestic abuse.

Coercive control happens long before any physical abuse happens, making it difficult for anyone experiencing domestic abuse, to just leave.

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As a survivor of domestic abuse, over a three-year period I suffered physical and psychological abuse, it was only when I left the relationship that I learned that I had been a victim.

I strongly believe that if I had known more about domestic abuse, I would have left the relationship sooner, rather than later.

I simply accepted and tolerated his behaviour toward me as normal, which is why I didn’t confide in anyone or speak out about what was happening to me behind closed doors.

Awareness is the most powerful thing anyone can have because being aware of what is happening to you, gives you choices before your abuser takes that ability away from you.

I think society as a whole needs educating on the complex crime of domestic abuse, professionals need regular and up-to-date training so they can clearly understand why those experiencing domestic abuse do what they do, the days of simply judging and victim blaming should be something of the past.

Awareness for all is vital.

  • Sam Billingham is a campaigner and runs Survivors of Domestic Abuse (SODA). For more information on the support group visit www.sodahq.uk

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