As a survivor who escaped my own abusive relation in November 2006 I think it’s extremely important to get this message across to the community.
You don’t have to be physically hit to be a victim of domestic abuse domestic abuse is about power and control, with a perpetrator doing all they can to gain and maintain that power and control over their partner.
When you first meet your perpetrator they don’t come with a warning sign, they are seen as caring and charming people, not only by the victim but by the community too.
Domestic abuse is any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality.
This can encompass but is not limited to the following types of abuse - psychological, physical, sexual, financial and emotional.
It concerns me how people still associate domestic abuse with violence alone, because this is where perpetrators are clever because they don’t even have to touch there partner to instil fear.
Looking back on my own personal experience the abuse started almost immediately, at the honeymoon period of the relationship when everything was new and exciting.
When he persuaded me not to go to my parents that evening, saying if you love me you won’t go, little did I realise this was the start of the abuse; he was taking me away from my support network.
Controlling behaviour is a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependant by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.
Like many others, I never saw it as abuse. I thought he wanted to spend time with me but from that moment on, I saw my family less and less and if I did go and see my mum, I always had consequences to pay.
He repeatedly told me the only way I got my job as a legal secretary was by sleeping with my boss. I was ready to go to work one morning when he locked me in the flat and threw my phone out of the 7th floor window. I was sacked on the spot.
Coercive behaviour is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish or frighten their victim.
As a community, we have to shift the stigma that is attached to domestic abuse and make it completely clear that you don’t have to be physically hurt to be a victim of domestic abuse.
Domestic abuse knows no boundaries, with many men and women not knowing they are a victim until it’s too late.
Domestic abuse is about power and control.