In the book, now a major film, Perks of being a wallflower, Stephen Chbosky writes “We accept the love we think we deserve.” So when the love you receive is one of neglect, shame, hurt and abuse it’s not love at all and truth be told you aren’t worthy of it even if you think you are – because that is not love at all.
Domestic violence and abuse is around every corner. The World Health Organisation expressed their concern on abuse and violent behaviour against women in their recent 2013 case study which stated that 35% of women worldwide have experienced either intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime. International studies reveal that approximately 20% of women were victims of sexual violence as children. Globally as many as 38% women murders are committed by an intimate partner. These facts are only based on women who came forward, meaning the numbers are actually increasingly higher than indicated.
The question asked is why on earth are these numbers so high? For one some women don’t know it is abuse until someone else points out or when it becomes too late. In fact there are six types of abuse women of this era can experience.
The two we are most familiar with are physical and sexual abuse. Physically abusing a partner involves hitting, strangling and reckless behaviour. They’ll prevent you from getting medical attention and get in your face, usually terrible rage outburst come out of nowhere even if you’ve made the tiniest of mistakes. Sadly this form of abuse can get so out of hand that it actually leads to murder.
Sexual abuse is when unwanted sexual gestures are forced upon you. Sometimes a partner might even make you feel guilty for it “We’re in a relationship why not now?” Pressure and dictation usually go hand in hand with sexual abuse – if you say no and your partner hears yes and acts on it, it is abuse!
Emotional abuse; your partner will most likely talk down to you, ignore you and throw insults your way. Embarrass you in public with no regard to your feelings. They sometimes have a possessive nature and get jealous over silly things. They’ll set unreasonable boundaries like wanting full access to your social sights, messages and schedule. If you feel like you have to constantly justify yourself and have no privacy, you might want to start paying attention to his behaviour towards you.
Verbal abuse – where abusive language, swearing, arguing and yelling are all directed toward you. If you partner interrupts you, talks over you and put downs, using loud and threatening language he is not respecting you as a women.
Mental abuse might be the hardest category of abuse to recognise and the most dangerous one at that. It’s usually associated with you being confused half of the time. Your partner will have a slick way of arguing, playing mind games with you and twisting everything around so nothing is their fault. According to them all of their behaviour was caused by something you did or didn’t do. They’ll lie to you, manipulate you and your feeling of sanity might disappear day by day.
Economic abuse is where he’ll be in charge of finances and then treating you like a kid when comes to spending it. They might not allow you a position of power or approve of you getting an education. Forcing you to leave your job or even forcing you to get fired. This might not always apply to a partner but the work place.
So how do you leave…?
The problem is much broader than a simple “Why don’t you just leave?”
Sometimes it’s simple and other times it might be impossible. Most women don’t even know that they are being abused! The pandemic requires widespread cultural institutional and psychological education. (The Battered Women’s Movement of the ’70s is one such organisation trying to intervene where intervention is needed)
Learn to look for signs and patterns:
The Abuse will usually be followed by guilt not for what he’s done but for fear of being caught. He’ll then try to excuse and rationalise what he’s done. This follows with a sense of normality setting in again, your abuser tries to make you stay, promising it won’t happen again and that only you can help him change.
He won’t stop
It’s extremely important that you first come to the realisation that he won’t stop. Don’t become hope’s prisoner. Abusers have an emotional and psychological problem. Change can only happen once your abuser takes responsibility for his behaviour and gets professional help.
Don’t worry about leaving
You might not have planned for any of it and fear of leaving can leave you worried about where you’ll live, what your partner will do or how you’ll get by. The most important thing to have in this situation is a support system – tell someone you can trust preferably one of your own friends and not a mutual friend you and your partner share. Emotions tend to get in the way so as though as it may seem think with your head and not your heart.
There is always a place to go.
Because abuse is such a sensitive issue for most countries there are domestic shelters one can go to. They generally have rooms for both mothers and children and they should be able to refer you to other services for abused and battered women in your community:
They might offer legal help, counselling, support groups, services for your children, employment programs, finical assistance and educational opportunities.
St Anne’s is one of many such homes:
firstname.lastname@example.org | +27 21 448 6792 | +27 21 488 8513
Dr Susan Forward wrote a book: Men Who Hate Women and the Women Who Love Them” expressing how important it is for women to know their personal Bill of rights:
- You have the right not to take responsibility for anyone else’s problems or bad behaviour.
- You have the right to get angry.
- You have the right to say no.
- You have the right to make mistakes.
- You have the right to have your own feelings, opinions, and convictions.
- You have the right to change your mind or decide on a different course of action.
- You have the right to negotiate for change.
- You have the right to ask for emotional support or help.
- You have the right to protest unfair treatment or criticism.
There are no ifs and buts when it comes to love
If you’re with someone you love you’re never supposed to live in fear. Love is selfless and does not work on a give and take basis – a gift is not a gift if it has to be returned. Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, fulfils both your wants and gives your courage, not the other way around.
Remember your worth. You can be the prettiest most kind-hearted person in the world, adored by all but if you yourself don’t believe and can’t see it there’s no point. Every second you spend doubting your worth is time wasted, you don’t have forever. You deserve someone who makes you feel worth more than you yourself give you credit for.