Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Speak Up, Save a Life

domestic violence, women

It happens to one in four of us, and one incident of it is reported to the police every minute.
Scarier still, it will kill two women each and every single week.
Shocking, isn’t it? Shocking and heartbreaking. When I read those statistics, I started crying and couldn’t stop.
How many women’s lives are destroyed by domestic violence every day? How many of them are too scared to speak up, to reach out? How many of them are too scared to leave their partner, even though they have children to care for?
Before I researched this post, I had no idea just how many people domestic violence affects. Yet, right now, I bet that you know someone who has had their life torn apart by it.
In fact, I can promise you because I have.
But you know what the most upsetting thing is? It doesn’t have to happen. It doesn’t have to be like this – you don’t have to accept it, and you don’t have to stay quiet.
Anyway, this post hasn't come out of nowhere. I'm writing it from the bottom of my heart after the wonderful Katy Boo brought a certain campaign to our attention yesterday. You may have already seen it on Twitter or in other blogs, or perhaps in the press. If you have, then I’m pleased – it means people are sitting up and listening.
Red Magazine are currently running a campaign called ‘Speak Up, Save A Life’ with the charity Refuge. Together, they are campaigning for a reform which will hopefully save the lives of thousands and thousands of women.

They want every single police force to change the way they work with victims of domestic violence. If this reform goes through, the police will become obliged to work with a domestic violence advocate in each case like this. With their help, they will protect those who are at risk of physical abuse, or even death, at the hands of their partner.

I cannot emphasise this enough, readers - please, please sign this petition. It won’t take you long (less than it takes you to have a coffee break!) and it has the power to change the lives of many, many women.

Women just like you, in fact.

This is a cause particularly close to my heart because it could have been me. I could have been one of those women.

It took me a long time, but I am now happy and confident to share my experience of Domestic Violence. If it helps just one person speak up, then it is worth it.

I thought it would never happen to me. I thought that I was stronger than that, that I was different. But I wasn’t – you never are. It could always be you.

I was first abused when I was a teenager. I thought it was my fault – I thought that I had done something wrong, that I deserved it. That sounds clichéd, right? It’s what everyone who has suffered says, but I guess clichés are true for a reason.

The first time it happened, it came out of nowhere. As far as I was concerned, our relationship was perfect – I was in love, and I adored being in that happy, blissful bubble. It popped, big time.

I had confronted my boyfriend over a girl he was chatting to online. He was talking to her at 3am every single night, and I'd had enough. I knew I’d done something wrong as soon as the words slipped out, but I couldn’t go back in time. I couldn’t take it back.

His face became a mask, his eyes went black, and he strode towards me, his hands shaking. He hissed at me and called me a control freak. He grabbed my hair and pulled me across the floor. He told me I couldn’t control him, that he could talk to whoever he wanted to.

After, I remember curling up in a ball in the corner of the room. I howled – an awful, animalistic sound – and pulled at my hair, desperate to know what I’d done wrong.

I never did know what I had done. In fact, I still don’t.

As the relationship went on (I forgave him – of course I did. He was never going to do it again) I spiraled out of control and started refusing to leave my bed. I burrowed away a kettle, a toaster and dinner plates in my wardrobe so that I didn’t even have to leave the room. Walking to the corner shop was too much for me to bear. I shut myself off from everyone and everything - I stopped talking to me friends, to my family. I was too scared that they would find out.

Eventually, I reached breaking point. One night, he pinned me up against the wall, a shard of broken glass pressed against my throat. I decided enough was enough. He called my mum to tell her what he was doing to me, and it was then that I clicked – this wasn’t right, it wasn’t normal.

After that, I started sleeping with a knife underneath my mattress. I realised that that was it and that I would not take anymore.

I am so glad that I found that strength from somewhere, that I dared to overcome it. Of course, I’m now happily married to a wonderful, wonderful man who actually helped me through.

I know that this post isn’t the most cheery, nor is it the best post I have ever written. But what it is is straight from the heart. Straight from me to you, woman to woman.

So please, please take the time to sign this petition. It isn’t often that I ask something of you – but I am begging you to do this.

Sam
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I just wanted to add to this message - Some years ago I was a volunteer for Home Start and part of my training was spending a whole day learning more about the subject of domestic violence. The facts and figures were horrifying.  Did you know that domestic violence is more likely to start when the woman is pregnant? Or on average it takes 38 beatings before a woman will eventually go to the police? Shocking isn't it?

We had a very brave lady, a survivor of domestic violence, come and talk to us. It was stomach turning, chilling and something I never thought really went on to that extent.  Yes, I have had ex-boyfriends who have knocked me about, one even spat in my face and threatened to kill me. But some women are living everyday locked inside a home and are not allowed out. They are starved of contact with their families and friends. Even going to the toilet is when their abuser allows them to go. The abusers take everything away from them and confine them to a life of dread, horror and disgusting abuse. Domestic violence does not have to be physical, more often than not, it will be a mental control form of abuse. They will control everything you do in your life and you will lose your voice, your spirit, YOU. And remember, there will be children witnessing this and suffering the same, too

Please sign the petition. You will be helping more than you will ever know.

Thank you

Teresa