It is estimated that 1 in 3 women in UK will face domestic abuse within their lifetimes. In London for one reason or another, this is even higher (you can find more specific statistics on Women’s Aid website).
What is domestic abuse?
Many victims of physical violence have said that physical trauma was the easier part of their experience. Those feelings of fear, powerlessness and the way that this other person led them to question themselves was more damaging to their sense of wellbeing.
Domestic violence is a relationship which leaves you exhausted no matter how hard you try to create an improvement.
It is about power and control.
An abusive relationship has one person who feels entitled to control the lives of both.
The myths you will hear all around you
It can’t be that bad.
Why does she stay?
Aren’t you giving up too quickly?
Did I ever hit you? I don’t hit you, so it’s not abuse.
It’s just a family argument!
Not one of these arguments is valid if your relationship is an abusive one.
Functional family arguments can also involve a ton of feelings but they should not leave your exhausted for days or months, they should not leave you feeling entirely powerless. Feeling that you do not have any control over your life.
If you ever feel fear. If you ever feel threatened. If there is an aspect of maintaining power and control over you. Then that makes it an abusive relationship which is not ok.
Take a sheet of paper.
Draw a circle, the area inside the circle is the decision making space within this relationship. The more a person occupies the more weight and decision-making power they have.
Without thinking too much, quickly divide this circle to show how much decision-making authority you have within this relationship.
Sit back and review your page.
Note on tradition: it may be the 21st century, but our societies are saturated in tradition – sometimes more than we realise. Too often people behave like the person they ‘want to be’ when they are dating and default to being ‘a product of their childhood’ once you are family.
There is a lot of nuance in this, the question to ask is… are you happy with your amount of decision making power? If you passionately don’t agree with something will your opinion be heard and respected? In the most traditional of cultures, one could conceive that although men made a show of making all the decisions, women would have had the veto power behind closed doors.
Why does it happen?
This is an age-old question. I think it has a lot in common with the ‘meaning of life’ – even if the details of our stories may be similar both you and I will need to find our own separate answers.
Having said that, perhaps you would like to hear what feels like my answer at the moment…
Aren’t we all a little narcissistic?
For ease of syntax, I will refer to the narcissist in this example as ‘he’.
A person with narcissistic tendencies loves others only when it suits him, it is someone who takes care of others when it makes him feel better about himself. When it does not, the affection, attention and empathy are withdrawn as quickly as they were given
. This person is so protective of his perfect self, he cannot identify his own emotions. When asked about his emotions he is likely to revert to talking about others in relation to himself rather than naming his own emotions.
Some research has found abnormalities in brains of narcists. These abnormalities are considered to affect empathy while similar abnormalities affect guilt and social rules in the brains of psychopaths. Interesting right?
Most of this comes from a book I just started reading by Shahida Arabi:
Narcissistic partners employ numerous stealthy tactics to devalue and manipulate their victims behind closed doors. These partners lack empathy and demonstrate an incredible sense of entitlement and sense of superiority which drives their exploitative behavior in interpersonal relationships.
Their tactics can include verbal abuse and emotional invalidation, stonewalling, projection, taking control of every aspect of the victim’s life, gaslighting and triangulation.
Due to the narcissistic partner’s “false self,” the charismatic mask he or she projects to society, the victim often feels isolated in this type of abuse and is unlikely to have his or her experiences validated by friends, family and society.
–‘Becoming the Narcissist’s Nightmare: How to Devalue and Discard the Narcissist While Supplying Yourself’ by Shahida Arabi
How do I find the time to read?
…I listen to audiobooks and I cannot recommend it enough.
- Shahida Arabi
- SCW Archer Publishing
- Kindle Edition
Becoming the Narcissist’s Nightmare has phenomenal reviews across the web, many express something like this:
‘I have read many books on this topic over the past decade, and still,
this book has been of great help – I just wish I read it sooner!’
You can read more about the guest Dr James Wellborn who is a clinical psychologist, here.
Which part of you feels and which makes decisions?
Something seemed to click when I heard Michelle speak about her own discovery about bringing her leaning into her body via the analogy of chairs. As I understood it, she talks about our feelings coming from our child-self, decisions from adolescent-self and then the adult chair being a place of peaceful presence rooted in awareness.
I was introduced to her when Bruce Langford interviewed her on his podcast ‘Mindfulness Mode’
I am planning to keep listening to Michelle’s podcast ‘The Adult Chair’ and will report on progress.
I would be honoured if you were to share anything of your thoughts on anything covered in this article…
What is your definition of domestic abuse?
(there is an option to leave your comments in anonymity below, feel free to use the generic name ‘Stretchy Mummy’)