As October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and the month opened on the blog with my review of Isolation Junction by Jennifer Gilmour (you can read my review HERE), I thought it fitting to end the month on a guest post by Jennifer.
Domestic abuse was an issue I dealt with on a day-to-day basis in my last job and I don’t think there is enough understanding on how difficult it is to leave an abusive relationship. The risks to women (I’m not sure if it is the same for men) increase once they leave the relationship and with the cuts to services it is often hard to find support. The onus is often on the victim to leave rather than the perpertrator. Domestic abuse is never a black and white issue. I will hand over to Jennifer to talk more about this…
The Hidden Side of Domestic Abuse
Born in the North East, I am a young, married mum with three children. I am an entrepreneur, running a family business from my home-base and I have a large readership of other young mums in business for my blog posts.
From an early age I have had a passion for writing and have been gathering ideas and plot lines from my teenage years. A passionate advocate for women in abusive relationships, I have amalgamated and fictionalised other survivors experiences alongside my own to write my first novel detailing the journey of a young woman from the despair of an emotionally abusive and unhappy marriage to develop the confidence to challenge and change her life and to love again. I hope that in reading my debut novel, I will raise awareness of this often hidden and unseen behaviour and empower women in abusive relationships to seek help for themselves and find the confidence to change their lives.
I thought I would take the opportunity to talk a bit more about the aspects of coercive control which is almost the hidden side of domestic abuse. To give you an idea of what coercive control can include here are a few aspects: un-reasonable and non-negotiable demands, threats, negative consequences, intimidation, stalking and surveillance, cruelty, restriction of daily activities, isolating from family and friends, financial control and exploytation, extreme jealousy, possessiveness, ridiculous accusations of cheating, punishment for breaking rules, being treat or the children treat as an object, ignoring needs opinions and feelings. All aspects of power and control and if you haven’t seen the deluth model then this is will certainly open your eyes even further- http://www.theduluthmodel.org/index.htm
I remember one aspect of my own personal experience of abuse which completely changed me as a person and that was the sleep deprivation. My abuser used to wake me up at different times of the night or not allow me to go to bed when I
wanted. It sounds like this wouldn’t be a big deal right? But in actual affect if you apply this to months and years then I became seriously unwell and it was perfect for my abuser because I was often not thinking right and confused- great for making mistakes, wrong choices and not seeing what was really going on. It meant also that everything was high emotions and even if it was forced into this it meant that it felt like the end of the world on any snappy response or argument fuelled with unfair remarks and demands.
Believe it or not now after this I see the importance of sleep and other healthy aspects like being hydrated. I can now see why I felt so ill and having the emotional prison sentence on top there was no wonder it was high pressured all the time, walking on eggshells. It leads me on to say that because of this I truly appreciate life, I appreciate that I can have sleep, I appreciate that I am allowed a voice, ad identity and to be happy. However it does leave scars and even though I have my sanctuary now… there are times I need to reminded to not ask permission, to not feel unconfident, to not question my judgements and choices on every day tasks.
My novel was important to write because I found that after the relationship finally ended people didn’t understand me and in actual fact I felt like I was justifying myself as a person. I cannot explain how hard it was to go through that and be questioned when I was realising that I was a victim. The book focuses on the emotional abuse and that of coercive control and shows just how it takes a hold on someone… it tried to reflect the pressures and strains you are under and hence why its 100 reasons to leave and a 1000 reasons to stay.
The UK government are starting to see that this needs addressing and the new UK law for coercive control came out late 2015. The problem? Its so new that the training needs to be there and its so hard to prove…. everyone needs educating on this because when its 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men who are victims of domestic abuse it cannot be ignored. I personally felt like services let me down after I came out of my abusive relationship and in fact I am still paying for it financially and other ways now.
So how does my book help? Because its a fictional novel people are reading this book not to be educated but ultimately people are saying they have been educated from it and even looking at it further. It could help readers recognise their family and friendship circle and see who is being abused and who may need help. It can be passed to people who may not see that they are being abused.
Whether you have heard of coercive control/emotional abuse or not… this is a book you want to read. It is written by myself, a survivor, and it reflects personal experiences of my own and other women’s. Abbie has written a review and alongside this here are what others thought about my novel: ”This book I was not able to put down” “A hugely important book!” “A very gripping and interesting read” “Thank you Jennifer for highlighting this issue and hopefully inspiring women to break free from emotional abuse”
“A fictional account of an every day unacceptable issue”
A huge thank you to Jennifer for taking the time to highlight some of the issues around domestic abuse.