There were a total of 1,068,020 domestic abuse-related incidents and crimes recorded by the police in England and Wales in the year ending March, 2017. Of these, 54% were incidents not subsequently recorded as a crime and remained as incidents.
The law was changed in 2015 to include “coercive and controlling behaviour”.
Considering it’s prevalence and the fact a lot of domestic abuse goes unrecognised even by victims, let’s take a moment to discuss abuse tactics:
Does your partner cause such a stink about your online activity that you resort to creating fake social media accounts, not because you were told to disable them, but because you wanted to avoid the inevitable argument? This is coercion and is abuse.
Does your partner make subtle digs about your looks, your weight, your clothes, your lifestyle and your personality? Does it feel as though they are trying to mould you into someone you’re not? Hint: this isn’t love, either.
Do they ignore you because you have “displeased” them? Do they refuse to attend events knowing it would reflect badly on you, because of something you consider a tiny disagreement? Do they turn their phone off and disappear for days at a time knowing you would worry and ring every A&E in a 50 mile radius? This is stonewalling and is abuse.
Does your partner move things then pretend you moved them to cause an argument? Do they bring in the bin you know full well you put out so when the binmen fail to take it they can use it to belittle and demean you, seeing as you apparently failed to do something? Do you spend hours looking for something they need, then they “find” it somewhere you had already looked? Do they call you psycho, deranged or a liar because you asked a valid question about why they were kissing someone else? Do you doubt your own perception and reality, and second guess yourself a lot, because of your partner’s behaviour? This gaslighting and is abuse.
Does your partner give you a slap sometimes? Even if they beg for forgiveness and swear it was a one off, this is still abuse.
Do you ever feel scared of your partner? Regardless of their good qualities, there’s a chance this fears stems from the fact you are being abused.
Do they control you through money? This is abuse.
Do they hide your car keys so you can’t go out? This is abuse.
Do they try to isolate you from friends and family? This is abuse.
Do they fly off the handle because you check your phone briefly? This is abuse.
Do they tamper with your birth control? Abuse again.
Do you sometimes use sex as a weapon, to either stop a fight/argument, to get them to talk to you when you’re being stonewalled (see above), or because you don’t want the argument, stonewalling or gaslighting when you say “no” yet again? This is abuse.
Do they deflect your valid statements about their behaviour or when you find things in what they say that don’t add up, to turn it all around onto you, and why you “made them that way”? That is abuse.
I know how hard it is to leave. You feel isolated, scared, and some of you will still love your partners. You may be scared about uprooting your children. You may feel considerably tied to your abuser, depending on the nature of their abuse, but there really is help out there.
You can squirrel away money if you still have access to your own money, and keep a hidden bag for a quick escape.
You can have a code with a friend or family member, so they can call the police on your behalf if you can manage to use your phone.
You can contact women’s aid, refuge or any number of support helplines when they’re out the house.
You can contact social services if you have children, and they can help you get in touch with appropriate services.
You can contact 999 or 101, if you are safe to do so.