I think most people would agree with me that domestic violence in any situation is absolutely appalling and wrong, and it should not be tolerated in any instance. So I was quite concerned reading that one in seven female students has suffered from violent abuse from their fellow male peers, and quite often this is a result of being in a intimate relationship with the individual. This however is not just unique to student life because domestic violence is rife across all the populace, whereby on average two women are killed a week as a result of domestic violence, and roughly around 31% of all females in the UK have experienced domestic violence since the age of 16. As a male living in a rich Western liberal country, I find this revolting. Actually, I would find this revolting anywhere on earth, and it is something that must be stamped out.
There are so many consequences to domestic violence that neither the victim or the abuser can actually perceive the true effect it is having, and it is these latent impacts which can shape a persons individuality and autonomy. From personal experience, I watched someone very close to myself suffer from domestic violence for nine straight years, whereby she has regularly ‘relapsed’ to date similar partners in desperate insecurity. This is obviously not the case of all victims, but it is easy to forget the long term effects it can have on a individual; it is not the physical bruises and black eyes that endure, it is the mental scarring that it leaves which can make domestic violence quite life defining.
So why do we (women and men) put up with being abused for sustained amounts of time? It is ever so easy for me to sit here and simply say ‘why don’t you just leave him?’ The simple answer to this is that it is not that easy. Firstly there is that paradox called love. Love causes us to have irrational beliefs – we believe that we can fundamentally change a person; that the person only acts out from their frustration and it won’t happen again, and that ‘it isn’t really in their nature’. Whenever you hear yourself justifying a abusers actions by either blaming yourself, or thinking that it is a one off event – you are probably wrong. If it wasn’t in their nature, then they would not do it in the first place.
So it is this ‘love’ for someone that can make us believe that our abuser does in fact love us, and this can consequentially causes us to tolerate their abuses. And yes, it may even be true that he does in fact love you, but no amount of love can ever justify striking your partner, or tolerating being hit by your partner. Also, abusers are usually quite manipulative in making you feel loved during the periods you are not being abused, thus creating a smokescreen for their actions. They make you believe that it is not their fault; that you angered them thus causing them to lash out; that they will never do it again.
There are also reasons for why domestic violence also happens behind closed doors, whereby neither party are keen to disclose what is really going on. The abuser wants to keep it hidden for quite obvious reasons: guilt, self-preservation, embarrassment, shame, and the knowledge that they are ultimately a coward. The victim can also keep it hidden for similar reasons: embarrassment, shame, and I hate to say it, but protection to their partner. This protection can also manifest into a twisted sense of dependency, whereby their complete and utter devotion and love to their partner makes the violence seem less serious then it truly is.
My friend who has suffered from domestic violence (and is still suffering from it) explains to me that ‘it is partly my fault – I made him angry’ and ‘he is usually extremely caring and wonderful to be around’. When asking her ‘what do you have in common with him?’, she fails to give me a answer; she struggles to literally indicate what it is she fundamentally loves about the guy, and what is the root of her love. But this is the point – love is irrational, and it does not necessarily require a justification or a clear cut definition. And it is this love which is so dangerous. It is like a heroin addiction: at first heroin is extremely warm, comforting, and makes you love yourself. After a while, we get dependent on heroin, whereby we need to consume it to make us normal. Once fully drawn in to the addiction, we lose sight of why we loved it in the first place, but yet we carry on abusing ourselves with this substance because we are so utterly dependent on it that it is near to impossible to leave because the pain of trying to leave it is unbearable.
Domestic violence is extremely similar to a addiction, because it can make the victim lose sight of themselves through the feelings of fear, loneliness, embarrassment, and even protection to their abuser: it is these factors which prevents the victim from being able to leave and move on. So I plead to everyone, if you are being abused, if you know of someone being abused, or you are a abuser, then step up and seek help. Because if you pretend to ignore the seriousness of it then it is likely to fester and to get worse. Furthermore, if it is happening in our early years as students, then this should not be shrugged off as ‘simply rowdy students’. The student culture of drinking, promiscuity, late nights and general hedonism is all good fun, but it is no excuse to act in a way which undermine someone’s self-esteem and self-worth.
It is also good to remember that as a abuser, you are damaging your own self worth and self respect, because every time you raise your hand to your partner you are ultimately carving a huge hole into your already damaged pathetic manhood. You are diminishing the self-worth of another person for your own gratification, and to be quite frank – you need help. So be a man, take the initiative to leave your partner, and go and seek anonymous help from a professional so you no longer spray this darkness to the life of others.
By Alex Jones