Domestic Violence: how to recognize and protect themselves?
Any type of violence involves the superiority of one entity over another. When a person feels a freedom to be violent, he is actually under the perverse delusion that, somehow, he is better than you. When we talk about domestic violence, we often consider only examples of the physical types of violence. This is when someone beats someone else (usually men displaying physical violence to women). In fact, there are an additional three separate types of violence. Many people are unaware of this fact. We have emotional violence, economic violence and sexual violence. Let”s consider, in detail, all three types and let”s start with economic violence.
ECONOMIC VIOLENCE IN THE FAMILY
Let us assume a situation: You get married, have a baby and suddenly you are approached by your husband who asks: “Honey, when are you going to go to work?” You know that you are better at home, taking care of your growing children and giving attention to the house. Anyways, how much money will you earn in exchange for attending to your real life duties? Staying home is actually a very noble gesture.
Even though this is an undeniable truth, what usually begins next? You work, essentially, on an equal footing, with him in the office. At home, you bear much of the commitments — cleaning, cooking, gardening, shopping and homework. In general, your daily routine is much like his, with responsibilities and duties. Still, it is he who is actually earning the money. You are not. You definitely use the money earned, but you use the money that is given to you by your husband. This, in and of itself, is not a sign of economic violence. It is simply the task conditions. Here are some tell-tale signs of economic violence in the family:
If you are constantly reproached about the irrational use of family money.
If you are unable to plan your own spending.
If you are not given the freedom to still get a job or to go to school.
If all large purchases (real estate, cars, etc.) are an issue to your spouse.
If you see yourself in these examples, you can be sure that you are exposed to economic violence.
Returning to our problem, let us take it a step further. You are still in the home while your husband works. You continue to work for the benefit of the house. Suddenly, something happens with your husband. Perhaps, he has an affair and leaves or becomes seriously ill or dies. In other words, you fall into circumstances where he can no longer provide for you. What happens next? You have spent many years arranging the house, taking care of your children and cooking for your family. You did not further your career opportunities or make money. Even if you were working, you passed on seniority opportunities to take care of your family at home. To be honest, you are not the best candidate for employers. If you do return to work, you may have to start at the very beginning.
My friend got married young. She was 20-years-old and married a neighbour of hers. They both grew up in an area that was not really safe and Peter wanted to escape from there. They began to work on it, with him as assistant manager. Soon, their eldest daughter was born after a difficult pregnancy. She was a beautiful girl. With such a difficult delivery, it was unavoidable that she would begin to work less and devote more time to family life. The husband would have to work more. In time, there came a great opportunity to sell the old apartment and her husband”s employer provided a certain amount of needed money. As a result, they moved to a bigger apartment in a good area of St. Petersburg.
After about 10 years, there was another difficult delivery. The child was born with hydrocephalus. There would now be rehabilitation for the second child and continued obligations to the eldest daughter and her needs. This became her way of life. The husband, at this time, continued to go to work and also began to work for himself. All this time, he did not deny her any money. Still, she did not have any idea about how much he earned.
In the end, they sold the apartment and bought two apartments side-by-side in a luxury house; demolishing the wall and creating a huge apartment in a posh place. Twenty-five years passed. Suddenly, during a family quarrel, he starts to beat her. All of this takes place in front of the children. I did not know about it for a long time. It was three months later that she told me. I carefully asked: “Why do you not leave?” She said, “Well, where will I go, alone with two children? All that is earned is earned by him. I have nothing”. He still continued to allocate large sums of money to her life, but would not tell her how much he actually earned. Soon, they bought an apartment for their eldest daughter. Very rarely, when he drank and she (in his view) took a dispute beyond permissible limits, he would say to her: “Have you forgotten how it ended last time? Be careful, dear”. The woman, for the sake of the family, forgives and forgets in an effort to not put herself at risk, physically or economically.
EMOTIONAL VIOLENCE IN THE FAMILY
The most important sign of emotional abuse is the restriction of your freedom. You are a human being and you cannot belong to anyone. You are an adult and you have a right to make your own decisions and to take responsibility for them. No one has a right to your freedom. When a man does not believe this, he often tries to control your life and to create his own rules for you. Methods of influence can be very different from persuasion and may include things like intimidation or direct threats. There may not be physical violence, but the threat may be enough to make you afraid to object.
Signs of emotional abuse in the family include:
You are constantly criticised, demeaned and devalued.
You are blackmailed directly or indirectly.
He follows you or limits your movements.
You are threatened.
The worst thing is that it cannot be reported to the police. You cannot call them to protect yourself or your friend. The police will not respond if there is no physical contact. You (the victim) may even assume a sense of guilt over what is happening and how it is affecting your relationships with family and friends. Most likely, you will soon take the point of view of a rape victim, finding fault in yourself to justify the abuse. Breaking out of emotional abuse is much more difficult than any other type of abuse because you think that you are choosing to be in the relationship that you are in.
Here is my story. Somewhere around the age of 22, I met a man. After two weeks, I realised that I did not want to continue in a relationship with him and I told him as much. Still, I ended up living with him for six months. How did this happen? Why did I waste these months of my life with a man who I did not like? The fact is he was able to convince me that I did not understand how my life was moving in the wrong direction. He kept on me constantly; to the point where I could not leave the house until I made up my mind to his satisfaction. I should start a relationship with him was the idea that I had to accept! After over half-an-hour of persuasion, I gave up. Suddenly, his arguments seemed convincing and he no longer seemed so unpleasant. I “gave us a chance”.
For all of these six months, I lived in hell. I was constantly criticised and humiliated. I told my friends that I was terrible. Sometimes, I was not allowed out of the house. I finally found the strength to break free and moved to another apartment. Then, he began to chase me. He eventually calmed down when two of my good friends dropped him down the stairs.
Important: Abusers will never just let go of their victims. They will fight for power until the end.
SEXUAL VIOLENCE IN THE FAMILY
This is a difficult topic. Somehow, it is believed that the sacred duty of a woman is to sexually serve her husband and, if he does not want conventional sex, a woman must commit and consent without question. In fact, all this is nothing but blatant violence.
Recently, we were enjoying sitting in a bar as independent, confident women and just picked up on this theme. Almost all of the women saw nothing wrong with refusing to have sexual relations with a husband. In fact, a woman cannot be seen as a sex object. There are two options: If she wants to have sex, she will engage in it at her will. If she does not want sex, she should not have to deal with pressure or coercion.
Everything else is violence. I recently read an article about victim behavior (sacrificial behavior). The article deals with the belief that victim behavior is a myth and, in fact, normal human behavior, when threatened by violence, is to try to survive the violence with minimal harm to oneself. If the “rapist” finishes the process quickly when he believes that the woman enjoys it, it is quite normal that a woman would begin to mimic the fun in order to quickly bring things to an end. That is, the survival instinct is triggered. She understands that a man has a physical advantage. The greater the resistance, the more likely she is to receive physical injuries. The correct behavior is to reduce risks to a maximum. Therefore, women often give up and give in. This reduces the risk of things leading to a hypothetical situation of violence. Here, it is necessary to seriously consider:
Do you believe that regular sex is your choice? Do you believe that it is wrong to have to respond to the pressure of a man to have sex? Do you believe that each partner should make an invitation to lovemaking in response to a shared excitement?
Recognising sexual violence is very simple, actually. If you once said “no” or, in some other way, made it clear that you did not want to have sex, but (for some reason ) sexual relations took place, then violence occurred.
As you can see, things are not so simple when it comes to domestic violence. Recognising it and adequately reacting to it is very difficult. Violence in the family is much broader than I could fit in this article, but I tried to cover the main features and common misconceptions. An important question is: “What do you do if you recognise that you are married to a wife abuser and want to change the situation?” My advice: Do not do anything on your own. If no one close to you is going to help, please contact a crisis centre for women, which exist all over the world.