Spot the red flags in domestic violence
To honour National Domestic Violence Awareness Month I’d like to highlight the red flags I observed in my own relationships. I’ve previously written about domestic violence; what it is, the myths, the statistics, and what you can do about it.
This time, I want to highlight the red flags so that you recognise what to look out for. Knowing the signs might help you take the necessary action to keep you and your children safe. Understanding that it is domestic violence, and that it won’t stop on its own might help you get to safety — before it kills you.
Looking out for others
If you know someone else who’s experiencing domestic violence, share this post and other online information with them. You might just save their life. At the very least, you’ll be showing them that you care and that you’re there to support them in whatever way you can.
NO More‘s great slogan for 2020: Together, we can help our friends, neighbours, and communities by #Listeningfromhome.
They continue “………….. Even as lockdown restrictions are lifted, the abuse will not simply end. It remains a critical time for survivors, and greater awareness, education, and bystander intervention are desperately needed. We need to help those who are experiencing violence during this unprecedented time.”
Red flags to watch out for
While domestic violence is perpetrated by both male and females, for brevity and ease, I’ll use he/him throughout. These are some red flags to look out for — an abuser might exhibit some of these signs at any point in your relationship (or someone else’s):
- Discouraging you from spending time away from him, say with your family or friends. This is a form of control, possibly designed to stop you from telling or showing (bruises) others what’s been happening.
- Being jealous of your friends or time you spend away from him. You’re his possession now, you belong to him. If you loved him you wouldn’t want to spend time away from him. “Huh, right. And he just wants to be your friend? No way. He just wants to get into your knickers.” So you seriously aren’t allowed male best friends?
“I hope everybody understands why someone is jealous of something. It is because jealous people feel threatened that someone might take away what belongs to them.”Anon
- Telling you what to wear or not. You can’t wear short skirts or makeup because it makes you look slutty or you’re putting yourself out there. He might tell you you’re showing too much cleavage or you shouldn’t be wearing tight t-shirts. He’ll make you feel uncomfortable in chosen outfits such as pointing out (what he knows you see as) your worst bits. “Hahaha, nice muffin top, have you looked in the mirror?”
- Making you feel guilty for any problems in your relationship. I mean it’s your fault that he gets angry all the time, right? You shouldn’t have made him angry, or you shouldn’t have laughed at him in front of your family. You deliberately make him jealous by flirting with anything in trousers.
- Being charming and witty one minute and intimidating or threatening the next. He’s always sweet and playful in front of everyone, but the minute you’re on your own, he turns nasty and spiteful towards you. He’ll be nice to your friends but afterwards he’ll bitch about them to you and put them down, trying to get you to feel the same way.
- Threatening violence against you, or someone you love, to ensure you comply with his wants, wishes and needs; so do as you’re told. If you threaten to leave him, he might tell you he’ll scar you so no one else wants you, or that he’ll take the children from you. He’ll say he’s going to kill you ‘cos if he can’t have you, no one else will.
“Each time a woman stands up for herself without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women.”Maya Angelou
- Belittling you such as telling you you’re a terrible wife, you don’t keep the house clean, and your too lazy and lardy-arsed to cook a proper dinner. Oh, and you’re a crap mother too. He might even tell you how ugly and fat you are, and how much better looking and slim that fit bird down the road is. And she’s had three kids!
- Embarrassing or shaming you, making snide remarks when in the company of others. This can be quite subtle or just plain out there. If someone compliments your outfit he’ll tell them how you struggled to get your fat arse into it or about the big pants you’re wearing. He’ll throw things back in your face, like any sensitive secrets you’ve told him about your past. It could be after telling him your mum had been mentally unwell some years back. He’ll delight in throwing “you’re a nutter, just like your mother” back at you.
- Pressuring you to have sex, even if you don’t want to. This can be just tutting or sighing when you say you’re tired. He might become verbally abusive like “what, again, ffs!” or “you’re effin’ frigid you are.” and “if you’re not giving it to me, you must be giving it to someone else.” so you give in. Otherwise he’ll make your life (more) miserable. Or he might become physical like grabbing or pawing at your intimate areas and making lewd comments. Worse still, he might force you into sexual acts that you’re not willing to engage in.
- Intimidating you physically, possibly with weapons. Pulling your hair, grabbing you or raising his fists to you should be warning enough Then there’s punching and kicking walls, doors or windows. Throwing things around or at you, particularly food or hot liquids is a definite no-no. I had an Indian take away thrown at me, it missed and hit the wall, making an almighty mess. But that was my fault cos I shouldn’t have moved (out of the way)? He might point a knife or other sharp object in your direction or even at your face or neck. It’s possible he might strangle you.
“It is not the bruises on the body that hurt. It is the wounds of the heart and the scars on the mind.”Aisha Mirza
- Taking charge of you money, controlling banks accounts so you have little or no access. He earns the money, pays the bills, puts food on the table, and clothes on your back! Another form of control, letting you know who’s the boss and keeping you right where you are. You’ve got no money to go anywhere and you can’t leave him, can you?
- Stopping you from working; perhaps he doesn’t want you to have access to your own money. He might be scared that you’re financially independent and that you can afford to leave him. Or if you do work, being jealous of your colleagues and watching what time you get home, asking where you’ve been, and who with.
- Intentionally damaging your property; jewellery, clothes or your car i.e. letting your tyres down just as you’re about to go out with friends. Perhaps he’ll cut or rip up your clothes, “you want to wear low cut tops? Wear that,” after he took the scissors to the vests I wore under my suits for work.
Do you always feel like you’re walking on eggshells for fear of upsetting your partner? Do you think it’s you who always gets things wrong, it’s all your fault? “If I didn’t do this, he wouldn’t get angry” or “if I didn’t smile at the party last night, he wouldn’t have been so jealous”?
“If you’re on the receiving end of any of the above, perhaps it’s time for you to get professional help, or get out?”Me
Over to you
What’s your thoughts on domestic violence and red flags? Can you think of any more? Would you intervene if you witnessed domestic violence? What would you do if a friend was experiencing domestic violence. Would you feel equipped to support them? I’d love to know what you think and I’m happy to answer any questions.