Sefton and Liverpool Women in Business

I Am The Type and You Could Be Too!

It never ceases to amaze me, the number of people I talk to, who I tell about my past and how I was abused in so many ways by my ex husband, that stand looking at me aghast and say “You don’t seem like that kind of person”. But it is a sad fact that as a society, we have a perception of what type of woman suffers abuse at the hands of the person they are intimate with. And it is not a compassionate image we invoke either. And let’s be honest about it, until we have been touched personally, either directly or indirectly, by domestic violence, our response to women who suffer domestic violence isn’t very compassionate either is it?

Baroness Scotland recently attended the Domestic Abuse summit in Liverpool, and she referenced two sets of figures released this year. Our own government figures suggest 1 in 4 women in the U.K. are at risk of domestic violence, while a 5 year international study conducted by the World Health Organization (http://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/violence/9789241564625/en/) shows figures globally are 1 in 3 women. And their study just looks at physical and sexual violence. She then went on to ask, what would the worlds response be if a third of women were falling ill with some new disease, and some were dying terrible, painful deaths? What would the world do then?

A startling question really isn’t it? Imagine if women were suffering to the same extent as they do when subjected to daily, relentless violence in their intimate relationships. And bear in mind domestic violence can be physical, sexual, financial, emotional and psychological violence. And also consider that like so many things, domestic violence is a cycle within families, so it affects many generations. So what would the world do? I think we can all agree that it would send all its medical elite to work together and find a solution as quickly as possibly to end the suffering and prevent more women falling ill. So why does the world stand by and watch the same number of women suffer at the hands of an abuser? Why do we let generation after generation become victims? Why does the world watch silently, without intervention, and do nothing to prevent the suffering going on all around us?

And it isn’t just happening in one country, to one age group or one religion. No one culture or profession is able to avoid abuse, it doesn’t matter which God you pray to, or what education you received. Your bank balance is irrelevant, as is your height, weight, sexual preference and skin colour. And domestic violence doesn’t care how clever, competent or confident you are. In fact sometimes, it seems that the brighter you are, the more challenge there is to break you. But I know all that because I have experienced it. I have lived in the turmoil and uncertainty of abuse, I know the fear, anxiety, shame and confusion it brings with it, and I am a dab hand at hiding brusing with make up! But it still surprises me when people say that I don’t look the type.

And what is the type? From the people I have spoken to over the past few years, it is the well established stereotype of older, uneducated woman from a deprived area living with a non skilled alcoholic partner. This is a stereotype that needs blowing right out of the water. Because of this, people genuinely believe that I am not the type. I am well educated, confident and outgoing, my abuser was a in a highly professional job, I lived in a nice house in a nice area and drove a lovely car. And yet I suffered horrendously for nearly a decade, beginning in my twenties, the most relentless, soul destroying abuse, physical, financial, mental and psychological. It was designed by a very wicked human being to belittle me, to destroy my confidence and self belief and it nearly broke my spirit permanently. The professional I was married to, I now know showed many tendencies of sociopathic behaviour, his family assisted in covering it up and I suffered daily, as did my two children. So I guess I want to finish this by reminding everyone that any woman on this earth can become a victim of domestic abuse. No one is immune. I know this, because I am the type. I am most definitely the type. And I am a survivor. And just as any woman can fall victim to abuse, she can also become a survivor. But she will need help and understanding to do it. Be there for the ladies you love, and be there for yourself too.

Steph x

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