Victims of domestic violence can come from any background, be of any gender and have any sexual orientation, but there is one thing they often have in common - a reluctance to speak out.
As surprising as it may seem to people who have never suffered at the hands of someone close to them - be it a partner, adult child or other relative - there are actually a number of reasons why victims often do not speak out straight away, with many failing to discuss their circumstances at all. Some of these reasons boil down to logistics; housing, money, children, while others demonstrate the worrying emotional impact of abuse.
They feel humiliated
It is common for victims to feel embarrassed about the situation, even blaming themselves for what they are facing. To some, admitting they are a victim makes them feel as if they have lost control. We see this a lot, particularly with male victims of domestic violence who may be less likely to come forward.
It is essential that victims realise they are in no way to blame for their circumstances, and speaking out is the bravest thing they can do.
In instances of physical abuse, victims may worry about what will happen to them (or their children) if they speak out against a violent partner. This can often stem from the fact that many victims do not know what help is available to them.
They have nowhere to go
Housing is another major factor. Many individuals have been isolated by their partner and fear they will have no support if they do speak out about their situation. Similarly, victims with children may worry about the upheaval that finding alternative housing will bring.
Unfortunately, the only option available to some victims of domestic violence is a shelter, and it is not uncommon for victims to feel some degree of shame about having to move into these facilities to escape.
They’re worried about money
Very often, abusive individuals can take control of the household finances in a bid to exert their power over their partner. For this reason, money worries are another factor that can deter individuals from leaving an abusive partner. However, help is available.
They still love their partner
Unfortunately, victims of domestic violence may have been manipulated by their abuser, and it is not uncommon for those who have been abused to feel as if they still love and care about the perpetrator. What’s more, in many instances the abuser will attempt to guilt their victim into staying by promising to change their behaviour, or by threatening to hurt themselves if they go.
Confusion over what actually counts as abuse is another reason why victims may choose to stay in this dangerous situation. According to the government definition of domestic violence, the term covers any incident of controlling, coercive, threatening behavior, violence or abuse of those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, partners of family members, regardless of gender or sexuality.
The abuse can encompass, but is not limited to, the following types:
As a solicitor, I have years of experience in dealing with the victims of domestic violence. It is devastating to see the effects that it can have on families, but it is essential that those who are suffering to know that help is available. The first step to escaping is to speak out, which may seem like the most difficult thing to do. Don’t suffer in silence.
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