The hidden, silent epidemic, wounding our children, scarring families and killing partners. We see the end result on television, and picture the scene we have once viewed in a movie. The partner arrives home, after visiting the pub, his dinner is set down in front of him. “What’s this muck?” he yells, before throwing the plate at the wall. The kids are feuding in the background, after a tiff breaks out over whose turn it was on the Wii. The tension carries on into the night, wherein the police are called by the neighbours. She has a black eye. He is contrite, the children solemn. Formulaic. The picture is quite different most times. The man or woman once met a delightful human being in their love interest. They are confident without being proud, attentive without being cloying. Overtures of warmth and tokens of love are reciprocated. Nobody falls in love with an abuser. There is no sign of what is to come, as the appropriate buttons aren’t being pressed. The monster within can be contained in the early flushes of romance. Add pregnancy, uncertain employment, redundancy, illness, children and a host of other life events into the mix, and those buttons are well and truly pressed. Whilst some couples endure and flourish, some men or women revert to their inherent factory settings. Nobody is more stunned than you.

Financial abuse often occurs,consisting of sabotaging everything from holiday plans, housing, courses, and anything that you derive pleasure from or will advance you. It will all be falling into place, when whoosh, the money isn’t available. You will be given an allowance of your partners deciding. Opportunities are limited. Emotional abuse doesn’t just consist of verbal aggression, but also of deathly silence. You are never praised. Never told how loved you are. That is another sort of loneliness. Frustrated at their own lives, and never taking responsibility for everything from a fine to being sacked (they are always the victim), they take it out on their loved ones. Untapped wells of anger and immature emotional responses come to the fore. Their livers are drowning in a tumult of rage- Chinese herbalists believe this is where anger is stored. So, they take drugs, and hit the bottle, inflaming it even more. You don’t know where your partner has gone, or how it has come to this. The roots are insidious, the tendrils taking hold over time. A shove when you want to discuss a bill just arrived in the mail, an intolerance to the kids and their natural noise. A deathly glare. Suddenly, you can’t do anything right. The house isn’t clean enough, your appearance not up to standard. You keep silent about how your household has tilted at a  peculiar angle, because you don’t know how to voice what is occurring. A grumpy partner; hasn’t everyone endured that at some stage? There are no black eyes, yet.

As the boundaries are stretched, and you are drip-fed abuse every day, they become more arrogant, and angrier. People ask if everything is okay, as your husband drinks copiously, and avoids you at a friend’s BBQ. You defend him. He is hard-working, just under stress. You don’t want people’s esteem of your partner to be altered irretrievably. He is after all, the father of your kids. As you start to avoid people and feel more isolated, it reaches its crescendo. This is often years later. The police are called, and plead with you to make a statement to have him charged. You react with fear. You are defensive. You are suffering Stockholm syndrome, where you have become enmeshed with your captor. You only recall the gentle side, the human side of your spouse. To come to grips with who they have become would break you. http://counsellingresource.com/lib/therapy/self-help/stockholm/There is no turning back from that realization and you aren’t quite ready. When the spell is broken, you need all the support you can from friends and family. To start anew and rebuild a life that has been stripped back to the bare bones, takes time and care. I hope you do it. I understand why you stay, and what you fear. You fear staying and you fear going. Nothing is as bad as the place you are in. I promise.


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