Trigger Warning Violence against women.
As I write this, I’m still undecided about whether to post it, but writing it may help to clarify my thoughts. Consequently I have disabled comments.
It was with considerable distress that I reported an incidence of domestic violence to a distant police force. I wasn’t there but the phone call I received, was enough to make me act. In some respects the decision was clear cut: the person’s partner crossed the line. In some respects it wasn’t – because I hadn’t witnessed anything. It was just disclosed to me.
Moreover, we naturally shrink from interference in other families’ lives; especially that once systems are put in place it can impact on the whole family, creating turmoil, distress and confusion while the incident is processed, and while they work to a resolution and a way forward – be that through multi agency teams, the criminal justice system. Either way, once I made that call…events were out of my hands. This was paradoxically reassuring and terrifying as I had and still have no idea what kind of events would follow.
These events came as a jolt and burst my pre – Christmas haze. Myself I have been preparing for Christmas: cake, tree, lights, table centre decoration. I’ve been baking. Ordinarily, I prefer the festive season to pass quickly and quietly because I hate the bustle, commercialism, the search for the perfect ultimate festive table – that perhaps diffuse the ultimate realities of the Festive season : Hope, Light, New Birth and Love. Also, I had my own reasons this year for holding onto ideas of hope and rebirth in the making and baking.
Furthermore, as we approach the festive season that this is the season of the campaign to leave no one behind as Welsh Women’s Aid works to educate about the impact of violence against women and eradicate it. But beneath the academic discourse, and the professional clear tones of info graphs, documents, and brochures what does it mean for friends of victims of Domestic Violence?
Before you realise what’s going on, your friend could be short of money. Your friend will always defer to the wishes and preferences of their partner. They will be tied to them in ways that are perhaps puzzling to both you and them. They disappear from your life at times. It isn’t always about the cliche of walking into a door. The emotional bruises have an insidious effect. The physical bruises do not always show. Their reasons for dropping in and out of your lives, or not being around vary and can have the ring of truth. They will make excuses for their partner and pretend that their partnership or marriage is blissful. Occasionally they will fall quiet, or seem distracted. Other times it will seem as if nothing is amiss and you doubt your intuition.
So what happens when they make that final disclosure? Advice can be found here. But the open questions suggested, while supportive for the victim, are too open if you’re not as strong as you need to be to cope- they can unleash a ton of emotion and leave you feeling vulnerable too. No one wants their friends in pain – especially if you have known and loved them for years; especially if you have connections forged from childhood. However, you can urge them to talk with Welsh Women’s aid, text them a list of numbers if it is safe to do so. Repeat to them: ‘You say sh/e hit you. S/he crossed the line. It’s unacceptable. Phone Women’s Aid.”
Much as we and hear the glitter and jingle of Christmas bells, we have to realise that the domestic wrapper can blind us to the reality of our friends’ lives, but we also have to understand that they have to make the decisions.
It’s a tough call.