Domestic Abuse During the Holidays
As we embrace the holiday season, it is essential to recognise that this time of the year can be particularly challenging for some individuals. While many of us eagerly anticipate celebrations, gatherings, and joyous moments, it is important to remember domestic abuse often intensifies during the holidays.
Breaking the Cycle of Victim Blaming
In discussing domestic abuse, we must confront a prevalent culture of victim-blaming, which often puts the responsibility on the survivor. Phrases like "You need to leave," "Why are you with this person," or "You need to safeguard your children" can inadvertently reinforce this harmful culture.
To foster a supportive environment, let's shift our language. Instead of asking survivors why they remain, let's inquire, "Why would they do that to you?", "Why would they hurt you?", "What can we do to support you?" and "What do you need from us?" By reframing the conversation, we can empower survivors to speak up and seek help without judgment.
Approaching Injuries with Sensitivity
One critical aspect of addressing domestic abuse is how we approach physical injuries.
Let's consider a scenario: You've noticed Debbie from college has a bruised eye.
Instead of asking, "What have you done to yourself, Debbie?" approach her when she is alone and say, "Debbie, I can see you have a bruised eye, what happened?"
This empathetic approach allows survivors to share their experiences at their own pace and without feeling blamed or interrogated. It is about creating a safe space where they can open up when they are ready, knowing they have your support.
Unmasking the Hidden Suffering
One of the complexities of domestic abuse is how perpetrators can manipulate the way they present survivors. Consider John’s situation: his perpetrator has been deliberately preventing him from showering and changing his clothes. As a result, he is starting to smell, which becomes painfully evident during his job seeker's appointment. Nobody wants to sit near him, and the staff at the appointment can hardly wait for it to end just to escape the discomfort of the smell. The perpetrator has constructed a false image of John as a poorly presented, unhygienic person, influencing how people treat him and what they think of him.
In scenarios like John’s, it is vital to look beyond these surface presentations and remember that anyone you encounter could be a survivor of domestic abuse. Their presentation may be part of the ongoing abuse they are experiencing. By approaching these situations with empathy and understanding, we can better support survivors and help break the cycle of abuse.
Resources for Support
For those seeking support or looking to help someone affected by domestic abuse, there are valuable resources available. Websites like nottswa.org provide support for women, children, and young people. For male survivors, equation.org.uk offers assistance. It's crucial to remember that domestic abuse knows no gender or age boundaries, and these organizations can provide guidance and help survivors and their loved ones find a path towards safety and healing. For a list of local services, please click here.
Join Me in the New Year
My next blog post in January will focus on healthy meals and budgeting. May I wish all residents a safe, healthy and happy new year.
Councillor Lynne Schuller, Health and Wellbeing Portfolio Holder
Reviewed by Christie Conroy, DAHA Accreditation Coordinator, Nottinghamshire
Last Updated on Wednesday, January 10, 2024