Following on from Seren’s sexual harassment survey released earlier this year, we thought we’d take another opportunity to raise awareness of an important issue that affects students, Domestic Abuse.
Women’s Aid, the national charity supporting women and children affected by Domestic Abuse defines it as an incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening, degrading or violent behaviour which often includes sexual violence. Domestic Abuse is mostly perpetrated by a partner or ex-partner and in the vast majority of cases it’s experienced by women but anyone of any age, race or gender can be affected. Domestic abuse can be present in all types of relationships and is not limited to couples who are married, living together or that have been together for any substantial amount of time.
Live Fear Free, the Welsh Government funded website raises awareness of all forms of relationship abuse through regular campaigning and with the help of the University’s Student Equality and Diversity Officer, Helen Munro, we’ve put together this short list of some of types of behaviours that Live Fear Free says you might find in relationship abuse.
Many forms of Domestic Abuse include controlling behaviour which is designed to make a person dependent on the abuser. It could be controlling their finances, what they wear, who they’re friends with and what they’re able to do and when. Sometimes an abuser might give direct orders like “Get my dinner on the table now” but in other cases, the control might be more subtle and include things like showing up somewhere, just to see who their partner is with and if they’re where they’re supposed to be. Incessant phone calls and texts whilst they’re apart is another way of gaining control and getting angry and starting arguments if their partner doesn’t respond straight away is quite common.
Some examples of coercive control are:
- Isolating a person from friends and family
- Monitoring a person’s time and communication with others
- Repeatedly putting a person down and telling them they’re worthless
- Depriving a person of access to support
- Making threats and intimidation
Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation where a partner will seek to sow seeds of doubt in a person, sometimes even making them question their own sanity. In Domestic Abuse, this can involve making a partner believe that they are in the wrong, paranoid or to blame for any problems that have occurred in their relationship. In 2018, Comedian Seann Walsh was caught cheating on his long term partner, Rebecca Humphries. Humphries later commented in a statement saying that she asked Walsh several times whether something was going on between him and Strictly Co-Star, Katya Jones and she says “he aggressively and repeatedly called me a psycho/nuts/mental as he had done countless times throughout our relationship when I’ve questioned his inappropriate behaviour”.
Lies and Manipulation
Abusers can often lie and manipulate. A person might be aware that the things the abuser is saying to them aren’t true, yet they will say it with conviction. As well as lying to a person, they might also lie to their friends, family or people in positions of power e.g the police. When challenged however, they can often deny everything and try to convince the person that someone else is the liar, not them.
Name Calling and Put-Downs
Abusers will often belittle or bully their victims by calling them names or putting them down when they try to do/say something. This could be as simple as calling them ‘stupid’ or ‘a loser’, but in some cases the attacks are a lot more personal, honing in on insecurities or weaknesses e.g. calling a person fat when they know they are conscious about their weight. This can occur privately or as a means of embarrassing a person in front of others. ‘Put-downs’ work in a similar way; they might tell a person that their hobby is a waste of time or they’re out of their league when they play sport. They might not necessarily think these things, they’d rather they just not participate in activities without them, where they are not able to assert control.
Whilst this list is certainly not comprehensive list, more information about the potential signs of abusive behaviour can be found at https://livefearfree.gov.wales/campaigns/think-you-know?lang=en(Live Fear Free website).
If you believe you may be experiencing domestic abuse, you can get help and guidance from Helen Munro in Student Services by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org calling 01248 388021.Helen says “it’s incredibly important that students affected by any form of sexual violence, harassment or domestic abuse are able to access specialist support when they need it. We can provide them with a safe and confidential space, free from judgement, in which to talk about it and we will support them to move forward in whatever way they feel is best for them”. Students can also ring the Live Fear Free 24/7 Helpline on 0808 80 10 800 for confidential advice and support.