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Partner and Head of Family Law, Rugby
I have just been watching BBC News on BBC 1 where part of the programme was dedicated to Domestic Abuse and how calls to the National Helpline run by Refuge have increased in this period of lockdown. I think it’s a good thing for society in general to be aware of the incidence of domestic abuse in relationships, but if there are concerns that negative elements of power and control are becoming more apparent in a relationship then reading about DVA might help those who need support, seek it.
That first call seeking help can be really difficult especially as many victims of domestic abuse have learned to minimise their partner’s behaviour in order to cope with it. Helpline advisors will be non-judgemental and empathetic, they will validate caller’s concerns and help them take the next steps so that they can protect themselves. Agencies these days have developed a much better understanding of DVA, the complexities of behaviour pertaining to power and control issues and how best to help those who have fallen victim to abuse of some description.
If a person has some difficulty in recognising they are in an unhealthy relationship sometimes it can help if they think about changes in themselves since being with their partner, rather than just considering the partner’s behaviour towards them. In my work as a consultant counsellor with Brethertons I have been fortunate to have witnessed quite a few clients extricate themselves, with the help of the team, from abusive relationships. In helping them work towards recovery, many of them have said, ‘I am beginning to feel like me again’. This can only mean that they have lost part or all of their former selves whilst remaining with a violent and/or controlling partner.
Some of the indicators of the effects of abuse can be; loss of self-confidence and self-worth, not feeling you have a voice in the relationship, not being allowed an opinion, not going out or maintaining contact with family and friends, feeling you have to justify a partner’s behaviour, feeling increased anxiety and seeking partner’s approval and feeling you are walking on egg shells. All these things can happen over time and sometimes go unnoticed for long periods, but they are indicative that a relationship is not healthy.
Lockdown isn’t the cause of domestic violence, but it does offer the ideal circumstances for it to flourish.
If you have any concerns about any kind of abuse in your relationship please contact the National Domestic Abuse Helpline: 080820000247 or nationaldahelpline.org.uk