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    Hearts, Flowers & Abuse of Power

    Reading Time: 2 minutes

    Hearts, Flowers & Abuse of Power

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    Love Bombers just love Valentine’s Day!

    It gives them the perfect excuse to indulge in their favourite pastime of pulling you into a web of fantasy – making you believe they are your perfect partner. In this article, people who got caught up in an abusive relationship recall how it all began with over-the-top romantic gestures on their first Valentine’s Day together.

    “When the delivery van pulled up outside, I was excited that he’d sent me flowers. I had no idea the whole van was filled with them, and they were all for me.” (Sadie)

    Love Bombers like making grand gestures, designed to flatter you and make you feel like the most special person in the world. How lucky you are, to be showered with all of this attention. But it’s always a good idea to keep your feet on the ground until you get to know someone really well.

    “He sent a giant teddy bear and helium balloons to my place of work. I was a little embarrassed, to be honest, but I thought it was a sweet gesture and he was just over-enthusiastic.” (Karen)  

    Love Bombers love to wine and dine you, to make you feel like the only person on earth. This explosion of attention creates a smokescreen so it’s easy to miss red flags and ignore those subtle warning signs.

    “I decided to tell him I didn’t want to continue seeing him, but he presented me with a gold bracelet. I felt awful, but I refused the gift and told him how I felt. The very next day he began a systematic campaign of stalking, which went on for two years.” (Shaz)     

    Abusers don’t usually continue Love Bombing once they have you in their grasp, although it is sometimes used again when they’ve hurt you physically or emotionally and want to be forgiven.

    “Every time I thought about ending the relationship, it’s like she sensed it somehow. I would come home to my favourite meal and candles on the table. She would shower me with love for a few days and it totally confused me.” (Ben)

    Many of us like to make a romantic gesture now and then, to make our partners feel special and remind them how much we care. After all, Valentine’s Day is meant to be for lovers. Just remember to keep your head, keep your perspective, and be aware that some people use the day tactically to flatter and overwhelm you. With any new partner, it’s always a good idea to look for red flags in amongst the roses.

     

    Charlotte Woodward

    National Training Manager, NCDV

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    By Fiona Bawden, Times Online (8th May 2007)

    “Steve Connor, a student at City Law School, is a man on a mission. Six years ago he was a fairly directionless 27-year-old. Today, as well as taking the Bar Vocational Course, he is chairman of the National Centre for Domestic Violence, a ground-breaking organisation that he dragged into existence after a friend could not get legal help to protect her from an abusive partner.

    Connor’s route to the Bar has been circuitous. In 2001 he returned from a year in Australia (he says that he would not dignify describing it as a gap year), and took a job as a process server in South London. The job (“I just saw it advertised in the paper”) was not quite as dull as it sounds. On one occasion he was threatened with a machete, on another, he was nearly stabbed by a man he had arranged to meet on Clapham Common to serve with a non-molestation order: “He’d seemed really friendly on the phone…”

    The turning point in his life came when a friend, who was being abused by her partner, turned to him for support. Connor went with her to the police. She did not want to press criminal charges so the police suggested that she visit a solicitor to take out a civil injunction. “We must have seen 12 solicitors in a morning. We just went from one to the next to the next to the next. Everyone was very eager to help until we sat down to fill in the forms for the legal aid means test,” he says. The woman, who had a small child, did not qualify for public funding. But, Connor says, her financial situation as it appeared on paper did not bear any relation to her financial situation in reality. “She had a part-time job and she and her partner owned their home. Yet she didn’t have any money. Her boyfriend was very controlling and controlled all the money; he kept the chequebooks and didn’t let her have access to the bank account.”

    The injustice of the situation got under Connor’s skin. “I just couldn’t believe that there was no help available to people who did not qualify for public funds but could not afford to pay.

    I just kept feeling that this must be able to be sorted if only someone would address it.”That “someone” turned out to be him.

    In 2002, thanks entirely to Connor’s doggedness, the London Centre for Domestic Violence was formed. It started out with him and a friend, but is now a national organisation, covering 27 counties, and has helped approximately 10,000 victims last year to take out injunctions against their partners.

    NCDV now has nine full-time staff, 12 permanent volunteers and has trained over 5000 law and other students as McKenzie Friends to accompany unrepresented victims into court. We have also trained over 8000 police officers in civil remedies available regarding domestic violence. The National Centre for Domestic Violence (NCDV) has branches in London, Guildford and Manchester and is on track to have branches in 16 areas within the next two years.

    NCDV specialises exclusively in domestic violence work and could be characterised as a cross between McDonald’s and Claims Direct. The high degree of specialisation means that its processes are streamlined: clients can be seen quickly and the work is done speedily and cheaply. “Sometimes, we will have one of our trained McKenzie Friends at a court doing 10 applications in one day,” Connor says.

    Clients are not charged for the service. NCDV staff take an initial statement: clients who qualify for legal aid are referred to a local firm; those that don’t get free help from the centre itself. It runs on a shoestring, heavily reliant on volunteers and capping staff salaries at £18,000 a year.

    Steve expects to qualify as a barrister this summer and hopes that having a formal legal qualification will give the centre added clout. “We are already acknowledged as experts and consulted at a high level, so I thought it would be helpful if I could back that up by being able to say I’m a barrister,” he says. He is just about to complete a one-year full-time BVC course at the City Law School (formerly the Inns of Court Law School) and, all being well, should be called to the Bar in July. Although Connor sees his long-term future as a barrister, he says that he has no immediate plans to practise. “I want to get NCDV running on a fully national level. Then I may take a step back and have a career at the Bar.”