I heard the expression, Intimate Terrorism, a few months ago. An interesting one isn’t it? When I first started my career in domestic abuse, I attended a training course called ‘Domestic Violence – Awareness & Practise’. This was way back in 1998 when we didn’t use the word ‘abuse’.
There were a couple of exercises on that day that has stuck with me throughout. One of them was this…
We were asked to call out to the trainer ways in which we thought prisoners of the Second World War, were treated. How they were tortured, both physically and mentally. The trainer wrote them on a flipchart. There were many examples. The examples, we all agreed were shocking and we all felt a sense of horror that prisoners of war could be treated in this way. She then moved on to the next part of the training. After lunch, she then asked us to call out ways in which perpetrators of domestic violence/abuse treated their partners. She wrote them all on a flipchart. Again, there were many examples. She then got out the piece of flipchart she had used when we had done the prisoner of war exercise in the morning. She stuck it on a wall, next to the exercise we had just completed on domestic violence/abuse.
You know what I am going to say, don’t you?
They were identical! She then posed the question. Why are people so shocked and horrified at the treatment of prisoners of war, yet don’t feel the same way about the violence and abuse that people experience from a person who is known to them and who claims to love them!??
Let’s break the expression down.
If we google the words Intimate and Terrorism, this is what we commonly see written…
Intimate = Closely acquainted; familiar. Private and personal. Of a very personal and private nature.
Terrorism = The unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians. The calculated use of violence creates a general climate of fear. To bring about a particular political objective.
Do you see the connection? If you subscribe to my blog, it means you have an interest in this issue, so you probably can see the connection, but how many people do you think actually think about this? I mean, really think about this.
The types of torture, violence, abuse, brainwashing, and intimidation used in the act of terrorism are the very same tactics used by abusive people towards their partners. Do you think if people realised this, they may understand the dynamics and complexities of domestic violence and abuse better?!
Perhaps, in 2023, we could make more of an effort to educate others and raise awareness. Getting people to really understand is something we can all do.
Head Of Partnerships & Development Of Domestic Abuse Services