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Episode 4: Signs And Symptoms Of Domestic Violence

Part One: The Fear Factor

Some very crucial questions to ask yourself include:

  • Do you ever literally feel afraid for your very life?
  • Do you think to yourself, that if he ever got hold of you physically one last time…he would kill you for sure?
  • Have you ever heard of anyone or know someone that has died due to domestic violence?
  • Does this frighten you and make you consider your own situation?
  • Does he ever turn his abusive behaviour towards the kids?
  • Do you find that you allow yourself to be at risk and even beaten by him, just to protect your children?
  • Have you ever decided to leave him because you became so worried and scared for your children?
  • Have you ever decided to go to the police and press charges one minute, and then at the crucial moment drop them all the next?
  • Does he drive too fast when you are in the car, to scare you into whatever he demands of you?
  • Does he use bullying tactics, banging, smashing, and breaking things to make you jump and keep you feeling like a nervous wreck all the time?
  • Does he use an intimidating tone of voice when he speaks to you, so that you are living in a never ending, bubble of heightened fear?
  • Does he invade your personal space, getting right up in your face showing the ultimate disrespect for you as a person?
  • Does he make loud noises and sudden movements so that it is literally impossible for you to relax?
  • Does he forbid you to express an opinion of your own or break one of the rules he has set and commanded you to obey?
  • Does he constantly move the goal posts, so you feel as if you can’t do right for doing wrong, and just have to keep jumping through numerous hoops?
  • Does he regularly kick the doors and break the windows of your family home for maximum effect?
  • Does he physically restrain you so that you cannot choose to move away from him, no matter how much you want to?
  • Does he lock you in the house, so that you are a prisoner in your own home?
  • When he does allow you to go out, does he time you and then punish you for breaking his curfew?
  • Does he intimidate members of your family friends so that they are so uncomfortable when they come to visit, that they don’t come back?
  • Does he carry out his plan to destroy your support network, so that you are completely dependent on him because you have no-one else?
  • If he has raped you, have you been too afraid to report the crime to the police?

 

Fear is a major tactic used by the abuser to establish exactly who is boss. He uses control and manipulation simultaneously to go to work on his victim. Ultimately, his aim is to ensure that eventually his victim is systematically worn down over time. This could be over a short period of time like a sprint race, or over a longer time frame like a marathon instead.

As the victim is worked on, someone who was once so confident, full of life and all its promise, becomes notably dull, lifeless, jumpy, full of fear, with little or no sense of self-worth or esteem. Fear of not wanting to upset the apple cart and the abuser, becomes their new motivation and drive in life. It is unfortunately a lost cause. The abuser is never satisfied and hardly ever impressed, because he becomes the expert at the art of continually moving the goal posts. Soon the victim is jumping through every hoop imaginable, but all to no avail because she can never truly know exactly what he actually expects from her!

Often at first (when the relationship is new fresh), the abuser pursues the victim relentlessly refusing to take no for an answer, (all in the name of love of course). Soon the promises he made start to get broken, and he is no longer Mr nice guy (the one you fell in love with)! Before long you start to see disturbing signs as he becomes pushy, and continuously ignores and forces his way past the boundaries you try to set.

His controlling behaviour cannot hide forever, and his true colours are revealed soon enough. As a result, the man who could not do enough for you, becomes the man who refuses to lift a finger to help you, even when the children come along!

Sure enough, he starts to push you around in front of the kids, and the fact that you may be holding one of them in your arms at the time, makes no difference to him at all! Anything and everything sets him off, and nothing you do pleases him.

He gets upset when the kids cry. He even resorts to accusing you of loving the baby more than you love him. This is all about control, and he just loves and gets a kick out of seeing fear in your eyes!

  • Have you ever had to leave the property where you live because you are afraid of him and what he might do to you?
  • Did you then have to return to the property when he was out, to collect your belongings, clothes, valuables, kids’ toys?
  • Did you feel as if your heart was in your mouth, as you wondered whether he would return unexpectedly before you had a chance to escape?
  • Does he manage to find you even when you move out of the area?
  • Has he ever used the children to find out the information about where you have moved to?
  • Does he mess with your head by saying things like, “I will never allow you to take away my kids,” or “you know you can’t live without me!”
  • Do you spend most of your life on the run, ducking and diving?
  • Has it become necessary to spend the other half of your life looking over your shoulder, wondering if he or someone he knows, will see you and start the whole violent cycle again?
  • Do you ache and long for your life to start all over again without this unwelcome added complication?

 

It is important for you to know and accept that he will often stop at nothing to break you down. As far as he is concerned, you are his woman and therefore belong to him. The questions in his mind are and always will be, “how dare you even consider having a life without his say so, or worse without him?”

  • Does he threaten to kill you if you ever leave him?
  • Does he shout you down, and intimidate you if and whenever you try to stand up to him?

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.”