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Episode 5: Signs And Symptoms Of Domestic Violence

Part Two: Forms of Abuse – Physical Abuse

Often the abuse suffered is of a violent physical nature.

  • Do you ever tell yourself that, ‘he won’t hurt me again?’
  • Do you try and convince yourself that this is the last time he will ever physically hurt you?
  • Have you ever been hit, shaken, burned with a cigarette or otherwise?
  • Have you been pinched, suffocated, kicked, punched, slapped, pushed, bitten, even poisoned?
  • Has your partner ever tried to drown you?
  • Has he driven a car recklessly until you were afraid you were going to die?
  • Has your partner smashed up your belongings in an attempt to forcibly control you?
  • Have you been physically held against your will at any time?
  • Have you had things thrown at you?
  • Have you ever ended up bruised and bleeding, because of violent assault?
  • Have you ever ended up with black eyes?
  • Have you ever ended up in hospital as a result of him physically assaulting you?
  • Do you flinch when he raises his hand or voice, or even when he walks towards or comes near you?

It does not matter if it happened only once or again and again. There is usually an absolute uproar when animals are treated cruelly. How much more should there be when one human being believes they have the right to injure, harm, violate and even kill another human being. Their reasoning… they do it just because they can, and because they feel they are not accountable to any-one! There will never be an excuse valid enough to justify this barbaric behaviour. Please come to terms with this truthful fact! This is not normal healthy behaviour!

If any of the above is happening to you or to someone you know, please speak up and get some help for yourself. You should know there are options available to you, as this is the twenty first century! The number one person who has the power to change your situation is you. If you choose to do nothing about it, then you will simply waste years of your life, going around and around in circles or worse!

A major key and step in the right direction, is recognizing that the treatment that you are being subjected to and receiving is inappropriate, unhealthy, unacceptable and a crime against your human rights. Your role in fighting against the perception therefore, that one human being has a right to ruthlessly dominate another, is an absolute crucial factor when it comes to gaining your freedom! More on this in later chapters! The good news to hold on to, is that this does not need to continue to be a hopeless situation. You can become equipped to make different choices!

In 2012 Melissa Dohme a twenty-one-year-old lady, was subjected to a case of extreme domestic violence where she was attacked by her ex-boyfriend. They had broken up three months prior to the attack, however he refused to accept that the relationship was over.

On the 21st of January 2012 he made his move, revealing his unmistakable aim. He planned to kill her, stabbing her thirty-two times in total. She suffered from stab wounds to her head, neck, face, hands and arm as she tried in vain to protect herself. She haemorrhaged severely from arteries that had been cut in her neck. She died four times and had to be resuscitated, suffered a stroke and a fractured skull, a broken nose, and lost some teeth. She needed twelve units of blood as she had lost so much of her own.

Shockingly, although she had every reason to, she refused to go into victim mode! She came to an astonishing conclusion. It was her firm belief that God saved her life for a unique purpose. That purpose is to tell others about what happened. By sharing her story, she felt compelled to become a voice. A voice for all those who are too afraid to speak. Presently she works tirelessly as their advocate. She is a perfect example of the incredible truth…. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE DOES NOT HAVE TO BE THE THING THAT DEFINES YOU! Nor does it have to be the end of your particular story!

Similarly, a twenty-year-old pregnant woman, got involved with a man she didn’t know very much about. She had no idea unfortunately, that he had a criminal past, as well as a dark history of violent assault, against two previous girlfriends.

As things did not seem quite right, one day she decided that the relationship was no longer for her, so she expressed this to him. Without hesitation he seemed to go absolutely crazy, reacting to the news by punching her in the stomach. As a result, the very next day she started to miscarry their unborn child. When she got to the hospital a scan revealed that the baby she was carrying had died. What happened although unacceptable, unfortunately is the kind of thing that happens more commonly, than is comfortable to acknowledge!

Another young lady Malorie Bantala who was thirty-two weeks pregnant, was brutally attacked by her ex-boyfriend and an accomplice in the street. They pushed her to the ground and then cowardly killed her unborn child by stamping on her stomach repeatedly. Eventually, once they had inflicted as much damage as possible, they ran off, leaving her for dead. She received emergency first aid treatment, but unfortunately, they could not save the baby, and she herself ended up in intensive care with life threatening internal bleeding. Eventually the attackers were caught and sent to prison. To add salt to the wound, Malorie found out also, that after her ordeal there is a chance that she may not be able to have any children. Presently Malorie campaigns for a change in the child destruction law, to be extended to covering unborn babies also.

On the 4th of March 2016, (on the news) just outside a church, a forty-one-year-old man violently and brutally attacked a 40-year-old heavily pregnant woman in the street. At the time it was down to two good Samaritans who were passing, to intervene and assist this helpless bleeding woman. During the incident they put themselves at risk, for the sake of this lady and ended up with minor injuries themselves. The woman was later air lifted by air ambulance to the hospital. She gave birth to a baby who was reported to be doing well. The mother on the other hand was said to be critical. Two days after the incident the abuser was arrested and charged with two counts of attempted murder. This was referred to as ‘a domestic related situation,’ by the police.

For some reason pregnancy is often a catalyst for domestic violence. In fact, it has been known to at times be the thing that actually sets it off. In other cases, although it may always have been present, it can certainly escalate to new levels during pregnancy. The abuse of power thrives at the very sight of vulnerability. The demand that the abuser puts on the relationship to always be the centre of attention, obviously goes out the window once a pregnancy takes place. These are some of the reasons for such developments.

Another lady was stabbed in the face and then had Sulphuric acid poured over her. The abuser’s intention and plan was basically, to disfigure his ex. After this horrendous attack, she ended up losing an ear, becoming partially bald, and permanently disfigured. Before this attack, there was another incident where he had locked her in his flat for hours, threatening her throughout the whole ordeal. It was his usual habit to rape her whenever he felt like it!

It was actually because of his behaviour, that she finally found the courage to leave the relationship. The acid attack was the result. His sick reasoning was that if he could not have her, then he would make sure no other man could, or even would want her!

Looking at things from a different perspective now, there is another aspect of physical abuse that is also difficult to understand. This occurs when a man is suffering from domestic violence at the hands of his female partner. As it is a presumed fact that men are generally physically stronger than women, it is incredibly difficult to fathom how this could be possible. Men who experience this, may even be ridiculed as a result. Many men feel intense shame because of the stigma attached, and so they probably would find it so difficult to tell anyone, never mind come forward. For a man, the difficulty is increased, because of the stereotyping involved. Men suffering from domestic violence is more difficult to accept, because of course it is punctuated by the question…. ‘how could a man who is obviously stronger than a woman, allow her to bully and actually injure him?’

Men who suffer from domestic violence are particularly challenged, because there are not many refuges that are geared towards them, or appropriate for them to go to. There is quite a lack of funding for such services, and hardly any leaflets with information that would help them. The media hardly ever highlight such cases. Occasionally however there are exceptions.

On the 13 th of March 2015, Ken Gregory, a male victim of domestic violence came forward to the media to share his story. He was even brave enough to show the horrendous scars on his body. The reason he did this was to encourage other men who are suffering from the same kind of physical abuse, to feel that they can also come forward.

His own unique story came to light when he was attacked by his ex-wife, who thought it was perfectly acceptable to pour a kettle of hot boiling water over his head badly scarring his back! On another occasion as he lay asleep in bed, she poured a hot cup of tea on him. She was highly creative when it came to coming up with new ways of abusing him.

Domestic violence can happen at any time at all. The prejudice that the victim can feel, whether they are male or female, can and often does affect their decision regarding whether to come forward or not.

Working at the refuge I saw things which unfortunately will stay with me, for as long as I live. I have haunting memories of having to receive many women directly from the casualty of a hospital. This was usually necessary to receive treatment for the physical injuries they had received, at the hands of their partners. It was a common and regular thing. It did not matter how long I worked there; the sight of injured, vulnerable, broken women always got to me. I would however force myself to focus on doing my job. It was up to me to provide practical and emotional help and support. That I tried to do to the absolute best of my ability in spite of the challenges of the job.

Another story of incredibly bravery. A lady was sitting in the driver’s seat of her car with her boyfriend in the passenger seat. He aggressively commanded her to hand over her phone. When she refused to do so, he punched her in the face. He then proceeded to choke her, in a determined effort to wrestle her phone away from her by extreme force, till she started bleeding! After what seemed like forever, eventually, he allowed her to drop him off to where he lived. She was so relieved to be able to then continue her journey home alone. At the time it seemed as if he had won, as he was obviously physically stronger than she was. He had masterfully succeeded at exerting his will and violating hers at the same time.

This was not treatment she suffered at the hands of a stranger by the way. Rather this was a trusted man whom she had known as a friend for many years. They had started dating a few months prior to this incident occurring.

I greatly commend this lady and take my hat off to her. Considering the seriousness of what happened to her, she could very well have curled up into a little ball never to have been heard from again. Instead however, in spite of the trauma she suffered, she decided to allow her friend (who just happened to be a photographer), to take photos of her, displaying in graphic detail the injuries she suffered. The idea was to expose the crime of domestic violence, while raising awareness about this incredibly uncomfortable subject. She felt the need to become the face and real-life example, of someone changed forever by the horror of domestic violence. It was no longer good enough, for it just to come down to one more statistic. No, it was her most sincere hope that others would find the courage to follow suit, come forward, and tell their equally disgusting story.

The photographer friend posted these photos on her Facebook photography business website, and the effect was astronomical! People everywhere began to comment, and send messages, all eager to reach out and connect. It literally went viral and no – one was as shocked or surprised as the two women involved. They never envisaged or imagined on any level, that what they had done would have such an incredible response and effect. ‘Silence hides Violence,’ therefore was the result and the campaign that was subsequently launched.

Domestic violence does not discriminate. To emphasize this point, notably we can look at a few of the high profile, well publicized cases here of the celebrities who have been victims at some time or another.

Tina Turner had major issues with her husband Ike. She suffered tremendous physical and mental abuse from him. He took drugs and was constantly unfaithful to her. His behaviour towards her was so controlling, that when he apparently ‘discovered,’ her as an artist, he changed her name from Anna Mae Bullock to Tina Turner, as she famously came to be known. He was known to violently attack her until she bled. He even broke her jaw once. There did finally come a time when she decided enough was enough and she wanted out! She escaped for the final time one night as he lay sleeping. She had no choice but to clean houses to earn money to pay her rent during those days. She soon however found the courage to go solo as an artist and began to make song hits. The rest is history.

Similarly, Boy George, (George Alan O’Dowd) shared his story during an interview, about how domestic violence plagued his childhood. He admitted to having a complicated relationship with his dad, especially as it was characterized by physically violent, disturbing, outbursts. His dad had a bad temper, which often erupted and would end up with the over-turning of the Sunday dinner, and the whole family going hungry that day. This no doubt affected him greatly.

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.”