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behind closed doors

i just finished watching behind closed doors, a bbc3 documentary discussing the issue of Domestic violence and the stigma surrounding it. the women involved in the documentary were so inspirational and brave, i felt so much compassion towards them. the injuries sustained by these women were horrific, and it is all the more heartbreaking that these injuries were carried out by someone who was loved and trusted. if you haven't watched the documentary i would really recommend it. i actually think that the documentary should be played in secondary schools and universities to raise awareness of how desperate an issue this is.

domestic abuse is not just violence in the home, it is any abuse that takes place within a relationship, such as husband and wife, boyfriend and girlfriend, or between family members. this abuse can be physical, emotional  or sexual, and often consists of all three. the abuse is usually carried out so that the abusing partner can be in control of the relationship and exert their power over the other. women between the ages of twenty and twenty four are most at risk at becoming victims of domestic abuse, however it is something that affects people of all ages. there are so many more cases of abuse that just have not been reported, either out of fear or because the victim does not believe that the perpetrator will be charged. for most victims, they experience over two and a half years of abuse before reporting it to the police and even then the victim often has to receive professional help (such as police, counsellor, social worker etc) five times before the abuse actually comes to an end. many victims resort to suicide attempts instead. to think that ending your own life is the only way out of such a horrendous situation is heart rending.

one in four women will be a victim of domestic abuse in their lifetime and the statistic is one in six for men. this domestic violence leads to two women being murdered a week and thirty men being murdered a year. men are less likely to report cases of domestic violence, according to internet statistics, and i believe this is because it is rarer for their abuser to receive a guilty verdict. i agree that more attention needs to be drawn to male victims of domestic violence as it is an issue that is often overlooked, however, predominately the victims of this violence are female. a counterargument to feminism is often male victims of domestic violence, but intersectional feminism aims to deal and end domestic violence towards EVERYONE regardless of their gender. violence towards someone in their own home at the hands of someone they love is completely unacceptable and needs to end.

it is believed that in the uk alone there are 130,000 children living in homes with a high risk of domestic abuse. in fact, 62% of children are subsequently harmed as a result of this domestic abuse, either as a method of control or because the abuser specifically wants to hurt the child too. one in five children witness domestic abuse of some sort. that figure is HUGE. the impact of witnessing such horrific violence or treatment of their parent has such damaging effects. the child can become a sufferer of severe mental illnesses such as insomnia, anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder or depression. a victim can also endure flashbacks, hyper vigilance and emotional numbing. even after the abuser has been arrested and removed from the home situation, the suffering of the victim(s) continues. research has shown that children who are abused or witness abuse, are more likely than non abused children to become abusers themselves in their adult life. while some may not become abusers, the abuse is undoubtedly going to affect their future behaviour and trust. the cycle of abuse needs to be broken, because otherwise the abused will become the abuser and create a new generation of abused who will go on to abuse etc. it will never stop. somewhere down the line someone has to say enough! there needs to be more resources and attention available to provide support for those who have become victims. without it, the side effects can be permanently damaging and who knows what the consequences of that could be for others.

an issue that was raised in the documentary was how victims find it hard to leave their abusers. i have seen comments on the internet before complaining about how victims of abuse fail to leave their harmful relationships and that angers me extremely. first off, the issue is not why victims are not leaving their abusers, it is why abusers exist in the first place. what people seem to forget is that the victims were once or even still in love with their abusive partner. that love doesn't just go away overnight at the first incident of abuse. some victims claim to still have deep emotional feelings for their abuser years after the abuse started. victims cannot leave out of fear, or because they simply have nowhere to go. not every count of domestic violence comes back with a guilty verdict and even then the sentences are hardly lengthy. in the documentary, one woman's abuser received only two years for actual bodily harm. the pictures showed of her injuries were heartbreaking, yet they were only 'worth' two years? prison may offer rehabilitation and prevent some offenders from abusing again, but the sentences are not harsh enough. abusers need to learn that their behaviour is wrong. they need to be locked away where they cannot cause harm to anyone else. how are victims meant to recover if they are constantly carrying around the fear that their abuser may appear at any moment?

i go to a secondary school where domestic abuse has never been talked about, yet 12.7% of females and 6.2% of males between 16-19 has experienced abuse of some sort. those are not statistics to be ignored. the risk of domestic abuse for a young person is increased when their partner is significantly older them and therefore it is probably easier to exert control. people in your school, or my school may have experience domestic abuse and just not have reported it. even worse, they may not have even realised that the incident was abuse. that is a common reason for not reporting domestic violence, the victim does not want to believe the worse which is understandable. if the love of your life has hit you, it is likely you would want to justify it to yourself and say it will never happen again. however, it nearly always does and this is why it is so dangerous. violence is never ever acceptable and will worsen over time.

domestic abuse, in my opinion, won't end anytime soon unless we start talking about it and standing up for each other. if you haven't watched the really insightful documentary, behind closed doors, i would recommend it. open your eyes. domestic abuse does exist. it can be ended but only if we all get involved. the government needs to do more and take a more proactive role to protect victims, but also to rehabilitate perpetrators and give them decent sentences for their crimes. i may just be seen as a teenage girl who has no idea what she is going on about, but it doesn't take a genius to work out that there is a serious issue concerning abuse. it also doesn't take a genius to work out that this is fu*king wrong and i don't want to just sit back and say nothing. i like to hope that our generation can end domestic abuse.

thank you for reading!

sophie x

This post first appeared on Sophie's Thoughts, please read the originial post: here

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behind closed doors


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