Abuse in Relationships: The Possible Impact on Women and Girls

20140103-004130.jpgPhoto: © Patricia Foster

In response to “Start Anew” by Taurus Riley.

“When abuse is also emotional, psychological and verbal, as hard as it is, that is a crucial time to walk away. This is not love and no amount of repeated apologies, gifts or flowers makes it OK! ”
~ Patricia Foster
19/2/13

I was alighted to a video by one of my favourite artists, Jamaican singer Taurus Riley. The 2009 song ‘Start Anew’ depicts the emotionally charged dynamics of relationship abuse towards women.

He cleverly conveys very powerful words and a strong message for women currently in abusive relationships. Abuse in relationships can be mental or emotional, as well as physical.

The scars – emotional, mental or physical – can stay with some women for years, impacting on their lives, their choices and those around them.

I think it is also important for a man to speak out against abuse towards women in a relationship. This also reinforces the message and shows there are positive and progressive men who will not tolerate this behaviour and are making it clear they will not be covering up for their fellow men’s misdemeanours.

‘What about us men?’, I hear you cry. Yes, abuse against men does exist. This was recently highlighted in the dramatised physical abuse storyline between Coronation Street’s characters Tyrone Dobbs and his fiancé Kirsty Soames (portrayed by Alan Halsall and Natalie Gumede respectively). In July 2013, the wife of former motorcycle stunt rider Eddie Kidd was sentenced for physical abuse towards her husband.

Statistics show that in the UK, more women are likely to suffer relationship abuse than men.
A February 2013 online article in ‘Family Law Week’ contains findings from the survey ‘Focus on Violent Crime and Sexual Offences 2011/12’. The survey reveals “7% of women and 5% of men have suffered domestic abuse in the year 2011-2012. This equates to an estimated figure of 1.2 million female and 800,000 male victims. The article also defines relationship or domestic abuse as: “‘domestic abuse’ includes non-physical abuse, threats, force, sexual assault or stalking carried out by a current or former partner or other family member.”

Speaking from a woman’s point of view (I have unfortunately experienced relationship abuse), abuse against women in relationships can be as subtle as it is obvious.

Sometimes it may take a while to realise that what you are involved in is abuse. It may be easier for outsiders to say “why did you go there?”. Instead, I believe understanding, support and perhaps refuge should be offered to the abused, so they have time to heal and grow stronger.

It is important as well for parents and guardians to empower girls and young women with the tools and positive, mental attitude to steer them along the path towards supportive, loving relationships. These seeds can be planted early on by demonstrating and exposing them to positive, loving examples of relationships in the home as well as through the media. Also imparting them with the wisdom and knowledge as to how they inform others the way they wish to be treated as a girl/young woman/female. One of the modules I recently co-delivered on a six-week course entitled ‘The Virtue Programme’ covered exactly this notion of communicating with others how we wish to be treated and how we want others to engage with us.

Of course, this is easier said than done. If the intention at the onset is to prepare young girls for future relationships, then over time and with practice, empowering our young girls with inner-strengthening tools and messages will become easier. I would also add that it is important while delivering these messages the importance of painting men in a positive light as opposed to misogynistic monsters.

Relationship abuse is within the underbelly of our community and comes in many guises. Abuse, any type of abusive, should not be tolerated on any level whatsoever.

Well done, Mr Riley!

© Patricia Foster 6th November 2013

References:
“Start Anew” by Taurus Riley 2009.

Article in ‘Family Law Week’
http://www.familylawweek.co.uk/site.aspx?i=ed111665, Survey: ‘Focus on Violent Crime and Sexual Offences 2011/12’

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