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Happy Valentine’s…? Valentines Day isn’t hearts and flowers for everyone

‘But I love you!’

Hearing this after an abusive incident can counter-act the abuse that took place.  It can cause some victims to put the hurt, the chaos, those feelings of unworthiness to one side to give their partner another chance.

When you hear the words ‘domestic abuse’ you might visualise a woman being pushed against the wall or hit across the face. However, domestic abuse isn’t always physical, it can encompass emotional and financial abuse as well as coercive control.

The normalisation of coercive control encompasses a string of strategized movements and violent threats to cause intolerable fear. It may begin with simple mood swings because he’s ‘had a bad day’, slowly escalating to tactics of force, threats, and demeaning behaviour. One moment he is angry, controlling and abusive, while in the next he is loving, caring and compassionate. Manipulating the victim and creating doubts for the victim to ponder over.

Many times, women are denied contact with parents, friends and family, are made to feel worthless, and ultimately start to hold themselves accountable for all aspects within the relationship. Isolating the victim and making them totally dependent (many times financially), whilst continuing to intimidate and undermine which may result in depression, self-degradation and low self-esteem.

The Domestic Abuse Bill recently passed in Scotland ‘could change Scotland forever’ as some campaigners have stated. The Bill creates a specific offence of “abusive behaviour in relation to a partner or ex-partner”. This includes psychological abuse such as coercive and controlling behaviour as well as violence. . This law will assist in changing the way domestic abuse is perceived, recognising that psychological abuse can have detrimental effects on the victim as well as any children involved, a break-through in the way cases were previously dealt with.

It is worth noting where this abuse stems from and its association to patriarchy. From early generations, gendered violence has accounted for women being at the receiving end of abuse. Men‘s behaviour has been justified by culture and religion. The ‘absolute’ belief in the patriarchy is very much at the core of our societies where, whenever this male superiority complex is challenged, there follows extreme backlash and the fear of broken relationships which can prevent some victims from leaving their partner.

Experiencing domestic abuse as a South Asian woman comes with additional challenges. Many times, their own family consistently victim blame (or as I like to say ‘women-blame’). Some women are told ‘it’s because you answer back,’ ‘You speak too loudly,’ ‘He’s your husband, you should be listening to him.’ Comments like these can make the victim seem like she deserves to be abused.

Cultural barriers prevent abusive relationships being spoken about with relationships strictly viewed as a private matter, this allows for the continuity and further acceptance of abusive  behaviour, once again giving men the upper hand to dictate and abuse their power.

The normalisation of this type of abuse in the home environment and its detrimental effect on each generation, paves way for the next set of men and women ready to ‘carry out’ societal expectations and be socialised into these norms.

Failing to recognise emotional and mental misconduct as domestic abuse, it is our duty to address this behaviour from our homes and raise awareness in both men and women, so we are able to correct and report this type of behaviour and rectify customary beliefs. Ridding our future generations of this toxic environment and reshaping the conventional, raising the threshold to create a better society.