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Domestic Abuse and Domestic Violence

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Domestic abuse and domestic violence are topics I talk and write about quite extensively. If you’ve attended or read any, you’ll know by now views on the term “domestic violence”.

To put it really simply, a picture can show the result of domestic violence, but it doesn’t always show the result of domestic abuse. As such referring to experiences as domestic violence, we might be neglect a deeper picture.┬áHaving experienced both violence and abuse in the home as a child, I’ve always had an issue with the term “domestic violence” to sum up everything traumatic in the home.

To me, violence is physical, so using the term domestic violence means physical abuse. However, we seem to use domestic violence as a catch all, including actions such as coercive control, which is often not physical. Those of us who work in the domestic violence space understand the complexities of what’s being referred to, however not everyone realises that abuse is much more than physical. You may have heard the phrase “at least they didn’t hit me”, and that’s precisely the issue, victims may forgo abuse because it’s not an inherently violent action.

I’m going to share a traumatic experience, that didn’t include violence at all to explain what I mean. Trigger warning, I’ll be discussing abuse.

When I was about 4 or 5 years old my father decided randomly to take me to a park after he finished wor. I was incredibly excited about this as he rarely wanted any such interaction with me. I don’t remember how far away the park was, but it was far enough that we had to take his car.

We got there, and it was actually a lot of fun. That part of it is a pleasant memory I have of my father. However, I suddenly needed to go to the toilet and I remember my father’s demeanour changing. He started getting angry with me because there were no toilets around and insisted I hold it. I held it for as long as I could but I ended up soiling myself and I started crying.

This enraged him and he started yelling at me again. He started belittling me, telling me I was dirty, stupid and I ruined our trip to the park. He started walking off, and I followed him to the car as the mess had started get worse. We got to the car and he asked me where I was going. I couldn’t stop crying and he told me I wasn’t going home with him.

I stood there, I remember the confusion more than anything. And he left me, I remember his car driving away as I stayed put in the park, crying as the mess became worse and it was becoming dark.

I don’t remember anything else, I’ve probably blocked it out, because I can’t remember how I got home.

That event wasn’t violent, but it was traumatic and incredibly abusive.

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