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When violence is other than physical

Sixty-four per cent? Well, I am sure 100 per cent of those suffering at the hands of controlling partners would vehemently disagree with the 36 per cent who think it’s perfectly normal to tap a partner’s phone or limit their access to their own money.

So what else is threatening our nation if it’s not physical violence? Let’s call it family control or controlling behaviours.

I’ll make a partial list here, see if you recognise any of these:

  • Isolating you from friends and family
  • Chronic criticism—even if it’s “small” things
  • Veiled or overt threats, against you or them
  • Keeping tally of every last interaction within your relationship
  • Using guiltas a tool
  • Creating a debt you’re beholden to
  • Spying, snooping
  • Overactive jealousy, accusations, paranoia
  • Making you “earn” trust or other good treatment
  • Presuming you guilty until proven innocent
  • Making you feel belittled for long-held beliefs
  • Teasing or ridicule that has an uncomfortable undercurrent
  • Inability or unwillingness to ever hear your point of view
  • Thwarting your professional or educational goals by making you doubt yourself

Well, that’s a long list and I haven’t even scratched the surface. These are generally considered forms of emotional and psychological abuse. Have you heard of financial abuse? These six are very common. Again, have you experienced this?

  • Forced career choices
  • Every penny spent is a penny tracked
  • No bank account – this one is unbelievably common!
  • Threats of leaving with no money
  • Lazy bum – deadbeat – My Woman-is-My-Momma Syndrome
  • Forced family – continuing pregnancies

Recently in the UK a law was passed of a maximum sentence of five years for controlling behaviours that also include monitoring of social media accounts, control of who a partner sees and what they wear. I wish Australia was as progressive. Now in Australia, the common knee-jerk reaction seems to be, “Why doesn’t she leave?”

Here’s one example of why.

Imagine for a moment a woman has released herself from a toxic and controlling relationship – what next? She certainly doesn’t qualify for any of the emergency women’s shelters as her life isn’t in any apparent imminent danger, so she decides to go out on her own, a new life free from control.

She applies for a rental, uh-oh, she has no rental history as her husband/partner wouldn’t allow her to be on any tenancy agreement. She needs to take a bit of time off work to do this; her boss gives her grief for taking (legal) annual leave, so now her job is in danger. She meets with the estate agent and explains her situation; said estate agent takes pity and says having no tenancy history is fine as long as she can pay the bond and four weeks upfront. Right, great … Hmm, she applies for a credit card, oops, she has no credit history as all credit cards were in her husband/partner’s name. She gets declined.  She returns to the controlling home. Do you see a cycle here?

Family control may not leave a mark on her face, but it leaves a long-lasting emotional, psychological and complex mark on any future decision made by a woman that is trying to leave.
We do need to look at how to stop the epidemic of death associated with domestic violence currently occurring in Australia but we also need to be looking at ways to stem the controlling behaviours that escalate into the increasing numbers of deaths.

Women dead in March: 3

Women dead in 2017: 10

 

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