Domestic violence victims should be encouraged to speak out more

On Saturday, ex-Love Island contestant Malin Andersson spoke out about her experience in an abusive relationship to help raise awareness for National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

In an Instagram post, Andersson shared an image of her bruised arm, accompanied by a caption in which she states, “Domestic violence affects millions, both women and men, of every race, religion, culture and status. It’s not just punches and black eyes; it’s yelling, humiliation, stalking, manipulation, coercion, threats and isolation. It’s stealing a paycheck, keeping tabs online, non-stop texting, constant use of the silent treatment, or calling someone stupid so often they believe it.”

She went on to list traits to be aware of in a narcissist, including: grandiosity, lack of empathy, sense of entitlement and pompous and arrogant behaviour. 

National Domestic Violence Awareness Month began in 1981 by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence as a Day of Unity to unite victims of domestic abuse and empower them to keep fighting against the injustices done to them.

Statistics show that each year nearly 2 million people in the UK suffer some form of domestic abuse – 1.3 million female victims (8.2% of the population) and 600,000 male victims (4%). As well as physical damage, the psychological impact of domestic violence is deep-rooted and long-lasting, with many victims suffering from low self-esteem and trust issues in other relationships.

Victims are often silenced by their abusers or choose not to speak up out of fear of further repercussions. In many cases, men are afraid to speak up for fear of being mocked, as controlling girlfriends are often made a joke of in the wider media. Andersson’s decision to share her story is an incredibly courageous one, stressing that no one should have that much control over you. 

A picture can speak a thousand words and what I see in her post is not a woman who has been defeated by an oppressive relationship, but a fighter who owns her story and is striving to improve the quality of not only her life but of others too.

Last week, Serena Williams also raised awareness for National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, by partnering with the Allstate Foundation’s Purple Purse initiative in America to raise awareness around the rampant problem of financial abuse in relationships.

Speaking to Glamour, she said, “Victims of domestic violence are often asked, ‘Why don’t you just leave?’ and what we found is that financial abuse is one of the reasons.

“It can take on many forms, depending on the situation, but some examples include when an abuser prevents a victim from working, or they really limit their access to money or credit cards, or they even intentionally ruin their credit.”

The number of domestic abuse cases is way too high; violence isn’t a show of strength, it’s a test of weakness. It’s important to raise awareness for issues such as this in order to make people alert of warning signs and for people in relationships to be mindful of respected boundaries with their partners.

There is no shame in asking for help. If you feel trapped in an abusive relationship, know of somebody who is or wish to contribute to aid others who are in urgent need of help please contact these charities:

Image: @missmalinsara on Instagram

Kiran Athwal

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