Musings on Domestic Abuse

Reading and watching clips of the Emmys this year, I was reminded of two recent conversations. One was about sexual discrimination, another was on domestic abuse.

Why?

I recently caught up with a family member who I don’t see often. Let’s call him Tim.

On greeting Tim, Andrew shook his hand, and Tim yelped in pain. Apparently, he had spent the previous evening drinking heavily, getting blind drunk, went home, argued with his girlfriend, and exploded in an uncontrollable rage, ending with him viciously punching and breaking a door – hurting his hand in the process…

So what?

It isn’t right for anyone to get angry and aggressive like that. It’s a form of domestic abuse which the “complicated, insidious Nicole Kidman’s Emmy speech reminded me of. No one should feel scared in their own home, and that kind of behaviour is terrifying for children.

The whole thing upset me on several counts.

I care about Tim, and it’s hard to see him living his life this way.  He currently lives with his girlfriend and her young daughter, (when they are together – it’s a very off and on relationship). His girlfriend and her little girl should never have to deal with that kind of stress.

Tim is built like a brick house and it’s scary to see him lose it. I’ve seen it – I know. I’ve seen the smallest things set him off as he takes everything so personally. He has a threatening temper and a history of violence. In part because of his upbringing – he grew up in a hostile environment and was bullied at school, (not that it’s an excuse. Many were bullied and brought up in angry and aggressive environments. Most have since calmed down).

As far as I know, he didn’t hit his girlfriend or anyone else, but seeing red and going crazy like that is frightening. I’m scared that next time it won’t be the door.

He’s not that bad

Granted, TIm has a soft side and a functional job. He was an intelligent kid, and can be very sweet and funny when he wants to be, (although invariably skint and constantly trying to borrow money, despite earning a very good wage and paying hardly any rent…).

Like Nicole says, domestic abuse is “filled with shame and secrecy“. It’s a very difficult situation to deal with, especially if you have to rely on the abuser in some way, and the abuser appears fine to everyone else. I hope Tim’s girlfriend and her young daughter are alright. They certainly deserve better.

So what can he do?

The rest of my family seem to have given up on Tim. For a while, they were convinced that all he needed was to fall in love with “a good woman” who would encourage him to settle, and calm down. I’m no relationship expert, but I’m not sure how many emotionally stable, loving women, would be naturally drawn to Tim in his current state. So now, it’s back to, “That’s who he is, you can’t change him“.

I get that it’s up to Tim to help himself, and that people don’t want to get involved, but tolerating his actions with that kind of attitude normalises his destructive behaviour. Makes it seem admissible in some way.

That isn’t right. I think we should all be emphasising how his belligerence is wrong. It isn’t right on any level, and it certainly isn’t fair to those he lives with.

Tim’s a man now, and has a son, (who lives with the son’s mother elsewhere). He needs to grow up, and control his furious temper. He needs to quit venting on Facebook using caustic remarks to get to people too. Or maybe that’s his way of letting the world know that he’s not happy with himself, or his life.   

It’s up to him to see a counsellor and seek help to deal with these issues. No one else can do that for him. For his own sake, and the benefit of his girlfriend, and her young daughter, I hope he does. (Also for his son and his relationship with the mother of his son.) His own life and the quality of his relationships with so many people would be better for it. As would the lives of everyone around him.

I’ve met people who haven’t let go of traumatic events that happened decades ago. Adverse events which continue to shape their state of mind, and actions. I’ve seen it go on for the full length of some people’s lives. It’s very sad seeing the negative impact that those developments have on their lives. It doesn’t just affect them, but everyone they interact with too.

It’s not a good way to live. You have to deal with issues like that. Let them go at some stage, otherwise they will stay with you forever. I really hope that Tim gets some help. He really needs to figure out a way to control and help himself.

Like I’ve said before, being angry is a natural emotion, but you need to be able to handle it respectfully and healthily. Learn to resolve contentious issues in a peaceful and mature way. Raging and screaming like a madman, using physical violence to express anger is not the answer.

Objecting people to that kind of behaviour, especially at home, where everyone deserves to feel safe, is domestic abuse. It’s not in any way acceptable.

 

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