finance

An important message from the daughter of a domestic violence victim.

Anyone who knows my mum, knows she is a strong and independent woman. Her line of work (she works for a trade union) sees her defending her members in David and Goliath type battles all the time. She literally spends her days going into bat for the little guy. Definitely not the kind of person to succumb to pressure, manipulation or intimidation.

Sounds nothing like the type of person you’d expect to have experienced domestic violence, right?

Well that’s because domestic violence does not discriminate.

There are so many misconceptions about domestic violence, including the myth that women who are victims must have low self-esteem, be poor and uneducated.

Read More: “Everyone thought my life, and marriage, was perfect. Until he drugged me.”

"There are many myths and misconceptions about domestic violence". Image via iStock.

Another common misconception is that domestic violence is only physical abuse. This is incorrect.

It can begin as controlling behaviours such as jealousy, dictating what to wear, making you feel guilty, ignoring your wishes, telling you where to go or not go, controlling finances, etc.

Often it begins subtly and times of jealousy or possessiveness can be passed off as affection, sincerity or love, but these can be early warning signs of abuse and are inherently controlling behaviours. Before it's too late, you are living with a person you love but that you also fear.

I hear way too often people say "why doesn't the woman just leave?" For the reasons I've mentioned above and many more, women stay in abusive relationships because of the fear that the violence will escalate. They stay for reasons of financial dependence, social stigma, lack of self-confidence, isolation, religious and moral values, love and commitment, concern for children, family pressures and lack of community support.

ADVERTISEMENT
Author, Olivia White. Image: Supplied.

Read more: I lost my daughter to domestic violence.

My mum was with my biological father for over four years before they were engaged and got married. Like in most cases the domestic violence she suffered began subtly. Over a period of time it got worse and became more obvious.

When my mum fell pregnant with me, it made her look at things in a different light, as it was no longer herself she had to worry about. Finally, when the abuse escalated to a physical nature, she made the tough decision to leave. She literally walked out of the relationship with a baby and nothing else. A decision I only fully understand and appreciate now that I have a child of my own. A decision I will be forever grateful and proud of my mother for making.

So before you convince yourself that domestic violence only affects a certain type of person, remember that all communities, regardless of cultural, education or socio-economic background, are affected.

With an astonishing 1 in 6 woman likely to be affected by domestic violence it is critical that we talk about it, openly and publicly. We must discuss what healthy relationships look like, and talk about what safety at home really means. We need to do so not just to potentially help someone in need, but to educate and protect future generations.

You never know who's life you might change.

Olivia White is mum to toddler, Annabelle, furry babies, Henry & PJ, wife to Jeremy and expecting number two in early 2016. She is also the founder and editor of motherhood and lifestyle blog House of White, which blogs a fun, honest and relatable perspective on motherhood.

00:00 / ???