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Tackling Domestic Abuse

by Maryam Anser

It’s often the case that catastrophic events make front page news – homicide, terrorist plots, and natural disasters; we offer our support to victims through crowdfunding, vigils, protests and social media. But there is a certain catastrophe that goes overlooked by us as a majority. Domestic abuse.

Domestic abuse is no longer defined as the use of physical violence towards an individual; it now notices emotional and psychological torment as domestic abuse. In recognising that abuse is not just physical, it further adds to its ability to go undetected, to the detriment of the victim. Physical abuse cannot be concealed as easily as emotional or psychological abuse, the outside world can see the bruises and the scars, and what is seen, can be helped. Victims of physical abuse can get the help and support they require because their wounds are visible and spark outrage. Furthermore, their perpetrators are more often than not bought to the law and sentenced for their crimes.

It’s unfortunate however, victims of emotional and psychological abuse are not given justice in the same manner. On the contrary to victims of physical abuse, the scars they bare are never seen because they are hidden away from our sight, abuse of this nature is so much more malicious. This is not to say physical abuse is not malicious, but perpetrators of violence leave their crimes to be scrutinised by the masses. It’s not so forthright in the case of emotional or psychological abuse, the perpetrators of this can continue their abuse for years and it will remain invisible. The victims will seldom speak out because they may not recognise the abuse, leaving them stuck and unable to get the help they desperately need.

With the proliferated use of social media in recent times, the ability for abusers to inflict abuse on victims is so much more enabled, even so, it is repeatedly undetected even on public platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. The problem lies in the failure of recognising what emotional or psychological abuse is; if it cannot be recognised as easily as physical abuse, victims are not recognised and supported. Some examples of this kind of abuse includes but is not limited to- controlling behaviour or coercive control, verbal abuse, gaslighting and threatening behaviour. Whilst all these behaviors are easily recognised in real life situations, they may not be as easily detected on social media, but they are definitely present. It could be in the form of sly, abusive comments made on an individual’s pictures, publicly mocking them or even going as far as tracking them and their social media footprint.

As mentioned, emotional and psychological abuse may be difficult to detect in the first instance, but due to the nature of this kind of abuse and with the popularity of social media, it is easily evidenced in many cases. Victims may have conversations saved highlighting the abuse, and it is important to bring this to light in order to bring perpetrators to punishment the same as the physically abusive. Emotional and psychological is no less damaging to an individual than physical abuse, and it must be treated in the same way as physical abuse to protect victims. Domestic abuse victims should be urged to speak out, and individuals who witness it must speak out also.

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