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Case studies to better understand domestic violence Case studies to better understand domestic violence
by Joseph Gatt
2020-01-15 06:42:28
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I am a man. 5 feet 9, rather sturdy. Yet I was a victim of domestic violence by my ex-girlfriend for many years. The story goes like this. It was threatening text messages, it was hours of rage at home, it was weeks of disappearance and silent treatment, followed up by days of rage. There were no bruises, but she did tear my shirt a few times, slap me on the face a few times and shake me a few times. She threw the collective book I wrote in the garbage, told her friends I was a “lazy” student, and kept telling me that I should “study for the next twenty years before I'm allowed to talk in any classroom.” She threw Doritos bowls at me in pubs, splashed me with beer a few times, and told my friends to “get the hell out” when I hung out with friends at cafés or pubs and naively thought she'd have a good time with them.

domes01_400So this was all over in June 2015. Since June 2015, I started collecting stories of domestic violence, and connected with the men and women as I understood their pain, understood the details, and we connected over the stories. Below are some anonymous stories.

Story 1: B. is a woman and is married to K. B. is stuck with K. because they have a mortgage to pay, quite a few debts to repay, and a complicated family dynamic. K. claims to own three businesses, but he wakes up at noon every day, goes out of home at 1 PM, comes back home at 3 PM, and starts drinking liquor at 3 PM, only to have his last shot around 1 AM, at which point he will have his only meal of the day, before he crashes in bed. While drinking, K. showers B. with insults. B. feels like she's K's slave, as K. often gives her orders out of the blue. He'll ask her to call the plumber without specifying why he needs a plumber, or K. will ask her to go out and “come back in an hour or two” without specifying the reason. K. often yells at B. if he calls her name and she doesn't hear him, and K. corrects B.'s “factual mistakes.” One day, B. told K. that shawarma sandwiches were made with “pita” bread and K. erupted like a volcano by telling her it was made with “tortilla” bread. When B. insisted it was pita bread, K. violently shook her. After his drunken meals, K. likes to binge on chocolate, and K. shakes up B. violently when they run out of chocolate. Unfortunately, B. can not complain to her family as her sister M. is married to a “rich guy” and B. is worried she would lose face if she complained about her husband K., as she would look really bad in her competition against her sister M.

Story 2: M. is a woman married with T. who is a man. T. has very severe anger management issues and gets very angry as soon as M. says or does anything. For example, one day T. asked M. where she was. M. said “just around the corner” which severely angered T. M. then corrected herself by saying she went buy groceries at the market. That caused T. to be enraged, as T. berated her for “spending too much money.” Another time T. could not get the printer to work and violently shook M. while telling M. that if the printer doesn't work it's her fault that she should have detected the problem and let him know. Another time T. told M. to switch on the TV. M. switched on the TV and CNN was on, which caused a violent outburst from T. T. told M. “how come it's not ESPN that's on?” while violently shaking M.

Story 3: A. is a man married to Z. who is a woman. A. is a very kind man but Z. has a foul temper. A. and Z. have three children, and Z. keeps shaming A. about not having enough money to raise the children. Z. asks A. for abnormal sums of money “for the children” when A. does not see where the money is going. Z. often hits A. with a metal bar on the head and on the legs for petty things like spilling food or forgetting to switch off the lights. Unfortunately A. can not complain to his family or friends, because he fears he will be ridiculed for being abused by a woman and doing nothing about it. A. considers giving his wife a fight, but is worried the police would become involved and is worried about the future of his children, as A.'s mother is deceased and A has no sisters or direct family members who could help him raise his children.

Finally, story 4: K. and J. are a gay couple. K. berates J. for his opinions, and uses J. like a slave. K. sits home and drinks liquor all day, while forcing J. to clean the house, do the chores and even petty things like switching on the TV. K. sometimes violently shakes J. for petty things like not putting enough salt in the meal. J. is afraid to complain to his family as J.'s family was opposed to his homosexuality and gay marriage and it took a lot of time for J. to convince his family to reluctantly approve of his lifestyle.

To conclude: what is domestic violence?

Domestic violence and abuse is a mixture of physical violence and verbal violence. Such violence is often meant to humiliate the partner and to establish a very clear hierarchy in the couple. Domestic violence is not a one-time event that ends with apologies, but a repeated cycle of humiliation that never seems to end.

Unfortunately, victims often refuse to complain or report the violence either because of social pressure, competition within the family circle, judgmental family members, lack of empathy and love among family members, and a society that accepts unconditional hierarchy within a couple. Men are told to shut up when facing violence or otherwise come out as “sissies” while women are told be shut up because “the man is in charge and is always right.”

If you're a victim of domestic violence, I suggest you take that to your family. If you have no family (or trust problems within your family) I suggest you take that to a religious figure or certified counselor. Failing that, I suggest you take it to the police. Note that in some countries, the police can refuse to take complaints of domestic violence, while rabbis, imams and pastors could be of that school where “the man is in charge, I see no problem with domestic violence.”

Finally, one trick domestic violence perpetrators use is to say “I hate it when people tattle. Don't tattle. If you have a problem with me, take it to me. Let's fight it out amongst ourselves. Don't tattle and bring intruders in the middle of our fight.” If your perpetrator says that, I suggest your start off with discretion until a safe solution is found to this problem. Very often, violent husbands or wives kill their partners when they find out their partners reported the violence to “intruders.”

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