you can't talk about domestic violence without talking about relationships ending. you can't support people in the throes of considering ending an abusive relationship without having some idea of your own feelings about relationships: what are they, in your life? what are they for? what works for you and what doesn't? what will you compromise on? what would cause you to end the relationship immediately and walk away with nothing and never look back? if your partner hit you? today, for the first time? really? i don't believe you.
hmm i have so so much to say about all this but i think it will have to be split into several posts rather than an epic coffee-fuelled mess of a rant.
i just wanted to reflect on sitting around tables in child protection meetings, or on the phone with (fucking) social workers (spit)* and other beige professionals, looking/sounding appalled not so much by the actual physical violence as by the undignified intensity of the relationship being discussed. as if these people have never really loved, you know? i mean these are people who apparently can sleep soundly in their beds having taken children away from their mothers who want to leave the violence (see previous post), so there is definitely something missing from their hearts. but yeah, anyway - it does seem like there are lots of people who don't love with their all, who just look baffled, accusing and scared when confronted with a woman who loves in that all-consuming way and don't give me all that 'it's not love it's need' bollocks. yes it is need, and i am very anti need, anti dependency in relationships. but it is love too. it really is.
it maddens me that these women are made to feel wrong and/or crazy in terms of the intensity of their feelings. there's nothing wrong with loving with everything you have - as much as i fervently believe we should all figure out ways of being interdependent rather than dependent - we are not born with the knowledge of how to do this and our culture does not support or even suggest that. our culture pressurises us to find The One and if you're someone with an open heart who loves with their all, you can end up in a mess if that one then manipulates and controls you. but it doesn't mean you're wrong to love!
i think part of supporting, and what you're not going to hear on a 'how to do DV work' training course, is acknowledging the depth of that love, the passion, and slowly starting to unpick how the need is woven through it, how the need was created, and what else the person has in their lives - people, resources, and strengths, to lessen the need on the One. if you approach the whole thing by invalidating the real love, you aren't going to get anywhere, in fact you're very likely to leave the survivor with the (possibly correct) idea that the perpetrator is the only person who understands.
*possibly had too much coffee this morning