*TRIGGER WARNING – THIS ARTICLE DISCUSSES DOMESTIC ABUSE*
By Ilke Denker
A viral Instagram post caught my attention this week. A girl who decided to speak up against her abusive boyfriend, calling him out for who he is, even though she had received threats from him and his family. She posted picture of her wounds and talked about months of emotional abuse.
“I didn’t deserve any of this”, she ends her post.
What interests me about this post is who shared it, who commented and who showed support. I admire the victim for her bravery of speaking up and I am thinking about all the people out there who do not speak up about gender-based violence, sexual assault and emotional abuse. I am talking about both victim and bystander.
So, my question is a simple one: At what stage would speak up?
Would you speak up if the victim was your friend/mother/sister?
Things are always different when they hit close to home. If someone who was truly close to you was abused sexually or emotionally, would you speak up about it? Would you name and shame and make sure that the world knew about an abuser that dared to lay hands on someone who is close to your heart?
Would you speak up if the abuser was your friend/brother/father?
There’s this attachment we have to abusers who are connected to us by friendship or blood. So, if you knew that someone in your close circle was abusive, what would you do? Would you speak up about it? Would you cut ties and would this action be enough?
Would you speak up if you were the victim?
If someone assaulted you sexually or gave you emotional abuse, would you speak up about it? Would you feel like you had a safe place in society to say, “I was hurt by this person, it is not right, and he should be punished for it”? Whether it was someone you did not know on a night out or if it is someone who is in your own home or close to you, would you speak up?
What is society saying about the topic “abuse”?
From the bottom of my heart, I wish we would live in a society where the topic of abuse was not left in the shadows and the perpetrators were not left to roam and abuse more people.
In the Instagram post the girl wrote: “I’m not here to tell my story simply because I’m hurt that he emotionally abused me all throughout our relationship but because I cannot sleep at night knowing that other women’s lives might be in danger too.”
Isn’t that one hell of a reason to be speaking up? To protect each other, because at the end of the day, any of us could be the victim.
If we keep on being quiet about abusive people, aren’t we putting others in danger? This includes bystanders of any form as well. No attachment should be strong enough to keep you from speaking up if you know an abusive person.
I am not blaming one single person who has been abused but has not spoken up. I am blaming society who has not created a safe environment for a victim to come out and speak their truth.
Don’t suffer in silence support is available.
Women’s Aid 24 hour helpline: 1800 341 900
Men’ Aid Confidential Helpline: 01 554 3811
Childline: 1800 66 66 66