Brixton domestic abuse survivor welcomes new law but claims more needs to be done to break cycle of violence

“My husband held a pillow over my head – his violence was always directed above my shoulders.

“He slammed my head against the door. And swung punches at my face.”

This is the terrible reality Alice*, a victim of domestic violence, endured daily for four years.

Last December Home Secretary Theresa May announced a new law to criminalise coercive and controlling behavior with offenders potentially facing up to five years in prison.

The law is intended to protect individuals who are repeatedly exposed to controlling, intimidating or threatening behaviour.

On hearing of these changes Alice said that the law signifies a much-needed step towards acknowledging emotional abuse but did little to break the aggressive cycle once and for all.

She explained: “There is a very twisted relationship between the man who is abused and the abuser.

“She loves him to death – literally.”

“She loves him to death – literally.”

Born in Brixton, Alice met her husband at church and five months into the relationship found herself under his rule.

The 28-year-old said her husband taught her the meaning of personal boundaries and then over-stepped them all.

If she dried her face in a way that displeased him or if during dinner the fork hit her teeth he would tell her she was a disobedient wife.

He would say that he was trying to make her better, but she, in her ignorance, was not listening.

He bought her clothes and dictated how she wore them – if she paired an outfit of our own choosing he wouldn’t let her out of the house.

Alice said: “Silence was also a weapon. He would refuse to talk to me for days.

“I developed very low self-esteem and felt unattractive because he conditioned me to believe this, so I struggled to leave him.”

“I developed very low self-esteem and felt unattractive because he conditioned me to believe this, so I struggled to leave him.”

The remnants of the relationship were snuffed out when neighbours called the police during one vicious attack.

She was left with traumatic brain injury and as a result was left emotionally unstable.

However after years of rehabilitation she developed strategies to determine her own personal boundaries and although she is unable to forget what happened she explains that she has forgiven.

Despite these experiences Alice admits that she would have never testified against her husband, and would have helped him to elude prison.

According to one domestic abuse charity, which contributed to a government consultation on the subject, only 17% of victims who experience no physical abuse, but who suffer high levels of coercion and control, report to the police.

London Probation Officer Francis Brown has worked within the services for 13 years and said that he sees individuals going in and out of prison regularly due to domestic abuse issues.

In his opinion the first step of acknowledging emotional abuse is vital but believes that a prison sentence alone will create re-offenders instead of ‘curing’.

He said: “We need to allow people to reconciliate themselves, and to do this we need to provide support programmes that allow the individual to understand their own problems and why they are taking those actions.”

Picture courtesy of janet isnt real, with thanks

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