When Battered Women Do
Getting flowers on Valentine's day
can be as bad as not getting them. Abusive men frequently use flowers
to 'draw a line' under their latest violent outburst.
(PRWEB) -- Last year, in the run-up to
Valentine's day, the Metropolitan Police campaigned to raise awareness
of domestic violence, drawing attention to the women whose partners
won't give them flowers.
This Valentine's day, like every other year, women in abusive
relationships will be living in fear. For them, Valentine's day is
likely to be a worse day than most, since their partner will probably
make a special effort to spoil it. For abused women there is little to
enjoy on Valentine's day; and getting flowers can be just as painful as
not getting them.
The language of flowers is commonly termed: ‘the language of
love'. In an abusive relationship, flowers serve a very different
purpose. Violent and verbally abusive men are given to destructive
outbursts, during which they seriously undermine their partner's
confidence and often harm them physically. Flowers can be used to
‘draw a line' under the latest violent outburst.
Harriet has a big Valentine's card with a loving message and flowers
sitting on her dining table every year. Her husband writes that he
couldn't live without her. It may be true. What he doesn't write is
that, when he beats her, he is careful not to leave any marks. He never
touches her face or arms. His violence is
calculated. He has unusual ways
of hurting and demeaning her. He has been known to take the vacuum
cleaner to her head. His attacks are becoming increasingly violent.
Harriet knows that leaving her husband could
be even more dangerous than staying with him. She also wants to do what
she believes to be best for her children.
Barbara's husband is a wealthy professional. She often receives armfuls
of flowers throughout the year, usually after a particularly abusive
argument in which her husband will list all her shortcomings over the
past 20 years and threaten to leave.
Frequently he'll pick a fight with her a day or two before Valentine's
day and spend the next few days sulking in stony silence. It's his way
of telling her how little she matters, when the rest of the country is
given to extravagant expressions of eternal love.
After Valentine's day Barbara's husband will always apologise: he'll
say that he left it too late; he couldn't get her anything because they
were fighting and he was too upset, or maybe he looked and there was
nothing left in the shop that was good enough. Then he'll buy the
flowers and take her out to dinner.
Carrie may get flowers on Valentine's day, but flowers don't make her
day. Her husband normally gives her flowers after he has forced her to
have sex with him. He argues: ‘you're my wife. If I want to
have sex, it's my right.' He doesn't believe rape exists within
marriage. And anyway, he hasn't beaten her. He only has to raise his
hand and she sees it his way.
Violent and abusive men may appear utterly careless of their partner,
but the truth is that they also need the relationship desperately, to
mask their own insecurities.
At bottom they are people with low self-worth. They need someone they
can punish whenever they feel bad about themselves. It's the
‘kick the cat' syndrome. Battering their partner, whether
emotionally or physically, makes them feel more powerful. Afterwards,
they gloss over their bad behaviour by buying flowers, or making them a
‘nice cup of tea' or taking them out to dinner; or even doing
all of these things. The message is always: ‘You can't blame
me for yesterday, because I'm a nice guy really. I buy you flowers.'
Domestic violence is happening now in a home near you. Battered women
are not just the women without a card or a flower for Valentine's day,
who force a laugh and say: ‘Oh, X isn't romantic like that.'
Battered women are also the women with dull eyes, who view their
magnificent bouquets of flowers and take no pleasure in this show of
their husband's power and contempt.
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