Our newest release Steps to Freedom — Escaping intimate control is out next Friday, and a couple of weeks ago Don Hennessy had a chat with Seán Moncrieff on Newstalk about the main topic of the book: domestic violence.
Seán explained that 'the term "domestic violence" can often describe something beyond domestic violence: it can describe a highly dysfunctional relationship where one partner effectively controls the behaviour of the other. Both women and men can find themselves in such relationships, and the numbers in Ireland are thought to be in the hundreds of thousands.'
As Don put it during the interview, 'the home is the most dangerous place on Earth and there are lots of different forms of violence going on within the home, and lots of psychological and emotional abuse as well.' Domestic violence is not just about physical violence, but also about all those kinds of violence based on the desire to control the other person in the relationship.
What are the signs that indicate we are dealing with an abusive relationship? Don pointed out that 'the primary thing that happens is that the target person takes the blame for what's going on. Instead of looking at his behaviour, she examines her own actions and she begins to tell herself "if I don't say that, if I change my approach to that then he won't be upset and then I'll have a reasonably good relationship." She tries to improve herself rather than condemn him.'
It is very difficult for the victims to realise what's actually going on, to realise that they're victims. Seán read a message of a listener that proves this perfectly: 'My friend is in an abusive relationship. We have all tried to warn her, help her, but she refuses to believe anything is wrong. She's in love. We're all worried she'll end up dead.' Don, who's been a relationship counsellor for several years, told: 'the person who's being controlled may never know. I've met women in their eighties controlled all their lives that defined the relationship as difficult or up and down, but when I say "no, you've never been in charge of your own life", it becomes a shock to them to realise that any decision that was ever made in the relationship, if it was a big decision, was made by him.'