How do you talk about your ex?
Did things end well? Or not so well, and you explain the animosity by declaring that they were 'out of their mind', 'crazy' or 'unhinged'? This kind of language is harmful and enormously disrespectful of people with mental health problems, so we wouldn't normally use it - but here it's important to use those labels.
In the 1938 stage play Gas Light, the husband tries to convince his wife that she is 'insane' by manipulating small elements of their environment (such as dimming the gas lights in the house) and insisting that she is remembering things incorrectly or delusional when she points out the changes. Gaslighting today is a form of manipulation that puts seeds of doubt into someone's mind, making them question their own memory, perception and sanity.
We've all heard about someone's 'crazy' ex partner, and we probably dismissed it at the time as a bad, but inevitable ending. For Lucie, this kind of comment is a red flag. As she explains in the podcast - did it really end badly because of the other person's delusions, or do you not want to take responsibility in the role you played? Might you have been gaslighting your ex?
Domestic abuse is a loaded term, encompassing any type of controlling, bullying, threatening or violent behaviour between people in a relationship. It includes emotional, physical, sexual, financial or psychological abuse, and it can occur in any relationship - even within families.
This description of domestic violence sounds scary, but as Chlo and Chaka point out, as a victim you explain it away. You believe your partner loves you and that if you just changed your behaviour, even just a little bit, things might be different. Lucie makes it clear that by putting the onus on the victim to leave as opposed to questioning the perpetrator, we are victim blaming. This fascination with why people stay stops the conversation around society's responsibility to intercept perpetrators and educate what healthy relationships look like. We shouldn't have to learn through trial and error.
Anyone can be a victim or a survivor of domestic abuse, but it disproportionately affects women. Two women are killed every week by current or ex partners in England and Wales, and two out of three women who approach a refuge are turned away. Almost a fifth of refuges have closed since 2010 and their capacity is dwindling. This makes it even more dangerous for victims to leave, especially as they are most vulnerable and the perpetrator most dangerous once they've walked out the door.
That's why we wanted to do a podcast episode on relationships, and in particular, on domestic abuse. We all think we know what domestic abuse is, but beyond physical violence and TV shows we don't talk about it enough. We'd like to think we'd support our friend if they were a victim, but would we call out our friend if they were the perpetrator?
Three great guests join us at Kicking the Kyriarchy in the episode below. Have a listen and let us know what you think.
Like Chaka says "I love her, but I had to love myself more."