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By Peter Stevenson MEMBERS of Volunteer Doctors Cyprus have treated around 350 people at their free clinic in Nicosia since it opened three months ago, while two more, one in Paphos and one in Polis are due to open today. Limassol also has a free clinic, which was opened only last month, and plans have been drawn ...
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SOME 10 days ago, foreign minister Ioannis Kasoulides raised expectations by announcing the possibility of a deal with Turkey for the opening of the fenced off area of Famagusta, for the return of its inhabitants. In exchange the Cyprus government would agree to the opening of Tymbou airport to direct flights. ...
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Cyprus Internet Directory [ Domestic abuse: finding the courage to leave ]

Domestic abuse: finding the courage to leave

Statistics

Research has shown that it takes on average 35 beatings before a woman seeks help.

One in three women who arrive at inner city A&E departments has suffered domestic abuse, according to the journal of Emergency Medicine.

Police reports show that two women are killed by a partner or ex partner every week of the year.

Around 750, 000 children in the UK each year witness domestic abuse on a regular basis.

Studies have shown that in more than 36 per cent of domestic violence cases, the abuse started during pregnancy.

In the US, the leading cause of death for pregnant women is homicide. 

FOR YEARS 38-year-old Marie put up with her husband monitoring her every move and abusing her every time he considered she had put a step wrong.

Apparently, there were many such times. She was too scared to leave her husband for fear of not being able to care for her three children, but also the constant beatings and verbal abuse had destroyed her self confidence. She had no self esteem, felt ugly and worthless, which made it all the harder to pluck up the courage to leave.

“My husband was one of those men who show one good and gentle side to people, then at home he becomes a monster,” she said. “That’s why no one would believe me even if I had confided in a friend.” But over the years Marie lost most of her friends because her husband made it so hard for them to meet.

“When I did go out for coffee with a girlfriend he would phone me every fifteen minutes to see what I was doing, what I was talking about, so eventually I just didn’t do that anymore,” she said.

Even going to the supermarket was monitored. “If I went he would always ask for the till receipt which had the time marked on it to make sure I had come straight home. “He always wanted sex all the time and I usually gave in because I knew it was the price I had to pay for a good day next day. My feelings didn’t count. I didn’t have any say.”

Another reason Marie put up with the abuse for so long was because she felt there was no one to help her, a view highlighted by a new report released a few weeks ago. The report, prepared by five non-government organisations, also accused the government of deliberately minimising the number of domestic violence victims by not collecting accurate data under EU definitions. Despite this, statistics from the Association for the Prevention of Violence in the Family show a marked increase in reported cases of all types of domestic violence – against women, children and men - with 624 cases in 2006 rising sharply to 1,128 in 2008.

Eighteen months ago Marie finally overcame her fears and left her husband taking the children with her. “I left him because the thought of my children having to live a violent and uncontrolled home life was just too much to bear,” she said.

Although Marie is now receiving help and professional advice from a battered women’s charity, she had to plan the actual escape carefully and virtually alone.

“I started saving money here and there. When he was drunk I would empty the change from his pockets and hide the money. Eventually I had enough to get a taxi to a cousin who guessed what was going on and offered to help,” she said. “She lived at the other side of the island, so we hid there for three months until I got myself together.”

But Marie’s battles are far from over. Her husband is now threatening court action to get the children back. “I can’t leave the island as he has to sign forms to get them a passport.” The professional help she is now getting “has literally saved our lives”.

All the women I talked to genuinely believed in the beginning that after the first episode of abuse, they could manage to change their abusive partner with a combination of patience, compassion and love. All felt that the first time their partner hit them that it was purely a one off occurrence especially as this was usually followed with profuse apologies from the abuser. From there, many women then settle into a vicious cycle of abuse that they find almost impossible to escape from.

It is a cycle all too wearily familiar to 43-year-old Antigoni. “My husband was fine when we were courting and for the first year of our marriage everything was normal, then I fell pregnant, and he started to drink even more than he used to,” she said. “He would always hit me where it wasn’t seen once I had my clothes on, on my thighs, lower back and on the stomach.”

The littlest thing would start the abuse: his food wasn’t hot enough or his shirt had lost a button. “One night he just turned round and said he was going to hit me just because I was so fat and ugly.”

Antigoni felt she couldn’t talk to anyone as his family were well known in town, and thought her parents would not believe her.

“I was five months pregnant with no money or place to go. I had no choice but to stay and take what he gave me,” she said.

Respite from the abuse came when she had to be hospitalised in the six month of pregnancy due to complications and had to stay there on and off there till the baby was born. “He hated that and when he visited me he would warn me that I would have to pay when I got home for leaving him to fend for himself.”

It was shortly after the birth of her daughter that Antigoni finally found the strength she needed to end the ordeal of the previous three years.

“He had hit me and after he had finished he went up to bed. I took a large carving knife from the kitchen block and I was ready to walk upstairs and stick the knife into his chest while he was sleeping.

“As I was going up the stairs I looked into the nursery and saw my baby was lying there all innocent and looking so beautiful. I just knew at that moment it was no longer just me that would suffer if he stayed but my daughter would also be in danger.

“It was my house and from somewhere I got this courage to wake him and tell him that he was finished in my life, and if he didn’t go now I would tell everyone what he had done and if he didn’t leave I would kill him in his sleep.

“He had never ever seen me like this before and it really shocked him. He left but makes daily telephone calls saying how he wants us back and says how sorry he is, but now that’s all too late. It’s just me and my daughter against the world and no man will ever be allowed into our world again.”

If you suffer from domestic abuse or know someone who does then contact the free phone help line 1440. This is run by the Association for the prevention and handling of violence in the family.

Their web site is in both Greek and English- www.domviolence.org.cy


Male victim of Domestic Abuse.

By Jill Campbell Mackay

OF THE 1,128 reported incidents of domestic violence last year 67 were carried out by women on men.

Because the proportion of abuse against men is so tiny, and because the general difference in physical strength between men and women makes a female abuser appear so incongruous, the issue tends to get ignored.

For male victims, however, the emotional scars, if not the physical ones, are every bit as damaging as they are for women who have been abused.

Joe, age 39, was abused hundreds of times during his three year marriage to a highly demanding wife with a serious alcohol problem.

“When I married my wife 18 months after meeting her, I knew she had a bit of drink problem but thought I could help her deal with it,” he said.

When the couple moved from Holland to Cyprus, however, the drinking – and the violence - got worse.

“I would come out of the bathroom and she would be waiting at the side of the door and just punch me in the face, followed by a massive tirade of verbal abuse.

“Trying to ignore her didn’t work because she craved attention all the time. I didn’t hit her back because I didn’t come from a culture where it was accepted to hit a woman.”

She started lying to family and friends saying Joe was abusing her, and became increasingly unstable.

“One minute we would be laughing and chatting in the car going to a party or visiting friends, then when we got to the front door of a friend’s house, she in a split second would have turned into this sobbing hysterical mess telling friends how I had abused her on the way over to visit them,” Joe recalled.

“One night I woke to find her on top of me punching my face.”

Joe became increasingly isolated from his friends because he thought they believed her stories about him. He lost weight and couldn’t sleep, and started feeling depressed, guilty, humiliated and angry. The couple tried counselling and AA meetings but she lasted about five minutes before walking out in a rage.

“Then one day I went to work and realised that I just couldn’t go home again, so I booked into a hotel, turned my mobile off and slept for a solid 48 hours,” he said.

It was the respite he needed. Afterwards he managed to get the nerve to return home, collect some personal belongings and move in with friends. “In the meantime she emptied our bank account and I was left with no home, no money and hanging on to my job by my fingernails.

“The one positive thing I did know was, if I had stayed one or both of us would have eventually been found dead, either at the hands of one another, or in my case I know I would have ended up with such a serious breakdown that I would have killed myself.”

Joe has now managed to meet someone else is trying to rebuild what he hopes. Perhaps needless to say, his new partner does not drink. “I know not all women who drink become violently aggressive, but after my experience I just am fearful of people who drink and that I know it’s sad, but, she has made me be like that.”       

Through all the years of abuse, Joe felt he couldn’t ever talk to anyone about it except to his sister. “No one around me would ever have believed me. She was just so credible, so good at the lying. And she was only a tiny thing whereas I am a well built bloke who looks as if I could take of myself.”




(Source: Cyprus Mail)
Copyright © Cyprus Mail 2008 Please contact Cyprus Mail for the copyright terms of this article.



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