Every single time there’s a domestic violence report in Australia (and unfortunately Australia has a huge domestic violence problem) people comment and pass their judgement. Obviously. It’s what humanity does.
Many people offer support, provide their own personal stories, and say things like, “I’ll pray for you.”
However, for every person that is kind with their words, there’s always someone who pipes up with, “Well, it’s her fault for staying!” or, “But why didn’t she leave?”
I’ve expressed before, in Sticks and Stones, my own personal reasons for staying in an emotional and psychologically abusive relationship.
There were many reasons – and you can read them all in that article if you would to (and haven’t before) – but mainly it came down to the fact that I thought my boyfriend had an anger problem, not an abusive one.
Recently, in NSW, a young woman was violently and viciously attacked by her boyfriend.
The police, when called, did not believe the victim (she called as she wanted to file a complaint against her partner).
Instead, despite the fact that she showed them messages from her boyfriend who was threatening her not to tell anyone, they took his side.
What was his side of the story?
She fell down ‘on her face’.
Other than the fact that I can barely hold my disdain that, despite her significant and obvious injuries, the police believed this, another person used this victim’s story for his own personal gain (yes, this story gets more despicable, if at all possible).
This man is known as Durian Rider and he, along with his girlfriend, are ‘famous’ YouTube vegans. I recently watched one of their videos and was appalled by what I saw – in the only video I did watch, basically he celebrated that they were better for being vegans, filmed how hot (note: new word for ‘skinny’, it seems – not a dig at her, it’s just what he seemed to keep repeating that she was so skinny and hot and vegans are skinny and hot). He also mentioned how much money they made on their YouTube videos. I mean, he tried to make it seem like Australian money looked ‘funny’, but it was basically him stating this over and over while showing all the many hundreds he had made because of people watching his videos.
It was at that moment I refused to watch anymore of his videos – I did not want him gaining any more money just to research a man who is clearly a wanker.
Anyway, I digress. Back to my original point (now that you have an overview of this charming and delightful man).
Rider used his ‘celebrity’ status to degrade, humiliate and blame this poor woman. He referred to her as a ‘stupid bitch’ because she deserved what had happened to her for not leaving sooner.
This confused me immensely as, to me, it actually seemed like the woman was trying to leave. I mean, she called the police to file a domestic violence report and they failed her – not the other way round.
However, when reporter Clementine Ford broke this story (she was not alone in this), Durian Rider went one step further (as opposed to just abusing a victim even more).
He created a fake Facebook profile as a woman to join female-only private vegan groups as he wanted to see what women, in particular, had to say about him (seriously getting the vibe that this guy is a sexist, misogynistic prick as he did not do this to any men).
He gathered private and emotional information about these women. He gained access to their personal Facebook profiles.
And then, in another YouTube video, he posted all these private and personal details online to exact revenge.
He also encouraged others to taunt, mock, abuse, harass, and insult these women.
Firstly, this behaviour is not okay. It is never okay to create a fake profile to gain the trust of someone and publicly use it against them. (Personally, I don’t think it’s okay to create a fake profile for any reason … but different story.)
Durian Rider is clearly a despicable human being (and I don’t say that often).
Secondly, why do people ask, “Why didn’t she leave?”
The question we should be asking is, “Why did he think it was okay to hit her?”
There are so many reasons why women don’t leave (I imagine many of these would apply to men, as well). Please take note of these reasons:
- Like me, they are unaware that they are even in an abusive relationship.
- They are afraid to leave. While there’s a good chance that they will eventually be killed by their partner if they stay, violence always escalates and the victim is often in more danger if and when she does leave.
- Financial reasons. The best abusers make sure you’re completely dependent on them, in every way, before they show their true colours. It makes it hard to leave if you have no money.
- Children can be a motivator to stay, but it can also be one to leave. However, that means family courts and maybe you don’t get your children – it also makes divorce and getting AVOs far more complicated.
- They have nowhere to go. Some people are so isolated that they don’t have friends or family to turn to.
- They genuinely love their partner, and for some time, genuinely believe that they will change. Movies and novels like Fifty Shades of Grey don’t help to abolish this myth, either.
- How could this happen to me?
- Will anyone believe me? What if things get worse? What if the courts don’t believe me?
- Family, community or religious organisations might be convincing them to stay (for various reasons).
I’m sure there’s countless more reasons why – both men and women – don’t leave abusive relationships.
But one thing, regardless, should be made clear. Victim-blaming is not okay.
It’s fine if you don’t understand the situation – I didn’t until it was far too late.
Just don’t judge what you don’t understand – domestic violence is far more complicated than you could ever understand and each person’s experience – male, female, non-binary, transgender, gay or straight – is unique and different.
And each case needs to be treated as such – we don’t know the dynamics of that specific relationship or any religious or cultural backgrounds that may influence the victim.
Each case needs to be treated with respect, support and understanding. If you can’t do that, then you are part of the problem and may even be the reason why someone chooses to stay.
If you are worried that you yourself (or someone you know) is in an abusive relationship, here are some warning signs you need to be aware of:
- He or she will try to over-the-top romance you. They will be everything you’ve ever dreamed of. (This stereotype plays well into romance movies like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey.)
- He or she will want commitment – such as I love yous and lets move in together and marriage – often far quicker than you are ready to give. (My ex was furious when I didn’t say I love you at the one-month mark – he even told me I had to say it even though he knew I wouldn’t mean it, and at three months he started saying “I was the one” and he “couldn’t live without me”.
- He or she will isolate you from friends and family under the pretence of ‘but I just want you to myself because I love you so much’.
- Extreme jealousy and controlling behaviour.
- He or she will not take any responsibility for their actions and will always blame someone else – it is always someone else’s fault.
- Verbal, emotional or psychological abuse.
- Physical abuse.
- Violent mood swings – you become unsure what mood he or she will be in, and don’t know when or why their mood suddenly changes.
- He or she is extremely sensitive and you have to be careful with everything you say.
- He or she threatens violence – either against you, your pets, your loved ones or themselves (“I’ll kill myself if you leave”).
It’s really important that if you’re worried about being in abusive relationship (or someone you know – sometimes, like me they are unaware) you get help.
In Australia, call these hotlines: 13 11 14, 1800 RESPECT or 000 (if it’s an emergency).
For men specifically, in Australia: 1300 78 99 78