Last week as the latest COVID-19 restrictions were laid out, I felt strongly that I should help to the very best of my ability and volunteer during the lock down crisis in the U.K. I really want to do something meaningful and serve those that need help – particularly for victims of domestic abuse. I took advise and firstly gained my CRB certification, a slick process that was fast tracked (£80) and highly efficient with a surprising human management element! Thank you to the team involved – a world class service. Now I have the ‘Volunteers Passport.’
Secondly, where could I best support? As I thought about the intensity of the living arrangements right now, an ex-colleague suggested I read ‘Why does he do that?’ by Lundy Bancroft, before embarking on any quest to volunteer to support with domestic abuse and family violence. This blog is a short review of the impact that the book Gilly recommended has had on me; having never had experience of such abuse or read any other books on the subject. And an ask to all organisations: how can an untrained, willing woman help if at all at this time? Really would value your advice and help here – whatever it is!
A review: Why does he do that? Lundy Bancroft
I understand that this book which is written in very understandable terms, plain and clear language is one of the very few of its genre that attempts to unravel why mostly men enact unimaginable control through violence in their homes to their family members – particularly their female partner. Something that one can only believe is intensifying at this 24×7 incarceration lockdown.
Questions are asked and most powerfully answered: Why does he do that? What can I do to make him better? If I learn to be a better wife, maybe he won’t get so cross with me?. The book explains this and so much more.
The impact on me when reading the lengths we go to, to justify the horror that unfolds and repeats had me in tears and abject anger in the same 60 second cycle – it was breathtaking. I am a pretty assertive woman but as I began to put myself in the shoes of the victims, I could understand the circle of hell. It’s gut wrenching to imagine what this does to all aspects of one’s physical and mental wellbeing – it’s Family Chernobyl. And then the soul-destroying subterfuge of not telling anyone outside the vortex of hell, the truth. Making up such believable stories to explain what no one should have to lie about. To whom particularly in a time of intensified family lockdown does one turn to? Who can really help?
But the real power of this book, I think, is the fact that it gets to the central devastating unimpeachable point: Not a solution but maybe a breakthrough…abusive behaviour is a reflection of attitudes. No matter what the abuser has been through, abuse is totally and completely inexcusable. The bare truth that what they do is deliberate is the point that many reviewers I have read say changed the reviewer’s lives.
That the victims weren’t going to change things by being better or different themselves, that this was almost creating reinforcement scaffolding in the family for the abuser BUT this revelation encouraged many I read about to seek a different course of action – often very difficult in itself, but stepping out of the vortex and into a more proactive place.
An extraordinary book likely to be very important at this family lockdown time. As I mentioned earlier: How do we best help women and families at this time? How can I best help? I would really value your advice here. Please reach out to me in the comments or personally. Thank you for reading – Harriet.