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Domestic violence happens to someone else, doesn’t it?

It’s Monday and, as some of you will know, yesterday I blogged about gardening.

Such a mundane subject when, on the same day,  I read a blog from a friend talking about being a victim of domestic violence. Gardening seems such a trite thing to talk about in that context.

It was one of those blogs where you reflect on what you know of that person and you think ‘what? I’d never have thought it!’

Which just goes to show that domestic violence is no respecter of intelligence, personality or income. There may well be some evidence that if you’ve been brought up in a violent household, then you are more likely to be attracted to that kind of environment later. Work I’ve done around domestic violence murders, does seem to suggest this can be the case. But not having that kind of background, doesn’t mean you won’t be a victim of domestic violence.

I know this because I was a victim of it too. Not the ‘mysterious black eyes’ or facial bruises type. But the ‘you’re ugly’, ‘you’re fat’, ‘you’re stupid’, ‘you’re no good at anything’ type. All the signs were there at the beginning – but when they say love is blind, well it certainly was for me. This was one occasion in my life when I thought I’d got  it all. I finally got the good-looking guy, the man everyone wanted to go out with. He had piercing blue eyes, appeared successful and very attentive.

When I first met him, he ‘shared’ a flat with a woman who’d been his partner but they’d split up some time ago. I visited at his invitation and found, to my surprise, there was only one bedroom. But I conveniently overlooked this fact.

Then soon after, we were running to cross a wide road in Bath and I was accidentally left behind, a little slower than him and lost his hand. I laughingly crossed the road after him only to get a tirade of verbal abuse about how I’d humiliated and embarrassed him.

As I said, all the signs were there.

There then followed a roller coaster of two years of emotional abuse, interlaced with break-ups, reunions and the end period of living together. Along with the personal stuff (I was watched over all the time) there was the debt collectors and the lies, the money borrowed in my name and more which I just cannot go into here…

In the end it was a small thing which made me see the light. Something so small I can’t even remember what happened. I just walked out, called my parents, and asked for sanctuary. Luckily they agreed.

I’d made the mistake of agreeing to buy a house with this character – but luckily my name was on all the paperwork and I decided to go ahead on my own. A brave decision as I was responsible for a large loan, taken out without my permission and in my name, for motorbike parts, which I had to pay off for two years in order to not be blacklisted.

Once the relationship was over, I saw this man for what he was – a pathetic, sad little man, more pathetic than I had ever realised. I was stalked for six months, where he would turn up when I was out covering an event, he would call my parents and slag me off in terms no one wants their loved ones to hear, he would phone me at work especially if I was on a late shift. I always asked where my money was – he always said he’d pay with interest – I’m still waiting. That was over 20 years ago.

Frankly, it was cheap enough to get rid of that man. The experience taught me something important – I am deeply sensitive to any man who criticises me in a personal capacity when he barely knows me. Some short time after this relationship, I had a couple of dates with a man who told me he didn’t like my coat and thought I should get another – I never went out with him again.

I don’t judge anyone who puts up with dv for a period of time. It’s so easy to be blind – or to truly believe you can change someone or to be so downtrodden that you just cannot see a way out.

I also sometimes dream of that time and then wake up and feel a rush of relief that I’m not back there. I count myself lucky to have broken free and found someone I can be myself with  and not be fearful for my safety or sanity.

 

Fancy being a footballer’s girlfriend

Why do we care about footballers’ celebrity status and private lives so much?

Where are the millions of people who find this stuff interesting? They must be out there otherwise there’d be no commercial reason for chasing down this kind of information.

As a media person who finds this kind of personal information boring and of little interest, I do see it from a slightly different point of view.

I don’t find it boring because I’m trying to be too intelligent or anything highly moral. I have, in the past, looked into someone’s private life because I believe it serves the public interest to do so.
I’ve told a presenter to challenge a married MP on air about his love affair because it was directly affecting his work in his constituency. That was not pleasant, it felt uncomfortable but I could see the point. However, I’ve known several other MPs who’ve had extra-marital relationships but have considered it irrelevant to their professional standing.
Any journalist who works around politicians, celebrities or footballers knows far more than he/she will be in a position to publish.

footballer kicking a ball

I've interviewed many famous footballers

I’ve also interviewed footballers, some very well known, and have found no reason to talk to them about their private lives.
Frankly some of them might be able to kick a ball around and show astonishing talent on the pitch – but they can barely string two sentences together.

Some have been astonishingly rude – treating journalists who turn up week in, week out to watch often second-rate games with complete contempt. (A dangerous tactic to employ when you consider how quickly bad news becomes public).
Some have been so lecherous that it’s nauseating – I can think of one very famous former footballer who was well known for making a beeline for the young 20-somethings in the studio. He’s married.

But one thing that has astonished me about the football world is this – there are a group of women, often very beautiful and very intelligent, who follow footballers around trying hard to hook one. They form a kind of clique, football groupies, who will throw themselves at footballers at every opportunity. I’ve seen these women in action and it has always amazed me.

Why?

  • Is it the money?
  • The life-style?

Even if I’d had the looks, the body and the balls – I could never have been one of those women. There’s something so cheap and desperate about it.

If you’re the footballer, away from home, feeling down, had a row with the wife/girlfriend, feeling weak – these girls are waiting to pounce.

I’m not condoning any footballer being unfaithful to his wife/girlfriend but I do understand that temptation is thrust upon them in a way that us ordinary mortals can barely understand.
So although I think resorting to a super injunction is sheer cowardice (man up for goodness sake!) I do have some insight into how this kind of thing can happen.

Tip: Avoid being a football groupie, you’ll be given a fairly unpleasant label. As for the footballer, if you succumb to temptation, don’t blame the press, blame yourself and sort it out.

Fiona

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