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.
It’s with some pride that today I can shout about my new FAMILY column in the local weekly newspaper in Wiltshire. Rush out and buy it on Thursday! Or even better buy a subscription.
The Gazette & Herald, which covers Chippenham, Malmesbury, Devizes, Calne, Marlborough, Pewsey and all the villages in between, is sister paper to the Swindon Advertiser, the Wiltshire Times, Wiltshire Business and other publications.
My first Family pages for the Wiltshire Gazette & Herald on Thursday.
I’ll be writing about anything and everything which affects families and parents in these areas of Wiltshire, but I want to be interactive. I would welcome any suggestions for subject matter – both serious and more light-hearted. Interviews with people who live or work in the county are a key factor.
If you are a parent in Wiltshire who has had to grapple with difficult issues eg. domestic abuse, eating disorders, bereavement, obesity, mental health issues, bullying, caring, chronic illness, disability, debt, homelessness – please share your stories. What can others learn from your experience?
If you’ve got a consumer problem that you’ve been struggling with, I’ll try to help. Or if you are a parent who has achieved something amazing, let me know.
Sometimes I’ll be having a rant on something that’s annoyed me, there’ll be consumer items, guest blogs, and lots of mentions of social media. The more interactive the better. If you comment via letter, Twitter or Facebook, I may use those in the following week.
This is an adventure and I’d like you to join me – firstname.lastname@example.org
Today was sports day at my children’s school. It was a fun day and they did really well. I took some great pics and was all ready to publish them in action on Facebook – didn’t really think about it being a problem.
can we put sports' day photos on the internet? should we?
Then a text arrived which stated that no photos could be put on to the internet at all.
This immediately raised my heckles. How dare anyone tell me not to publish photographs that I had taken of my children with my camera! Angry I fumed on Facebook.
I checked up with the Information Commission’s website which suggests that some schools do go too far – saying parents cannot video or photograph children taking part in school events and that’s not in the spirit of Data Protection.
Schools, it said, should not hide behind this as it does not cover photography for private use.
But what is private use? As far as I can see it doesn’t say ‘don’t put these photographs on the internet’ – though education guidance does say that.
Schools get very upset with mums like me. I do question things which seem to invade my freedom. Just because a headteacher says it is so – is it? just because a lawyer says it is so – is it? Why should we just say ‘yes miss, no miss’ when we’re adults?
I’ve filmed a lot in schools and the permission process is extremely rigorous – rightly so. I’ve often had to film around one or two children whose images cannot be shown and that’s fine. Some children need to be protected for clear, identifiable reasons.
I took the opportunity to talk to some other mums. One, a teacher, said she was happy and gave the impression that I was being like a stubborn child not to bow to this edict about personal sports day photos.
‘We are lucky,’ she said ‘that the school allows us to take pictures’.
Another mum said she could see both sides – there are several children in the school who cannot be filmed/photographed for their own protection. This I do get.
Using a photograph of your child, with someone who needs to be protected in the background, and should not be shown – well, I can see the logic in that.
However if I can crop the pictures and just show my children I can see nothing wrong with that decision as a parent, if I wish to publish. Of course, I do ask my children’s permission as they are old enough to be consulted about such things.
Of course all of this caution is often about protecting children from child sex offenders – who find the internet a fantastic place to hunt and hide in secret.
But does that mean that we have to abandon common sense and never put any photographs of our children on the net? Are we allowing these individuals (and there are more than most people think) to rule our freedom online? Should we?
My gut feeling is no. Why should we? Provided we do not reveal too much personal information, should we be that paranoid? Isn’t that giving these people more power?
And then a friend sent me a personal message. This friend reminded me that a former colleague is currently awaiting trial on various charges of child abuse including rape – someone that we were both connected to on the internet.
It brought me up short. This friend had had more contact with this man – but even the thought that someone could be looking at my children from afar and thinking vile thoughts was awful.
I‘d allowed this individual to enter my internet world – this was someone I’d known in ‘real’ life and hadn’t thought twice about connecting with.
I cannot pass comment on this individual as he’s innocent until proved guilty. However this friend has now removed all photographs of her children from the internet as she’s so shocked at this turn of events.
What have I concluded? Truth, I still feel uncomfortable about being told what to do with my own photographs.
I’m happy to not show others when I don’t have their permission to publish but I don’t want my natural actions restricted by the phantoms of gross human beings who want to prey on children for sexual gratification.
I do feel that there will come a time when social media sites will have to be both public and personal – it will be interesting
to see how these definitions evolve over time.
What do you think?