The interwebnet of things and Twitterworld have been full this week of an image of a dress. Not just any dress, but the dress, or rather #TheDress to be correct. Did you see a Black and Blue dress or a White and Gold one ? (I saw white and gold by the way).
It’s all something to do with our eyes and ability to see different colours – all very technical but either way, a light hearted demonstration of peoples perception of colours and the light spectrum.
The Salvation Army in South Africa however, has spun all this frivolity into a new, somewhat darker, but far more important and far reaching attempt to encourage people to improve their vision of colours, specifically the black and blue shades referred to by #TheDress.
Fellow blogger, survivor of and campaigner for Domestic Violence awareness and support here in the UK @SammieB1980 has, like me, picked up on these new images, and Sam has written her own blog detailing her thoughts on the question ‘Why is it so hard to see black and blue ?’
I have reproduced Sam’s blog below. Long time readers of my blog may recall I posted my own blog talking about Sam and her efforts some three years ago now, back in 2012 – you can read my blog about Sam and her victim support group Survivors of Domestic Abuse here.
The answer, by the way, may be found in the second of Salvation Army South Africa’s posters:
Sam’s Blog Post:
A powerful image but just the tip of the iceberg for many that suffer coercive control and domestic abuse on a daily basis. It’s not just about a punch, slap or kick it’s about all that she has had to endure to even get those marks. Verbal abuse, verbal threats to kill, manipulation, isolation, possessiveness, control, intimidation – not just once but every single day.
Perpetrators will do anything and everything they can to gain and maintain power and control over the victim yet society finds it so hard to see black and blue.
- Society chooses to ignore it
- It’s the victims fault
- It’s a one-off
- She shouldn’t have said/done something to provoke the perpetrator
- Society doesn’t understand the cycle
- It’s seen as normal behaviour in relationships
- If it was that bad, she would leave
- She deserves it
- But he seems such a caring partner, not a controlling perpetrator
- He must have had a bad day/poor upbringing/bad relationship
Ignorance to such a horrific crime and that’s what domestic abuse is, a crime, not care and love but power and control contributes to perpetrators being allowed and getting away with doing this – to the person they claim to love.
Domestic abuse isn’t just black and blue, a victim goes through so much more before getting to this point. The complex cycle starts with isolation, control, manipulation before a hand is raised.
Domestic abuse isn’t an illusion, it is happening in the here and now, with the Police receiving one call every 60 seconds relating to domestic abuse, that is how real this epidemic is, destroying lives, ripping families apart, killing victims and this image portrays the true impact of the physical side of this crime.
Society will be looking at this image but somehow subconsciously looking past the bruises and being judgmental toward why she got these bruises rather than judging the perpetrator on their behaviour. There is never an excuse for abuse. Ever. But we are still hearing society with their judgmental attitude thinking and believe a victim “asks” to be abused rather than seeing it from the true perspective of a perpetrator choosing to abuse.
It is so hard to see black and blue because judgement clouds our vision, lack of awareness, education, training and understanding leads us to believe that this is completely the victims fault, that they deserve it and it’s not all that bad because if it was, they would just leave. It is so hard to see black and blue because domestic abuse is still often seen as a taboo subject that we feel is best dealt with if we sweep it under the carpet and pretend that it doesn’t even exist so then it might just magically disappear.
It is so hard to see black and blue because negative attitudes, funding cuts, no legal aid and closure of refuges make it impossible for victims to just leave, with trails of verbal death threats, harassment and stalking quickly following behind. It’s so hard to see black and blue because in today’s society this is seen as normal behaviour, something that is tolerated and part of a great deal of relationships today with perpetrators and victims getting younger and young.
It is so hard to see black and blue because of cultures attitude toward this complex cycle. So when you look at this picture, take a good look, soak up everything that surrounds it. The physical and psychological torture that the victim received, how the perpetrator made this her fault, how the perpetrator blamed her for his actions, how she would have to apologise for something she didn’t do wrong. How that this isn’t the end of the the abuse for her. How this is how victims live their life everyday, how they have to walk on eggshells so they “don’t do something wrong” to “deserve” this.
It’s so hard to see black and blue when we live in a society that doesn’t even want to admit, acknowledge or act upon that this even happens. With 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men becoming a victim of domestic abuse during their lifetime, it *is* happening, it *is* real and it *is* a crime.
If you are experiencing domestic abuse or know someone is, please report it.
No one deserves this treatment and no one asks to be treated this way.