LETTER: What about older victims of domestic violence?

I NOTE that for a while now there has been an effort to raise awareness about elder abuse.

But what about those of us in our 50s and over who are victims of domestic violence?

We tend to only hear about young women and children who have been killed by their husbands or partners, but what about the many of us who have stayed in abusive relationships perhaps "for the sake of the children", and are now too browbeaten to get out of a miserable relationship?

Perhaps we feel too ashamed to ask for help "at our age".

Or we don't even know that our relationship is now considered by law to be abusive, if our husbands/wives control all aspects of our lives and are constantly belittling us with snide remarks.

Because emotional/ relational abuse can be worse than the physical. It can paralyse you.

I was married for three years to a man who was physically abusive, but it was what he said to me over that time that can still affect me today - and this year I turn 60.

While I had several university qualifications when I first met my husband, it only took two months after the wedding for my self-esteem to start to go down the gurgler.

If you are told often enough that you are stupid, useless, ugly, fat "and what other man would put up with you?", you begin to believe it.

Before long you are convinced that when he can't find his car keys or his comb, it is your fault. You must have moved them, and so the apologising begins.

It is a form of hypervigilance, where you are not just very jumpy if somebody drops a plate, but you are terrified at the prospect of somebody's rage where poisonous words are screamed into your face.

Further, years later, you still find yourself apologising for existing. Don't forget that on top of being stupid, ugly, incompetent, and fat you're labelled "selfish" day after day.

Numerous years ago when addressing a group about domestic violence I was introduced to a woman in her 40's . Her body was twisted and she had to use a walking frame. She also needed to be fed and toileted.

I was horrified to discover this once brilliant orthopaedic surgeon was suffering from Conversion disorder as a result of an emotionally abusive marriage - "only".

Anybody reading this who is in a relationship with a man/woman who delights in constantly belittling you, pouring scorn all over your ideas, stifling any joy you once felt, you are a victim of domestic violence.

Today, this means you can apply for an AVO.

It is never too late to find and enjoy peace, quiet and harmony.

Do not feel that you are deserting your partner.

Do not think that you will "shock" the children. They are well aware of how you have been maltreated by their Dad/Mum. Indeed, you will earn their respect and be an important role model for them so that they don't follow in your footsteps.

It is never too late to find happiness.

Name supplied

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