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  • Alison Hultqvist

Changing stories and making a difference

Intimate partner violence is so dangerous because it is personal. It is about hurting a person where it hurts the most. At best, being subjected to it is about living in constant stress. Often, it means living in constant fear. It is about control. Most people belive they would never let themselves be in such a relationship. Who would? But violent relationships don't start off violent.




Creating change in intimate partner violence

I have spent over thirty years working with intimate partner violence. I have worked at Non-governmental organizations, council, charity, government, and privately run organisations. A question I often get is: How can you do it? How can you stand hearing all these terrible stories over all these years? Yes, I have heard terrible stories and seen the effect of violence. How it spreads and infects everyone involved. The poisonous effect of violence within a close relationship don’t stay contained. It spreads like dark ink to the rest of the family, to the work place, to the kid’s school class; it affects us all. During my working life I have also been afflicted by the conflicts and consequences of domestic violence. What gives me energy is being a part in changing a story.

Another question I often get is why can’t they just leave, walk out? “I would.” And I think, would I? It takes amazing strength and determination to leave an abusive partner. For me it is easier to see how hard it is to leave. Without help you leave the day you reached your personal bottom line and have given up hoping. The violence has been normalised, not meaning one thinks its normal, just that it has slowly become part of everyday life. One has lived under extreme stress, experienced many potentially traumatising episodes, and spent months, years, of hoping things would get better and believing in the possibility of one’s abuser getting help and changing. Most of us believe that people can change. We all make mistakes. And we hope for change for the better. And yes, I also believe people can change. But they have to want to, and they have to take responsibility for their actions. A person won’t change if they don’t think they have done wrong.

Human rights 

There are countless hurdles to cross and negotiate but in the end, leaving is about human rights, dignity, survival and the wellbeing of children. We know that violence increases over time both in its frequency and severity. Reaching the decision to leave is huge and it can be dangerous. It is important to have the right help and information based on each individual’s own situation and circumstances. Over the years I have played a small part in many life changing stories. I have met countless amazing, resourceful and strong survivors. Changing stories is what gives me energy. The journey can be long or short, but it is about reclaiming your life, being able to feel safe, do your job, get in contact with you friends, getting support from your family, protecting your children, having peace of mind, sleep a whole night, taking care of your health, getting your economy in order, protecting your pet and more and more. But most of all, it is about surviving.

 

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