Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Ethical porn - where women are a bit like carrots, cars or beer. Just don't mention their vagina.

A friend called me on Monday night and said...

"I am going to ruin your entire Tuesday. You're welcome. Sleep well."

Well .. he didn't. He just said ..."I'm listening to a debate on ethical porn on Radio 4. You should listen."

Friends eh? Sometimes they're like monkeys on crack with guns. Only less loveable.

Here's the link if you're interested. I suggest you snort a bowl of asbestos instead and pretend Radio 4 died.

Introduced by a young journalist named Nichi Hodgson was the ridiculous notion that the porn industry can be all smoothed out by a few rules and regs and that all the lovely amenable porn magnates will just sign right up for it. Nichi likes to ignore double anal penetration, throttling and gagging and prefers to promote an acceptable fluffy bit of "ethical" porn where pretty, hippy couples named something like Sven and Sveness lick each other senseless on scatter cushions whilst planning a weekend in Scarborough. Or something. I genuinely couldn't decipher what exactly Nichi thinks "ethical porn" is and what it isn't. Because really... whatever is going on in Nichi World is like a consensual fumble in the broom cupboard at Hogwarts whilst the Armageddon of the real porn war rages outside and saying.... "Look though. Look how cool we are here amidst the mops and the Mister Sheen. This can't be too bad. Why don't you all come and watch? That'll make it ok. It WILL!"

I don't think the throbbing big boys who thrive on multi-million pound empires shaping our young children to the point where they no longer even feel each other's bodies as they act out their PornTubeRedHub sex on each other really care what Nichi is doing in her health and safety sex cupboard as long as she legitimises their bit and they get to keep throwing sex grenades at women and children without anyone stopping them.

Dr Gail Dines admirably, calmly and brilliantly pointed this out (as she does every time). I wish Gail Dines was the voice over to every porn film ever. Just gently and huskily pointing out that you have no real right to be watching a woman dehumanised and reduced to a variety of available fuck holes.

This morning I voiced my dissent. It always feels like you are holding your hand up to the incoming tide of the North Sea when you say "Nuh huh. Nope. Porn is bad for women. Something that encourages men to scream vile names at a woman whilst they squirt semen in her eyes and she cries.... that isn't good for women. That's really quite bad for women actually. It's probably bad for the men who are watching it if we really think about it." ... well saying that really quite obvious stuff brings all the cool young folk to your yard.

I soon found @Seanchuckle keen to tell me the porn was ok. I'm wrong he thinks. I'm all kinds of wrong about porn.

Sean is Sean Biggerstaff (verified with a blue Twitter tick sign dontcha know... played Oliver Wood in Harry Potter apparently... yeah ... don't worry... I don't know either and I've seen Harry Potter.... must have been one of the ones who died quickly. Probably from wanking off his wand.).

Sean was very keen to *sigh* at me for not liking porn and for me saying that he was bound to say that because he was a man. Poor men. They just can't catch a break at being able to express themselves without a woman not listening because they are male. Being silenced and ignored is a pain. Women today eh? If only there was some sort of movement men could join to fight their oppression.

I think Sean is a mate of Nichi. Sean pointed out that he wanted more orgasms.

Does that exclude the woman who has been penetrated painfully for 8 hours in various uncomfortable positions whilst not being fed or paid appropriately? Does she get hers? Does she even want one anymore?

I like sex. I like orgasms. I like being asked how I would like to have one and when. I like someone to care that I have one. I like to care that they do. I like the feel of the body of the person I'm having sex with and I like to look in their eyes. I am not a "prude". I am not "shrivelled up". I am not against other people enjoying sex. All of those are common accusations when you say you object to porn. It's like saying you object to sex. That is a ludicrous jump made only to discredit objectors to male violence.

Actually I am saying I object to an industry where women are sexually exploited and degraded by sex that is not sensual, free from violence and misogyny or consensual. A massive power imbalance, politically and economically, between the owner/producer and the purchased "raw material" they transform into "finished product" ensures that it can never be fully consensual.  When the images of these women are fed to men who see them as a product and subsequently transfer that right to commodify the body of female humans onto the women they encounter in real life, then the whole sexual experience has been changed by an economic and mental transaction. You cannot bring a new product to market ..."ethical porn" ...and expect that the other product will be replaced or become of higher quality simply because yours is there morally guiding the other producer. This is naive bullshit at best and wilful participation in legitimising continued exploitation of women at the other end of bad.

Back to some of the rather astounding comments by Nichi and her sidekick Sean of The Dead (hand).

Nichi offered this....

I don't think the porn industry gives a fuck about you. I don't think they are waiting for you to adopt them and make them moral. I really don't. I think they are laughing their raw cocks off at you.

I thought the difference between vaginas and carrots was obvious but the porn defenders love a good analogy. Anything that doesn't mention an anus or a vagina or a mouth. These are the actual things that have a cock shoved in them over and over again. Usually accompanied by a tirade of misogynistic abuse and sometimes accompanied by the cock of a misogynist friend or two. Sometimes in the same orifice at the same time.

Women can also be compared to beer...

I had suggested that we don't need to see a woman sexually brutalised for the enjoyment of others and wondered why that need and "right" was not allowed to be challenged. That makes me "judgey"? Well Ok. I will judge the shit out of people who do need to see that. Why would you need to see a woman harmed to achieve sexual climax? How did you get to that stage?

Women can be compared to cars too.

I suggested a solution to the brutal porn industry would be to lower demand....

Sean found this mind-blowing. It was like saving the planet or something crazy like that!! So.... y'know.... look away from the vaginas.... cars... look at them!

Nichi was a totally different case. I think Nichi is made entirely of feathers and bunny fur. Life with porn is just like playing with Kool and The Gang. We radical feminists just need to start dancing along.... Celebrate good times.... don't think of the dick tearing up your arse as you start to sing....

Nichi got a bit evangelical. Selectively. I'm not sure what she wants to do with the "other" bits of the porn industry. Presumably those exploited women will just "manage" with all the violence sex and exploitation. The rest of us will be just fine with having ourselves represented as objects for male violence masquerading as "enjoyable" sex. 
I got bored of Nichi. She didn't seem to keep up with the conversation terribly well and pointed out an analogy that wasn't mine was inaccurate. I pointed out it wasn't mine. Nichi didn't celebrate or even acknowledge this. She must have been having an ethical wank. With fairy lights and glitter.

She knows a LOT about vaginas though....I could learn a thing or nothing (more likely) from Nichi.

But I must ask.... really... help me out.... what on earth is Nichi trying to say here... that vaginas are big people. Drunk people. Whole drunk people. Oh Nichi. Go and play with your nipple tassels quietly with Sven whilst the rest of us fight a massive, violent industry harming women on a huge scale both within it and outside it.

Meanwhile today.... over on Planet Nichi.. she seems to have forgotten journalism in favour of ... well... this.... twitter pimping?

Ethical Porn is nonsense. It cannot be divorced from the vile and violent porn industry as a whole. The industry would swallow it, use it and march ever further towards a point where violent sex is increasingly normalised. I don't want that for me, or my daughters or any of us.

I wear pyjamas. £300 for me in pyjamas with a tantalising book anyone? Nah.... for free.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Black Dot Campaign.

I seem to have missed most of this terrible idea and I'm glad I did. I think it might have thrown me off track on a busy week.

Firstly, I feel a little bit sorry for the woman who created it. Let's not forget she is (or seems to be) a survivor. For that we should be gentle in our criticism because she will have had good reasons for trying to help others. Probably. I hope. Please don't let it turn out to be an abusive man.

This was a terrible idea for all the reasons that people have already stated. I won't repeat them. Women sharing their stories on social media may have put themselves at risk. Women using the mark... likewise.

I'll just add my brief thoughts based on my experience.

I was pointed in the direction of domestic violence services by a woman who clearly saw that I was being abused when I could not. I thank that woman. I thank her for the push. It was not always gentle. It was not always patient. It was not always quite right. However, she saved my life. The manner doesn't matter any more. Thank you.

When people look at me incredulously now and say "Shit. You were in that for a long time. Why didn't you know?" The truth is. I just didn't. It is hard to admit feeling stupid and I do feel stupid. There was so much out there to help me but I never saw it. I'm not stupid. Men have built clever walls between abused women and the women they need. People almost don't believe me when I say I knew nothing. How can I write as I do about abuse and so recently have been unable to spot what was happening to me?

You can be clever and capable and functioning and smiling and talking tough and dealing fast. You can be horribly abused at the same time. If there is such a thing as a "high-functioning victim" I suppose you can be that. I kept everything running. I kept myself on top. I worked. I parented. I partied. I wrote. I studied. I kept the fuck breathing. Because otherwise you die or go insane.

Why didn't I tell people? Because they already knew. I didn't need a dot on my hand. There were people around who knew all along. They assumed I was making choices. I'm good at making myself sound in control. I'm good at the whiplash wisecrack that covers up the inside splintering.

One woman years ago who knew... she advised me to stay. She said it couldn't be that bad and what might be the alternative could be very much worse. I listened. I stayed. I respected her. Another woman said "Don't tell me. I don't want to know. I like him." I was shocked by that for a long time and kept my stuff to myself. Whenever I stayed, for whatever the reason at that time, the other people around me sighed and moved away a bit. Putting a dot on my hand would not have helped.

In reality. I could have put that dot on in the morning but I'd have washed it off by noon as things started to feel better again. When I began to cope and he perhaps began to behave or apologise or make amends in some way. When some of my hope grew back the black dot on my brain rubbed off all by itself. So I thought. It never really does of course. My brain still has stains.

I think I would have been the Lady Macbeth of the Black Dot movement. Constantly trying to scrub off evidence that I'd tried to escape. Mostly scrubbing it off so that I didn't remember. My abuse was accompanied by amnesia. I seemed to purposely forget. The woman who helped me leave often said "write it down..." but I would start to do it and then stop. Something in me didn't want to stockpile the horror. Sometimes now I have a little flashback of a moment and it jolts me. Some incident that I haven't thought about for a long time and I think how totally bizarre that thing is and if a woman told me that story now I would be sitting her down for a long talk. I'd be doing the shoving and pushing as hard as I could. I understand Susan Brownmiller's frustration around victims for which she was so horribly attacked. I understand why she wants to scream "GET OUT!" at abused women. It isn't victim-blaming. It is anger. Anger that after all this time there are still women that are trapped. All kinds of women who cannot find their way to decent services no matter how hard those services are fighting to get to them. Brownmiller's anger is not at the women... it's at the men. It's at the system.

Marking yourself with a black dot is not the way. You don't need to brand yourself. Women who can help need to get to women who need helping. Women need to drag those women out of hell. By education, by being loud, by blogging and tweeting and campaigning and marching and petitioning and just shouting so loud in any way we can so that those women hear..... "GET OUT!"  So that the women can see the signposts to the path they need. It isn't a gimmick they need. It isn't a "secret" badge of biro that might mark them out for further and dangerously targeted abuse.

We have services. Fine women are working in those services and the black dot campaign seems to be suggesting that those women aren't doing it right. They are. When women are ready those are the services they should use. Those are the services that will give them the advice they need to get out safely. To get out ALIVE.

How we get those women to those services and how we make sure those services are properly resourced, funded and protected needs to be the priority. We don't need women putting themselves at risk by "sharing" in a campaign that is not properly co-ordinated by women with years of experience.

Thank you to all the women who work for women like me. I hope many more women find their way to you today.

Best wishes women,

JH x

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Two women walked into a bar.... not a joke.

I went to a bar last night with a friend. We sat quietly and drank a couple of glasses of wine. We had a chat and were not interrupted once and then we went home.

That doesn't work though does it? Todorov's narrative theory says a disequilibrium must be introduced to make these events into a conventional narrative. Finally the equilibrium must be restored.

Ok then. Let's jazz up this wanker.

I went to a bar and tried to drink a quiet glass of wine and talk to a female friend. Then a man came up and ruined it by making old school sexist comments. Then another man came up and ruined it a bit more by laughing at the first man. There was a short period where I wanted to boil the first man's head down into broth, but then I would have gone to jail. So I restored the equilibrium by going home and leaving all the men who needed to be horribly maimed in a bizarre hot soup accident, in the bar.

Sub-plot. Two younger women, who were very beautiful indeed, stood next to my table attempting to take a selfie of their gorgeousness. I leaned over and asked if they would like me to take it. One of them handed the phone over gratefully and they began to pose. They looked lovely. Then a man leaned in and tried to get in the shot by holding his head very close to the breasts of one of the women. I told him to fuck off. He looked shocked and retreated. Another man leaned over me and held a menu in front of the camera and jeered at the women. I stepped back accidentally and he withered away. Then "breast" man returned and plonked himself between the two women and parted them a little, grinning, whilst his "back-up" friend who had come to see what was happening leered at the women's breasts. I told them both to fuck right off. The women looked very uncomfortable when the men approached. But they carried on smiling and posing. I took the photo many times and not once did it not have a man imposing himself on their shot. They didn't want men in their camera roll. Just a nice picture of themselves in pretty dresses. Incidentally all the men involved had faces like  bags of frogs, were at least 15 years older than the women and had questionable blood pressure and the beginning of early onset incontinence issues. The women deserved better quality of both men and behaviour. Women often do.

The "menu" man then decided he needed to apologise. He approached me by grabbing my arm and waving the menu to identify himself.  He said he was sorry if he'd offended me. I said "You were a bit annoying but now that you have your hand on my arm I would like you to take it off and leave me alone."

Menu man didn't like this.

"No. You don't understand. I'm trying to apologise. I was just having a laugh."

I looked at his hand which he had now placed on my shoulder. I told him firmly to take his hands off me.

He didn't.

I removed his hand and turned back to my friend.

He put his hand back on my shoulder.

I turned around and told him very firmly to take his hands off me.

Predictably I was informed I had no sense of humour. I had no sense of humour at this point. I looked him in the face and told him so.

He said... "You're a right fucking witch aren't you?"

With no desire to add plot details that aren't true.... this actually happened ...... at that very moment, right at the side of him on my table, where he had placed it in order to put his hands on my shoulder, his pint glass shattered into tiny pieces. It actually exploded. Neither of us was touching it.

The man looked very shocked.

I laughed and informed him.... "Yes. I am a witch. Next time that will be your bollocks."

Sometimes.... life is a story that just keeps giving.

Happy Saturday women.

JH x

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Too bloody much..... women who don't fit.

Richard Burton once said of Elizabeth Taylor.... 

"She was a dark, unyielding largesse. In short, she was too bloody much"

The dilemma for women is to be "enough" but not "too much" then?

Burton said this in an adoring way and no doubt because he loved her. Though what kind of comment is that? She was "too much"?

I am thinking of the way that women are eternally judged. We can definitely be "too happy" and men are keen to suggest by this that we are perhaps too frivolous or maybe even stupid...facile .... we should calm down and wise up. We might be thought mad if we go around smiling too much. Especially on the street. Women who smile on the street are scary to men. Can't have women going about smiling all over the bloody place.

Men like to tell women to "cheer up" or "smile" though.  Women need to be happy ENOUGH. Just not TOO happy. Gotcha. We need to smile more. Not on our own though and not without being told or guided into it.

Then we can look at weight. I was very overweight in my marriage. Massive. Ridiculous. It was a real problem for my ex. I really needed to "lose a bit". Then when I left him I lost a "lot" of weight and then I became "too thin". He made sure he told me this. The difference between "massive" me and "wasting away" me was around 5lbs. I'm not sure within that tolerance where I was "just right". I'm not Goldilocks. I also don't have the Big Book of Man Standards. There must have been some point somewhere when I ate a bowl of chips and tipped right over into being a "fatso" and then I forgot to eat a Kit Kat a bit later and suddenly landed smack  in the middle "Jesus Love... eat a pie for the love of God!" territory.

My BMI is 19.3 which is healthy and it has gone as high as 21.4 which is healthy. So I have always been .....healthy. Good to know. So not "too much" then.

Women who are "too much" don't have enough sex either. We need some pills to make us sort that out. Addyi has been approved by the Pharma boys and packaged up nice and pink so we can "spread em" a bit more often and not upset Relate either who seemed to welcome the prospect of us all having a bit more sex. Listen up too because all of we women need to have more sex (with men of course...) because if not we may have.....

Oh dear. That sounds terrible. That sounds almost like a medical thing that needs a medical solution and not a woman who knows her own damn mind and doesn't want to have sex with a man. Those "relationship problems and distress" ... where do they come from then? Does the woman spend time (in her kitchen naturally ...) thinking "Oh dear me... if only I could have a massive orgasm before the ironing I could stop burning my hand whilst distracted by all the sex I'm not having. So distressing. " Or... is it the constant nagging by a man she may not fancy having sex with, to have sex she doesn't really want? Now that can be distressing. It can even be coercive. It can even be rape. "Other people do it far more than us! You may cause me to look elsewhere if you aren't careful. The average is 2.5 times a week. I can't concentrate on my work as I'm sexually frustrated. Men need sex more than women because our ball bags just explode if not!" Personally I would like to gather a weighty number of sexually frustrated, heavily ball-bagged men in a field for a controlled explosion of ball bags. It could be like Bonfire Night. With sperm.

But.... years ago a woman who wanted "too much" sex was problematic. Very. She might need to be locked up. In an attic or something. She was bonkers. Off her head. Her husband's ball bag was perfectly spot on of course.

Anyway. I do have enough sex. For me. I know that because I ask myself if I want the consensual sex which presents itself and then I do or don't consent to it. No pills involved.

And of course we can be "too clever". This starts happening from a very young age. We start strutting our clever all over the place at school and we are geeks. We won't "get laid". (Men do all the gifting of their sex to us. You knew that of course?) We won't have the problem of exploding ball bags because we won't be getting near them *sad face*.  Many men ... when they've worked their way through the "thick slags" ...later state a desire for a woman who is "smart and challenges me". Yeah. Don't do that though. They hate it really. They may just crack you in the mouth for it. "Don't get clever with me..." "You think you're so fuckin clever don't you...?"

What is the level of "just right" clever? The level where you don't get to quite a high enough position in the same institution/employment as a man so that you earn the same? That level? Shall we stop there then? Because men will perhaps bully a clever woman back down the ladder she's climbing with a bit of sexual harassment. Or make sure she never sees the ladder to get a foot on.
You don't like a fat man in his bathrobe? Now that isn't clever. Starbucks for you *my* beauty.

I've a degree and I fancy another one whenever I can. If I could afford it I'd do nothing but study. I don't think I'd ever get "too clever". For me. I'd be quite proud of every bit of extra clever I gained. I admire all the women with all their smarts and my word there are some bloody clever women out there. Being ignored. Not getting published or promoted. They are "getting laid" though. Or as women prefer to call it .... "having sex". They are part of the act. Participant not object.  They are clever enough to decide who with and when too. Nice one clever women.

So I will spend the day knowing that I'm not too fat, or too thin, or too clever, or too daft, or too horny or too frigid, or too happy or too sad. Or just too sick of the world which really is too much sometimes. The way it treats good women. That is too much. For the right partner..... I would never be "too bloody much".

If "Daddy Bear" shows up I will tell him.

I am just fucking right.

Women.... go out and be just as much as you feel like.

Happy Sunday.

Love JH x

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Financial Violence In Abusive Relationships.... (non-party-political and clean version)

(Since not all women share the same politics or a love of swearing.... I thought a cleaner version of this might be worthwhile that it is more accessible. The original is in the post below)

A friend of mine has been divorced for over 10 years from a man who terrorised her from the day they married.

He still makes her life hell and they have very little contact.

This is what he has left to break her with....Money. He has it. She does not. He withholds what she should have. She suffers. He enjoys. He withholds money for his children. His children suffer. He enjoys. Every year she endures a life of austerity imposed by him ...he gets richer and he enjoys her poverty. He still owns a stake in her house... which he will eventually demand and effectively make her homeless because she cannot afford to buy him out. No doubt even then he will find a way to continue his abuse.

She didn't know what financial violence was. It is a key feature of many domestically violent and/or abusive relationships. These are some of the forms it can take. (Before a Twitter shitstorm blows in...I'm no expert. I have pieced this together from listening to women and from experience ... feel free to offer criticism and amend or write a response piece... as long as we discuss this and let women know it happens...?)

1. Controlling money within the relationship. Saying what can and can't be bought. Dominating accounts. Preventing the woman from having access to her own money or any joint funds. Criticising any purchases she does make. Making her feel guilty for any spending.

2. Preventing a woman from working and earning her own finances or taking those finances once they are earned.

3. Spending joint finances frivolously in order to keep the family ... in particular the woman... poor and unable to leave. Sometimes deliberately accruing debts.

4. Making the woman feel totally dependent - particularly if he works. If she is at home raising children he will make her feel economically worthless. If she works but earns less he will make her feel economically worthless. Making a woman feel economically worthless makes her terrified too... especially if she has children. It's effective.

5. If a woman tries to work in order to find funds to escape the abusive marriage he may sabotage this.. saying she does not need to work or physically preventing her. Damaging an abused woman's prospects is easy if you physically/mentally harm her so that work is nearly impossible in any kind of capable way.

6. Emotional abuse before and after and even during working hours is common. A phone call or well-placed text can reduce a competent working woman to her knees at an opportune moment. Over time.. this will impact on her career or end it. Many women struggle to work whilst in an abusive relationship for this reason. Physical abuse can obviously make a woman unfit to attend work.

7. Education.... preventing a woman from educating herself in order to gain employment or gain better that she can escape an abusive relationship. (Often linked with telling her she is too stupid to succeed of course)

8. Rape and coercive sex - rendering a woman unfit for work and the ability to work keep her from financial independence by sexually abusing and manipulating her.

9. When a woman considers leaving she must consider the following.... she may need to leave in a hurry and with nothing other than her children, important documents and a few belongings she can carry. She is leaving into a very frightening unknown often and it is usually when she feels least strong and she is most under threat.

She should never be judged for staying. Never. She should never be judged if she goes back. Ever.

When a woman considers this terrifying end prospect at the possible exit of an abusive relationship she has had to look at the very dark future. She has had to look round at what material comforts she and her children have and know that they will be gone. Some of the things she loves will be gone. Some of the things that have on occasion been the only things grounding her will be gone. She realises that when she leaves she will have to fend for herself and as an abused woman she has been taught by him that she is not able to cope or fend for herself. She fears poverty. She fears homelessness. She fears mental health problems. She fears everything about a life on her own. She may also feel angry. Why should she give up her established life and all she has worked for and lived through and endured. It is hers as much as his. She feels angry for her children and she feels guilty. Why should they have less? Should she disadvantage them? Is it right for her to do so? Remember she is not always convinced that she is abused since he tells her she is not and that she is to blame for his treatment of her. She is selfish if she leaves ...he has assured her of this. She possibly also still loves him and fears a life on her own because she might be lonely (this one will definitely pass the fastest sisters).

She may be the one with money. He will threaten to take it from her if she leaves. Possibly by taking the children and lying about her to obtain custody. The threats themselves are the essence of the financial violence. She may not be reduced to the poverty of many women exiting violent relationships but the financial threats are still the element of abuse that harm her. The terror of a financially violent threat crosses class boundaries and bank account levels.

Women suffering any of this. You are not selfish. You are not guilty. You are not on your own. You are not mad or horrible or unlovable or worthless or stupid or weak or any of the things he is saying.

This is how it works for women. Having children makes you economically weak. Emotionally wealthy often... but economically weak. Abusive men know this. They use it to their advantage at all points in their abuse. Know that when you feel scared it is not because there are things to fear without him but because there are things you fear because of him.

10. Once a woman leaves... he has lost some power. He may still be able to threaten her physically and he will certainly do it mentally - those scars may never heal and are easily opened into fresh wounds. Financial violence for these men is never ending potentially. If there is any reliance on funds from an abusive man....and clearly if a woman has had his children then this is the case.... then he still has a route to abusive power over her.

He can manipulate what he gives her; how he gives it to her and when. She no longer has the automatic support of the CSA. She must pay to access this or go through some sort of "mediation" and "agreement" process..... terms which make an abused woman either snort in derision or scream in terror depending on how long since they exited the relationship. This is handing access to the abused woman back over to an abusive man. If she refuses this then she must pay for the privilege of using the CSA service.

This can happen many times over whenever he decides to behave poorly over payments. He will probably do this often. A man who enjoys power.... why on Earth would he NOT do this to harm a woman he can no longer harm in other ways?

11. He may use any opportunity he can to make threats to leave her financially vulnerable. He may lose his job, he may hide funds, he will do anything in his power to take money away that he knows she needs or will randomly threaten to do so.

12. When things get legal .... he will make continuous threats. A woman who has believed his financial ability (and he will have convinced her she is not good with finances) will believe the threats. She may settle for less than she should. She may be convinced there is nothing to have. Or that she is not entitled it. She is still frightened and still unsure of her own ability and thoughts and even needs.

So...... this all looks very bleak. I have left a lot out. I have looked at this and thought.... shit that makes it all sound really impossible. I must put a positive spin on this. I must somehow tell women it will be alright eventually. But the reality is ....  leaving an abusive man is a financial nightmare. The potential for him to continue abusing her through financial means is terrifying.

Which is why.... when a woman leaves she needs real financial support. She needs legal help. Free. She needs somewhere to go and she needs somewhere that will help her get to the next step. Free. She needs a step back into the world of work or education or support if she can't. Free. She needs therapy. Free.

A woman told me last night that a man reduced her maintenance by the price of a tin of cat food a day when her cat died.

Think about that level of control.

I asked my friend from the beginning of this piece... "looking at how you you ever wish you'd stayed?" She smiled. "See this smile. It's all mine. Those children that are waiting for their dinner where we will laugh and chat and solve problems. Mine. Friends like you who come round and cheer me up. Mine. Some things he cannot take from me any more. It will be ok."

Best wishes,

JH x

N.B... a friend asked 'But is the term "violence" the correct term to use?' I think it is. I think the terror that ensues is the result of a deliberate attempt to harm a woman. Some of that harm is physical if her mental health is affected. It is physical if she endures poverty or vulnerability to attack if she becomes homeless. Going hungry is physical violence if inflicted upon her deliberately by the male perpetrator. It wouldn't be "violence" if it was a "result" of other violence. However, this is mostly a series of calculated and considered acts that the perpetrator knows (hopes) will deliberately hurt a woman. I therefore think the term "violence" is appropriate. "Financial Abuse" .... seems to encompass something more to do with the aspect of wealth/poverty than with the control, threats and intention of this particular aspect of domestic violence and abuse. Feel free to disagree.