When I looked up the term “survivor” in the Cambridge English dictionary, I found two distinct definitions. The first states that a survivor is:
“a person who continues to live, despite nearly dying”
Whilst the second definition describes a survivor as:
“a person who is able to continue living their life successfully despite experiencing difficulties”
It struck me that when it comes to survivors of domestic violence these two definitions converge into one. As the “Counting Dead Women” project in the UK highlights, death is a common outcome of abusive romantic relationships. Throughout the first lockdown of the coronavirus pandemic, which spanned from 23rd March 2020 to the start of July, 35 women were murdered by men. In addition to this, the murders of 12 other women were strongly suspected to be cases of domestic homicide.
There are many other women who have narrowly escaped this fate, who have managed to get out, by the skin of their teeth, scathed but not obliterated. This is a pinnacle moment in the woman’s’ journey. From here on the services she engages with, choices she makes, narratives she occupies and definitions of others, decide whether she can become a “survivor” of domestic violence. This is because to be worthy of the status of “survivor” women must prove, not just that they have survived, but that they have thrived since they left their abuser.
At talking elephants, we provide a confidential and non-judgemental space for all. If you or your family have been impacted by any of the issues discussed in this blog post, we can support you. You can contact us on 0203 488 6299 for a free initial consultation.