Domestic Abuse And The Goldish Bowl Effect

Jean Hatchet
A woman being abused goes around and around a lot inside her own head like a goldfish in a bowl.

A woman being abused goes around and around a lot inside her own head like a goldfish in a bowl. She surfaces sometimes, takes a breath from his treatment and has a rare moment of quiet clarity when she thinks, “Is this ok? Am I ok?”

She isn’t ok. But she will swim around her own head a while longer before she finally confides her fears in another. Often another woman. Women who work in the area of domestic abuse always hope there will be a professional available for her. This is always less likely in a climate where there have been vast reductions in services that help women who are being abused. Feminists always hope that the woman she asks will not victim-blame her or be totally unaware of the dynamics of domestic abuse.

If she asks, it will be slowly. First she might describe a “fight” she and her partner have had. She is testing. She wants to position it gently as something far from abuse. Something she feels she may have caused or been complicit in. She wants to know why it feels so bad and so wrong. She hopes you will tell her that it will all be ok. She hopes things will change without her ever needing to do anything.

Women advising women (often they are just friends or relatives) have to be very careful in order to keep this discussion going. They have to offer the right kind of language that she can take away and consider. Suddenly overloading her with all the tactics of an abuser and the features of abuse can be overwhelming for a woman. Likewise criticising her abuser or calling him names. Making her feel stupid for staying is wrong. More importantly you may have to let her swim back around the goldfish bowl a few times, and inevitably often, back to the abuser.

Eventually, hopefully, one day, after her stories about his coercive/sexual, physical/emotional/financial abuse escalate, she will ask the question outright... “Do you think I am being abused?”

The answer “yes” will terrify her. The questions you ask to help her will terrify her. The thoughts she has to run through will paralyse her. Then she may go around her head again. Frequently she will ask again. And again. And again. And it can become frustrating to listen to. It becomes exhausting to say the same things over and over again and see her inaction. The women trying to help can feel as though they are being rejected when she does not take the advice.

It is not easy to support and advise a woman being abused because she fights a battle you cannot see. From the outside, to you, it is clear. She is being treated abysmally by a dark and horrible man. She, however, is still in love. She still sees a glimmer of sunshine in his stormy behaviour.

This is not easy to say but if you are the woman advising you also have to protect yourself at these times. It is easy to feel that you must “save” the woman. That if you are not there every time she asks you are responsible if she does not get free. You may be terrified that he will hurt her. Perhaps kill her.

Abused women need a lot of support. They need a lot of time. It is not right to call them “needy” but they are very much in need. That is why feminists fight for specialist services so hard. It is why if you are the woman who is asked for help you need to guide her towards these services. You can support, but you must also know how to protect yourself.

Advising an abused woman exhibiting the Goldfish Effect is very difficult to negotiate and keep yourself mentally well. Take advice yourself if you need it. Self-protect. Establish boundaries that cannot be crossed. You cannot take calls at all times of day and night. You cannot always respond to texts immediately. You cannot always be there to meet her. If the relationship becomes too intense for you and you feel it affecting your everyday acitivities and your normal interactions with others - you need help and support. You are also not a specialist refuge. It may not be appropriate or even helpful to house the woman yourself. Only you can judge this.

These are brave women fighting a terrible battle against abuse. You are brave if you help. Be brave and safe. It is the only way to continue to be her friend. She is going to need your friendship.

Here are some numbers that you might need.

  • Sarah Ferguson surprises in leather for her THIRD royal wedding outfit
    News
    Hello!

    Sarah Ferguson surprises in leather for her THIRD royal wedding outfit

    The Duchess of York scored a fashion hat-trick at her daughter Princess Eugenie's wedding! We loved her beautiful outfit for the star-studded ceremony, which took place at Windsor Castle. On Monday the mum-of-two shared a snap on her popular Instagram page of her third and final outfit, which consisted of a pale blue dress and coordinating leather jacket. The gorgeous dress, which is by designer label Jad Ghandour and features a fitted top and pleated midi skirt.

  • Theresa May has reneged on her Brexit promises at every turn – that’s why we need to march for a Final Say on Saturday
    News
    The Independent

    Theresa May has reneged on her Brexit promises at every turn – that’s why we need to march for a Final Say on Saturday

    On Wednesday European Union leaders gather for their summit in Brussels when the principle elements of the Brexit deal between the EU and the UK are supposed to be agreed, pending the Withdrawal Agreement being finalised at a special summit in mid-November. Prime minister Theresa May is due to address a working dinner of heads of government on the topic. There was some drama yesterday with unplanned talks between leading Brexiter, the Brexit secretary Dominic Raab and the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier, aimed at paving the way for the emergence of a deal in Brussels.

  • All the signs that hinted at Duchess Meghan's pregnancy – from her outfits to her body language
    News
    Hello!

    All the signs that hinted at Duchess Meghan's pregnancy – from her outfits to her body language

    The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have announced they are expecting their first baby! The palace released the news in a sweet statement on Monday morning, which read: "Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are very pleased to announce that The Duchess of Sussex is expecting a baby in the Spring of 2019. On a number of occasions during the summer, the Duchess was seen discreetly using her body language to hide any sign of a bump – at Charlie Van Straubenzee and Daisy Jenks' wedding in August, for example, she regularly held her clutch bag in front of her stomach. MORE: What titles will be used for Prince Harry and Meghan's children?

  • Strictly star Craig Revel Horwood slams claims judges ‘fix’ scores
    News
    Evening Standard

    Strictly star Craig Revel Horwood slams claims judges ‘fix’ scores

    Strictly Come Dancing judge Craig Revel Horwood has slammed claims the judges “fix” scores on the BBC ballroom show. The show has come under fire from fans and professional dancers who have accused the judges of influencing viewer votes. Former Strictly pro Ola Jordan suggested back in 2015 that the panel deliberately gave higher scores to certain contestants, something show bosses have denied.

  • Brexit talks: What on earth just happened?
    News
    The Independent

    Brexit talks: What on earth just happened?

    All weekend, news trickling out of Brexit talks became more and more positive. Dominic Raab, the Brexit secretary, headed out to Brussels to confirm it all – or so we thought. Then the Brexit roller coaster hit yet another big dipper: after a shorter-than expected meeting between Raab and Michel Barnier, it was all off again, and we were, in the words of one official “back to square one”.

  • Don’t let Johnson and Rees-Mogg hold the UK to ransom
    News
    The Guardian

    Don’t let Johnson and Rees-Mogg hold the UK to ransom

    Britain’s EU brink comes as border gates slam shut at Dover, the M20 jams and the French visa office is besieged. From the moment, early in her leadership, that Theresa May pretended she could have both Brexit and open borders with the EU “in all circumstances”, a crisis of reality was bound to come.

  • Cars Submerged as Aude River Floods in Southern France
    Storyful

    Cars Submerged as Aude River Floods in Southern France

    Residents in the Aude department of France were warned not to leave their homes or drive after multiple people died in flash flooding in the region on October 15. Red and orange alerts were in place on October 15. Edouard Philippe, France’s Minister of the Interior, said seven helicopters were mobilized to the affected areas to assist in rescue operations. In Limoux, shown in this footage, the Aude river flooded and left parked cars submerged. Credit: Fédération Aude Claire via Storyful

  • Daylight Saving Time: When do the clocks change, why do we use GMT – and do we still need to?
    News
    The Telegraph

    Daylight Saving Time: When do the clocks change, why do we use GMT – and do we still need to?

    October has arrived; the leaves are turning, the temperatures are dropping and the mornings are gradually becoming lighter later.

  • Best grammar schools in 2018 according to GCSE league tables
    News
    The Telegraph

    Best grammar schools in 2018 according to GCSE league tables

    The Tiffin Girls' School in Kingston upon Thames is at the top of the tree when it comes to GCSE performance among grammar schools.

  • Nicola Sturgeon calls for extension of Brexit transition period
    News
    The Guardian

    Nicola Sturgeon calls for extension of Brexit transition period

    Nicola Sturgeon said a longer transition period was ‘vital to avoid another cliff-edge scenario’. Nicola Sturgeon has called for an extension of the proposed 21-month Brexit transition period to give the UK government more time to negotiate a compromise with opposition parties, in order to deliver a “commonsense” future relationship with the EU. “If the last two years have shown us anything, it is surely that more time will inevitably be needed to agree the future relationship, and so being able to extend the transition period will be vital to avoid another cliff-edge scenario,” Scotland’s first minister said.

  • Harry and Meghan may have breached etiquette by announcing baby news at Eugenie's wedding, says expert 
    News
    The Telegraph

    Harry and Meghan may have breached etiquette by announcing baby news at Eugenie's wedding, says expert 

    The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s decision to announce their pregnancy to family and friends at Princess Eugenie’s wedding has been branded a “faux pas” by Britain’s leading etiquette expert.

  • News
    Business Insider UK

    Fleetwood Mac disputes Lindsey Buckingham lawsuit

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — Fleetwood Mac disputes allegations in a lawsuit filed by Lindsey Buckingham for kicking him off the band's new tour.

  • 7 black women who are rocking TV in 2018
    News
    Digital Spy

    7 black women who are rocking TV in 2018

    The revolution is being televised.

  • Best independent schools in 2018: Full league table for A-Level results 
    News
    The Telegraph

    Best independent schools in 2018: Full league table for A-Level results 

    Cardiff Sixth Form College has retained its spot at the top of the tree when it comes to A-level performance among independent schools.

  • News
    Sky News

    New York's 'champagne water' takes on soil taste

    The tap water in New York City has caused a stir as residents complain it tastes like soil. As the New York Post put it, "It's eau de dirt". This mineral rich water normally makes up around 10% of the water supply in New York City but has risen to up to 30% in Manhattan and parts of the Bronx.

  • News
    Sky News

    Speed record team Bloodhound calls in administrators

    The British-led attempt to create the world's first land vehicle capable of breaking the 1,000mph speed barrier has called in administrators as it seeks a £25m cash injection. FRP Advisory said on Monday that it had been called into handle the insolvency process for the company behind Project Bloodhound, confirming a story first reported by Sky News. Joint administrator Andrew Sheridan said the administration "provides some breathing space to identify an investor who will bring the guaranteed funding, impetus and expertise required to drive the project forward".

  • US Embassy 'sorry to disappoint' after Cookie Monster cat pyjama-party invitation sent out accidentally
    News
    Evening Standard

    US Embassy 'sorry to disappoint' after Cookie Monster cat pyjama-party invitation sent out accidentally

    The US Embassy in Australia has apologised after it inadvertently spammed computers with a photo of a cat dressed in Cookie Monster pyjamas, holding a plate of biscuits. The email, titled "meeting", featured a photo of a tabby cat wearing a blue Cookie Monster outfit was reportedly sent by mistake as part of a training exercise - distributed as fake meeting invitation. US Mission to Australia public affairs counsellor Gavin Sundwall apologised on behalf of the US State Department, saying that there would sadly be no such pyjama party.

  • British-built spacecraft BepiColombo to blast off to reach Mercury
    News
    Evening Standard

    British-built spacecraft BepiColombo to blast off to reach Mercury

    A British-built spacecraft is set to blast off from Earth to map the surface of Mercury, the closest planet to the sun in our solar system. BepiColombo, the European Space Agency’s (Esa) first mission to Mercury, will be the first spacecraft to use electrical ion thrusters to travel to another planet. The mission will perform a comprehensive study of the smallest and innermost planet in the Solar System.

  • News
    Business Insider UK

    Amnesty researcher abducted, beaten in Russia

    MOSCOW (AP) — Rights group Amnesty International says its researcher in Russia's North Caucasus has been abducted and beaten while reporting on protests in the region.

  • Kangaroo attacks leaves Australian woman with collapsed lung and broken ribs
    News
    The Independent

    Kangaroo attacks leaves Australian woman with collapsed lung and broken ribs

    A woman in Australia has undergone emergency surgery after she was attacked by a six-foot kangaroo while feeding the animal at her home in Queensland. Linda Smith suffered a collapsed lung, broken ribs, cuts and scratches after the animal turned on her as she attempted to protect her husband. The 64-year-old and her husband Jim Smith are wildlife carers who feed around 30 kangaroos and wallabies at their 60-acre property in Darling Downs every night.

  • The Reader: Defending freedom of speech is not optional
    News
    Evening Standard

    The Reader: Defending freedom of speech is not optional

    Last month, two journalists in Myanmar were jailed for reporting on a massacre of Rohingya Muslims. Two weeks ago, Turkish author Ahmet Altan was sentenced to life in prison for criticising his government. It appears last week Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, while journalist Victoria Marinova was raped and murdered in Bulgaria.

  • News
    Sky News

    Man chokes to death as shirt gets caught in New York subway escalator

    A man choked to death when his shirt got caught in an escalator in a New York subway. Officials have named him as Carlos Alvarez, according to US media. Police were able to cut the shirt off the 48-year-old man and took him to Lincoln Hospital, but he later died.

  • News
    Business Insider UK

    Oil trader Gunvor closes sustainability-linked $745 million loan

    Global energy trader Gunvor Group has secured a $745 million loan from banks with an interest rate that depends on meeting targets to reduce pollution and improve transparency, the company said. In what Gunvor said was the first loan of its kind, the company will receive a discount on the interest for the borrowing base facility if its sustainability targets are met but will be penalized if it severely misses them. The savings on the interest, which are expected to total hundreds of thousands of dollars, will go to the recently launched Gunvor Foundation, a non-profit, philanthropic arm of Gunvor, the company said in a statement.

  • Petrol stations urged to slash prices by 2p per litre
    News
    motor1

    Petrol stations urged to slash prices by 2p per litre

    RAC wants the cost of fuel to fall in line with oil price slumps.

  • Sweeping Reforms Needed To Tackle 'Pervasive Abuse' In Parliament, Bullying Report Warns
    News
    HuffPost UK

    Sweeping Reforms Needed To Tackle 'Pervasive Abuse' In Parliament, Bullying Report Warns

    Sweeping reforms are needed to tackle "pervasive abuse" among MPs and House of