THE WALL OF SILENCE Domestic violence Amongst the powerful. By Cara Ellen Rose

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We all have pre-concieved ideas of what domestic abuse is, and where to find the victims of such harrowing experiences. In most cases it's the woman on the brink of homelessness, taking refuge from her abusive spouse in a shelter because she has nowhere else to go.

Recent reports in the media however, are revealing more and more of the hidden victims in our society.
I would argue this is a positive step in dispelling the myths of what a victim of domestic abuse is, enabling us to rally around women and men who have suffered immeasurable cruelty, regardless of class or culture.
From South African Olympian Oscar Pistorius murdering his girlfriend, to Amber Heard reportedly being beaten by Johnny Depp and the infamous incident between Rhianna and chris brown. These stories made an impact on the world and opened dialogue amongst people on the subject of abuse amongst the wealthy.

'why did she stay?’
'Its not like she couldn’t survive on her own’

The greatest example of these dicussions at present, is Melania Trump.
Many of us have seen the inauguration clip of her smiling at trump, only for her expression to change to pure despondency the moment he turns back to face the crowds. I have seen the clip of her taking his hand as she steps onstage, only for him to twist her fingers to cause her physical pain.

We see evidence time and time again, of his abusive treatment of women, and yet we have limited sympathy for his latest victim, and someone who I believe could become an advertisement for this flaw in our society .

I would argue that although perception allows us to believe that access to money enables access to freedom from abuse, this is quite the opposite from the truth.

There’s very little, if any, comparable research for wealthy couples, reinforcing the public’s ignorance of the problem and the culture of silence surrounding abuse amongst the wealthy and powerful.
It could be argued that high profile personalities may be more susceptible to narcissism, ego and paranoia due to a life contained in a bubble of ‘yes’men and fame.

Frequently cycles of violence can characterize domestic abuse, even for the wealthy.
After the violence, the first unique obstacle wealthy women face in getting out of abusive relationships is admitting the abuse itself, an already harrowing task complicated by the fear—and often the reality—of not being believed by peers or the general public.
The torrent of abuse Heard received for leaving Depp and making the alleged attacks public, was behaviour we would never inflict upon someone who lived an ordinary life .
I would argue that Melania Trump is in this difficult situation even though there are reports in the media of President Trump’s mental stability and what I believe to be a blatant narcissistic personality disorder on display for all to see .

I have compassion for Melania and what would perhaps have drawn her to Trump initially.
In a world of capitalism, money and power means prestige and success. I’m sure the luxuries that Donald Trump could offer Melania after a childhood in communist Slovenia seemed rather thrilling.

Narcissists have the canny ability of seeming very charming and generous on the surface but the act is impossible to continue permenantly.
I’m sure if Donald Trump had twisted her fingers the night he met her, she would never have suffered his company again.

There is also a need to express that Trump may not hit his wife. It is the demolition of self esteem and a complete lack of respect for the victim that keeps those on the receiving end of domestic abuse in line with the wants and needs of the perpetrator.

In interviews I have seen, Melania never speaks for herself, and appears to be ‘trained’ to let Donald speak for her. In Donald Trumps own words, she was too ‘heavy’ when pregnant, and denied intimacy by her spouse.
This picks away at a womans self worth and Trump capitalises on this in two ways.
Firstly he has withheld intimacy and instead criticised at a time that a woman should feel at ease and loved.
Secondly he spoke about this to the world, making the shame she felt before , bigger than most could imagine.
This would cause immeasurable damage to her self esteem, and like all victims of domestic abuse leave a sense of unworthiness and self loathing, with the forlorn hope of trying harder and reaching unnatttainable goals of perfection.

Another reason that a high profile victim of domestic violence might stay with an abusive partner or spouse is the empire that supports the victim would collapse after ‘outing’ the abusive spouse. It makes it scary and difficult to ask for help.
Once the abusive spouse has secured their partner’s unhappiness, it would get much worse .
It does create a real threat to the perpetrator of issues spilling out into the public arena but also brings more pressure to keep the victim/s quiet . I believe this could be the reason Melania was smiling at Donald during the inauguration, only to be close to tears as soon as he turned his back.
I also believe that is why Trump’s ex wife Ivana said Trump raped her in her biography, then said at a later date it FELT like rape.

To express the full magnitude of abuse is not only detrimental to their own future and reputation, but also that of their children. The disclosure of abuse only brings on a new warfare for wealthy abused women.

If Melania or one of trumps ex wives exposed his abuse , one can imagine the campaign that would ensue against them.
That campaign often involves stripping the abused victims of all their financial resources, as although the woman may be living in an affluent household, they often have as much access to finances as someone with no money at all.
This makes painful custody battles very expensive, and as is typical in cases of domestic abuse in the celebrity bubble , the abuser will try to hurt the victim in a way that hurts most, by gaining custody of their children.

This seems to be a system that works for the abuser. According to data from the American Judges’ Association, 70 percent of contested custody cases involving domestic violence eventually grant joint or sole custody to the abuser.

With statistics so highly stacked against the victim, many refuse to gamble their children away.

It would appear the stigmas long associated with domestic abuse and the victim shaming that couples it, lives on amongst us .

I strongly believe that we can disagree with passion on political agendas but we must show compassion for those that appear to be victimised, regardless of status or wealth, just as we would for a woman in our own world suffering similar experiences.

We do not know the reason Melania trump became involved with Donald trump. To dismiss her as a ‘gold digger’ I believe is uncaring . I believe we should undoubtedly leave black and white perspectives and assumptions to others and keep hold of our open minds and hearts.

Cara Ellen Rose

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