Kathy Burke in Nil By Mouth, 1997
One of my most favourite films of all time is Nil By Mouth. It's a brutal, disturbing depiction of the life endured by Gary Oldman on a south east london council estate. There is frank, clinical and chilling scenes of domestic violence endured repeatedly by Valerie (Kathy Burke) at the hands of husband Ray (Ray Winstone), which eventually results in him kicking her so badly she loses their unborn child. The degradation and humiliation this woman repeatedly experiences is accepted, and almost expected amongst their peers.
Domestic violence, and the much needed assistance to escape from it is something I hold close to my heart. Due to my near anonymity on this blog, I feel I can share, and perhaps inspire some people into action.
I won't go into much detail, but I will say that this isn't something that affects my life now and is very much in the past for me. I am not someone who likes to focus on the bad things that have happened and I don't consider myself a 'survivor', because to do that would be to remind myself of the events a lot, and although I don't want to detract from those who do feel happy about publicly, and helpfully, discussing their own experiences, I only will mention this if it's necessary. Fortunately no one out there knows me so it's okay for me to share here! Yay for le internet!
I, as I said, won't go into details too much, but I found myself trapped in a terrifyingly violent relationship with a man when I was a teenager. He'd moved in, and he would regularly beat me, spit in my face, and threaten to end my life for a period of a year. I would try and leave, despite it being my own home that I paid the entire rent for, but if I attempted to pack a bag or go anywhere I wasn't permitted to, I would have to endure violence that was progressively getting worse each time. I went flat hunting and arranged to escape during the night with a friend who arranged to pick me up with my cats, who I refused to leave, and let me stay for a few days until I could deal with the complications of moving in to another place. All my phonecalls, and actions were monitored, so it made things pretty difficult. I had my arrangements in place though, but unfortunately things didn't go to plan.
One night my cats had no food, and I spent five minutes to pop down the local shops and pick up some. When I returned to the flat he insisted i'd been gone hours, as he, again, was out of his mind on drugs and drink and went into a rage that resulted in a beating so brutal I was certain that I would be killed that night. I somehow escaped, and was left with no clothes, money, food or resources. I had no phone, but I did have a car. I drove to a male friends house, who turned out to be drunk and incredbly unhelpful despite my obvious desperation. I drove for help from the police, and went to three different stations before I found anyone to report it to. When I did, the male officer treated me disgustingly due to an earlier call I had made to them regarding my boyfriend telling me he'd taken an overdose as I was escaping, telling me that when they'd arrived he was fine, thus i'd wasted police time DESPITE my face having teeth marks from being bitten, a swollen eye, scratches and strangle marks round my neck that were really obvious to the naked eye.
I made a statement, and was left to sit alone, with nowhere to go, in my car until morning came. I had no money to contact friends and my family, who aren't the most supportive, told me I brought it on myself by living with a man without being married. I had no rights over my own property, despite him not paying rent or being a tenant, so I had to risk being beaten again when I went there with my friends to pick up my cats, which fortunately I could do. I then had to drive around the country living off favours from friends, going from place to place, until eventually he cleared out of the property from choice.
I had no protection, no money, no support, no options. It took the police an entire year to arrest this man despite him being at a local address that I gave to them, and him sending friends to my house to threaten, barter with, and intimidate me into dropping the charges against him. He was found guilty in court, but was not imprisoned and was given community service and a fine, of which I saw five pounds, which I didn't cash in, as frankly, it felt insulting.
So what is the point in all this barrage of personal information doing on a mere make up blog?
Well, this happened in the mid nineties, where there were very few facilities and options for victims of domestic violence. Mobiles weren't really an option for those on limited income, there weren't many who had access to the internet. Resources were few and far between, and it's resources that woman, and men (as the recent storyline depicted between Tyrone and girlfriend Kirsty in coronation street showed, it's not just women that are victims of domestic abuse).
Scene from Coronation Street, ITV, 2013
Fortunately, today, there are many more options, one of which is the charity REFUGE who provide an incredible range of support for women and men, who, like me, and thousands of others, had to flee with no money, clothes, and even more worryingly, no support if they have children with them. These facts mean that many women stay trapped in relationships of constant control and abuse, fearing for, and sometimes losing, their lives. They provide helplines, refuges, advocacy and support for children, not only in the uk but across the world. Sadly though, in these cash strapped times, it's not always easy to make a donation.
This is where the make up connection comes in. Refuge is supported by an AMAZING organisation called GIVE AND MAKE UP, which is a non profit organisation that asks for donations of essentials for women and children who desperately need them. They accept lightly used as well as new products, so anything you'd be happy to give to a friend, you can donate, although there are rules regarding products with wands, just for hygiene reasons.
If you would like to donate, which I certainly shall be, you can drop, or send your products to any of THESE PLACES .