Many episodes of Sword and Scale have struck an emotional cord in our listeners but very few have hit as close to home for most of our fans as Episode 60. According to statistics listed on the website for the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in three women and one in four men have been subjected to physical violence at the hands of a partner within their lifetime. In the United States alone more than 200,000 phone calls are placed to domestic violence hotlines per day.
With the rise of domestic abuse to near epidemic levels, the likelihood of listeners having been the victim of domestic violence themselves or having a friend or loved one in an abusive relationship is overwhelmingly high. As evidenced by the outpouring of support from seasoned listeners and new fans, alike, it is clear that featuring Dave Navarro’s story on the tragic loss of his own mother at the hands of a jaded ex-lover is one of the most important episodes to date in Sword and Scale history.
While many listeners reached out to share their personal stories of surviving abusive relationships, there was one fan who reached out with video evidence, as well as the story of his sister’s desperate battle to survive her own abusive partner. Though every story we’ve received is incredibly important, very few could truly capture what someone involved in an abusive relationship is forced to face on a daily basis.
Instinctually, we view this footage and think to ourselves that we would leave this situation immediately, however, the dynamics of an abusive relationship can often be a tangled web and leaving it behind may be more difficult than any of us could ever dream of.
Long before the physical violence begins, an abuser is likely to use psychological mind games in order to break down their partner. Gaslighting is one common technique, wherein the abuser convinces the victim that they are blowing things out of proportion or that certain situations may not have ever occurred as they perceived them. This slowly begins to plant the seed of doubt in the victim and sends the message that the abuser knows better than them.
Another common practice for abusers is to isolate their victims. Slowly forcing the victim to cut off contact with friends and loved ones, an abuser is free to do as he or she sees fit once the victim has no one else to turn to. This is also achieved by pressuring the victim to become financially dependant upon the abuser, forcing victims to choose between enduring the abuse or face homelessness.
When children become a factor in an abusive relationship the outcome is even more devastating. Not only are those children likely to be abused themselves, but the abuser may manipulate children in taking part in the abuse of the other parent. Other times children are used as tools in order to manipulate the victim. In our listener’s case, his sister lost her children as a result of the unsafe environment they were exposed to.
Though our listener did not elaborate on what the final push was to convince his sister to leave behind the unhealthy relationship she had been involved in, she was thankfully able to break free. However, her abusive partner was not ready to let go.
Like many abusers, though the relationship was over the violence continued. On the evening the video was filmed, our listener claims that he was with his sister when her abusive ex-boyfriend and his friend came to her home. They immediately reported the incident to police, who he says did not take the report very seriously.
“They had already come round once before that night and the police were called. When they got there they just brushed us aside as we had no proof it was them.”
When the two men decided to come around again, that’s when our quick thinking listener pulled out his dash cam. Setting the camera up in the kitchen, our listener was able to film his sister’s ex-boyfriend as well as an accomplice attempting to intimidate them. Though there is no audio on the recording, the raw footage says a thousand words.
With video evidence in hand, our listener proudly stated that the perpetrators were arrested the following day. “My sister’s ex got five months and his friend got a year because of this incident and others.”
Not many of the stories featured here on Sword and Scale conclude with a happy ending, and the tragic tales told on Episode 60 are no exception. However, this story serves to highlight that even the darkest stories don’t have to end in tragedy.