By Lucy Berrington
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Domestic abuse is a form of terrorism that comes from within our own society, says Lucy Berrington in this news analysis, resulting in mass casualties and extremely high costs. But for its victims, no big-budget homeland security effort exists
(WOMENSENEWS)--Carissa Daniels is a terrorism survivor. For years she lived in a state of chronic fear and watchfulness, restricting where she went and what she did.
"My system is still in hyper-drive," she said. "Terrorism changes your behavior in the moment and for the rest of your life."
The terrorism that Daniels suffered did not take place in New York or London or Madrid. She wasn't a victim of al-Qaida. The attacks took place repeatedly over nine years at her home in Washington state. They were physical, emotional and sexual, and inflicted by the man she lived with, the father of her child.
Although Daniels left her abuser more than a decade ago, he remains a threat to her safety and that of her daughter. Now 55 and 18, they struggle with long-term effects that include poverty and serious health problems.
"Even the simplest things are no longer simple," Daniels said. The loss of freedoms, self-sufficiency, safety and emotional tranquility are the same outcomes that global terrorists aim for, though evidence suggests that abusive partners achieve them more effectively.
The stories of survivors from different countries and circumstances are strikingly aligned. A British study released in early July draws on such stories to make the case that domestic abuse functions psychologically in the same way as global terrorism.
"Framing domestic abuse as 'everyday terrorism' helps us understand how fear works," writes Rachel Pain, the study's author and a professor of geography at Durham University in England.
The report, "Everyday Terrorism: How Fear Works in Domestic Abuse," confronts the assumption that, at some level, victims of domestic attacks choose their fates. Pain's findings indicate that entrapment is not a byproduct of masochism or misguided love, but of women's rational fear (validated by research) that they and their children are never so at risk as when separating from a violent partner