Controversial Parallels – AKA Scotland’s #Indyref (Possible Trigger Warning)

Before we get started: News is that the MM-people are still waiting to hear about whether or not they will be granted Legal Aid to appeal. On a personal note, we still haven’t received our refusal letter.

Now that the bits that, let’s be honest, most of my readers actually care about, I’m going to get into some controversial stuff today. For some, this may bring up bad experiences, so it bears a (in caps so we don’t miss it) TRIGGER WARNING. It isn’t going to be pretty, it will likely offend people, but the ultimate goal is to get people to think about not just the campaigns surrounding Scotland’s Independence Referendum, but give a good, hard, look at how society is currently blindfolded to domestic violence and abuse.

I do not make these comparisons lightly, and I will be providing documented evidence to support my observations. Abuse is not something to be trivialised, that is not the point of this post: the point is in highlighting how we (as this is in the UK, we could say it speaks directly to them, but I would go further and assume that it is more wide spread within “Western” culture and beyond) as a society are all-too-willing to ignore domestic violence, even when it is projected – mirroring the lives of abuser and abused – on a national, political, platform.

To start with I will use an overly simplified statement: “If the UK is a marriage between countries, then Scotland is with an abusive spouse.”

The statement is not meant to be comforting or associated in any way with “warm, fuzzy, feelings.” It is intentionally provocative, and it is to be expected that one feel (at the very least) unsettled by it.

Let’s look first at the word “Marriage.” According to Dictionary.com:

noun

1.

(broadly) any of the diverse forms ofinterpersonal union established in various parts ofthe world to form a familial bond that is recognized legally, religiously, or socially, grantingthe participating partners mutual conjugal rightsand responsibilities and including, for example,opposite-sex marriage, same-sex marriage,plural marriage, and arranged marriage:

Anthropologists say that some type of marriagehas been found in every known human societysince ancient times.
See Word Story at the current entry.

2.

  1. Also called opposite-sex marriagethe form of this institution under which a man and woman have established their decision to liveas husband and wife by legal commitments,religious ceremonies, etc.
    See alsotraditional marriage(def 2).
  2. this institution expanded to include two partners of the same gender, as in same-sexmarriage; gay marriage.

3.

the state, condition, or relationship of beingmarried; wedlock:

They have a happy marriage.
Synonyms: matrimony.

4.

the legal or religious ceremony that formalises the decision of two people to live as a married couple, including the accompanying social festivities:

to officiate at a marriage.
Antonyms: divorceannulment.

5.

a relationship in which two people have pledged themselves to each other in the manner of ahusband and wife, without legal sanction:

trial marriage.

6.

any close or intimate association or union:

the marriage of words and music in a hit song.

7. a formal agreement between two companies or enterprises to combine operations, resources,etc., for mutual benefit; merger.

It is a union between entities (be they persons, businesses, or in this case countries) to combine and share resources for mutual benefit. Now that I’ve thoroughly taken all romance out of the word (yes, I did observe that), let’s remember that not all marriages are the stuff that poets write sonnets about (think Briteny Spears 24-hour wedding). So when someone asks “You’re not seriously comparing a marriage to a union between countries, are you?” the answer is will be a firm, “yes,” because the dictionary said so.
That said, this argument is actually something of a red herring in terms of debate, because it is a well documented fact that abuse can happen in any kind of relationship: families, partners, employers… if it is a relationship between two or more entities/individuals, rest uneasily (because no one should be able to sleep peacefully with this knowledge) that it IS capable of inflicting abuse onto someone within said relationship.
Now that we have established that the United Kingdom is a union between two countries, we can now turn our attention to establishing the meaning of abuse, and for that, I have opted to go to Wikipedia because it has the longer list of examples (which I will forgo posting here to spare you the lengthy read), however, I will include the NHS’s definitions, though neither list can be considered exhaustive, because it still needs something to be said:
The 7 main categories of abuse
Physical abuse
Examples include: Slapping, pushing, kicking, rough handling, twisting of limbs/ extremities, misuse of medication, or inappropriate sanctions or restraint.Sexual abuse
Examples include: Rape and sexual assault or sexual acts to which the vulnerable adult has not consented, could not consent or was pressured into consenting.  Non-contact abuse such as voyeurism, involvement in pornography.

Psychological / Emotional abuse
Examples include: verbal assault or intimidation, emotional abuse, deprivation of contact verbal abuse, threats of harm or abandonment, humiliation or blaming, overriding of consent, choices or wishes, feeling worthless, frightened or unloved.
NB: Psychological/emotional abuse will usually occur in conjunction with other forms of abuse.

Financial abuse
Examples include: theft, fraud, exploitation, and pressure in connections with wills, property, possessions or benefits.

Neglect and acts of omission
Examples include: ignoring medical or physical care needs, failure to provide access to appropriate health, social care or educational services, the withholding of the necessities of life, such as medication, adequate nutrition and heating.

Discriminatory abuse
This abuse is usually motivated by discriminatory and oppressive attitudes towards race gender, culture background, religion physical and/ or sensory impairment, sexual orientation and age.

Institutional abuse, neglect and poor practice
This may take the form of isolated incidents of poor or unsatisfactory professional practice at one end of the spectrum, through to persuasive ill treatment or gross misconduct.

I have taken the liberty and underlined the examples that I will be covering in my evidence. Again, I am using the #IndyRef as an example of how we ignore signs of abuse in a wide society. For each of the items that was underlined, I have provided examples of them in the media.

This is by no means a complete list of the abuses that the Scottish people have endured; in fact, given the history of Scotland, one could argue that I have understated the amount of abuse the Scottish people have experienced at the hands of the Empire (IMO it reads “Revolt, Oppresses, Repeat” ad nauseam).

Abuse is the presence of any of these items and/or others mentioned (and unmentioned, as I have already stated – it isn’t a complete list). Most abusers use more than one form abuse on their victims, but to say most does not by any means imply ALL. The fact that we ignore one sign of abuse because it is not deemed enough to be of concern is a huge factor in why we, as a society, allow abuse to continue to exist.

When blatantly obvious forms of abuse are promoted en masse across all forms of media, it speaks volumes to how wilfully blind we are to it. That we fail to recognise it, or worse attempt to justify it, on an national level has real impact on individuals. It normalises the caustic behaviours, and that is dangerous because it isolates those who are attempting to escape it.

One only needs to look at the #WhyIStayed hashtag to see the many examples from survivors of domestic violence of that rationalising, normalising, effect.

This, too, is mirrored in mass media in relation to the Independence Referendum:

From staying for the sake of “the children” to being told that one “cannot make it on their own.” The language used is intentional, the effect just as profound, the signs of abuse is rampant in our own politics, and by extension, our own culture. Is it any wonder that those suffering domestic violence and abuse find themselves questioning their own experiences, second guessing themselves and being afraid of that others won’t take them seriously?

If we are capable of ignoring the signs of abuse on such a grand scale, is it really any wonder that we do so on an individualistic one?

So why use domestic violence for this post and not, for example, abuse in the workplace? Partly because the use of marriage; I’m not the first person to use it in relation to the unity of countries, though I can accept that I have taken the preverbal prism and held it up at a different angle than most.

It has already been noted that abuse can happen in any relationship, and while for some it may be more comfortable to think of the abusive behaviours being exhibited by both the current government and the politicians that are supposed to represent parliament (and possibly government itself in the near future) as being one from employer-to-employee, this post has absolutely nothing to do with making things comfortable or easier to bear. The fact that people can tolerate one system of abuse more readily than another does not mean that the lesser-accepted form is any less prevalent. It simply means that it is less-willingly spoken about in an open forum.

And that’s the other reason why I chose domestic abuse. It is the Voldemort of abuse topics; the one that no one wants to name. Because it is all too familiar a TV guest and no one wants to acknowledge it.

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