Abuse in any race, language, culture or level of society, is still abuse and domestic violence is not confined to one particular class or creed of society. The struggling family, comprising of a mother with two, three or four children, still faces uncertainty, bewilderment, trepidation and countless other fears.
There is an ‘unspoken,’ class of women however, who, despite undergoing the same predicament, continue to hide behind a cloak of respectability. They maintain the façade while they lead, what to their social-equals appears to be normal, busy and contented family lives.
These women living in affluent suburbs and engaging in social activity have deep, dark secrets that they cannot or will not share while living in their gilded cages. Sadly, some take their secrets to their graves!
I’m talking about a hidden and unspoken of, but nevertheless, real problem that has beset some women living in Sydney’s wealthy areas.
What is it all about? Why is it hidden? Who is involved? While these questions can, to a certain extent, be answered, the where, when and why are scenarios that no one can delve into as long as there is a conspiracy of silence surrounding the issue.
Behind closed door the women concerned are being abused physically, mentally or verbally. If they refuse to seek help or cease to accept any further assistance or support, it can at times be a fatal mistake. Yes, some of these women have paid with their lives, to hide not only their shame or their fears, but at times, simply to protect the very monster who is abusing them. A quote from writer, Stephanie Meyer, sums up their predicament, ‘Sometimes, loyalty gets in the way of what you want to do. Sometimes, it’s not your secret to tell’.
So why is this report focussing on the privileged, financially blessed, ‘spoilt’ class of abused women? What is so significant about these women in comparison to any other abused woman in society? Why draw attention to their plight? Are their difficulties even worthy of mention?
The general public would rightfully sniff and scorn at the notion of society’s elite or affluent women even having ‘domestic issues.’
On the one hand, these ladies do have the best that money can buy: beautiful homes, designer clothes, the latest models of cars, domestic help, gardeners, cooks, pool boys, housekeepers and ground keepers. Their children attend private schools, receive tuition to excel in subjects that they may be mediocre in, learn to appreciate the arts, play musical instruments and be accomplished in singing or dancing, or both and vacation in places many can only dream of.
The façade behind the social standing, the Vogue-magazine homes and the manicured lawns can be, akin to a magician’s sleight of hand, an illusion or a back-drop that is hiding pain, shame and fear. The stresses behind the highly-maintained front, could camouflage mounting debt, a struggling business, failure to get the corporate promotion, failed investments and any or all of the above.
Husbands who are ruthless in their climb of the corporate ladder may take out their frustrations in missing out on the corporate promotion, on their wives. Or feel the pressure of bankruptcy when they gamble their savings on a failed business venture. In their bid to keep up with the proverbial, ‘Joneses,’ they may have over-extended their finances. There are so many possible scenarios but the hard facts are that generally speaking, their wives, and in some cases, their children, suffer the consequences of their stress and frustration.
Wives can be mentally or verbally abused, or worse, physically battered whenever the husband gets home from the office.
Abused wives who do report their husbands have rescinded their statements when faced with the possibility that their esteemed husband and the father of their children could face a prison sentence. The probability that he could lose his acclaimed position at his work; that the family would be shunned socially; that the children would miss out on their private education, all play a part in the withdrawal of the statement.
The police, having been made aware of the family situation, can do little to intervene, despite being mindful that the wife could face further mistreatment for exposing the family’s secret.
While the general lack of sympathy can to a certain extent be understood, these society women have other issues that are at stake and are equally as concerning, if not more, than their less well-off, suburban counterparts.
Picture the scenario: a mother and her children are fleeing the marital home! They are placed in basic, shelter accommodation which, compared to their former lifestyle, is generally unappealing. The fundamental problem they all face is when the husband freezes the account and the entire family suffer, or the executive lawyers make certain the wife is left without a penny to her name.
Hiding from and fearing their husbands’ wrath, trying to survive on the limited budget provided by the shelter; attempting to make life as comfortable for the uprooted children; bearing the brunt of the children’s disenchantment with their new surroundings; the children missing their social connections; and finally, dealing with new schooling for the children, can deplete the mental and physical resolve of these woman.
Generally however, the plea that the husband could lose his corporate position or even be fired, or that he could be jailed, plays a significant part in the wives returning to the marital home and the real possibility that, despite the husband’s reassurances, that the abuse will continue. For many of these men, their positions underline their business and social standing and they feel defined by their career. They lose more, in being denied their corporate role.
While this report exposes the hidden problems that face the affluent wife, no examples can be given due primarily to the fact that few of these women will step forward to acknowledge, or to speak out and expose their secrets. If you know of any who are willing to talk to me or to any reporter, please leave a message in the comments area or Inbox me on Facebook and we can take it from there.
White Ribbon Day, held today, 25 November, highlights and draws attention to domestic violence across all levels of society.
© 2013 Wendy Robinson
I have learned now that while those who speak about ones miseries usually hurt, those who keep silence hurt more. ~ C.S Lewis