While at a conference talking about Mental Health and the affect that has on domestic violence one of the speakers told the room a story of a couple that on the outside looked to have the perfect relationship.
Everyone in their social circle would say how in love they looked, how wonderful that after all the years they’d been together that they still always held hands in public. What they didn’t know is that they held hands in public so the husband could control the words that came out of his wife’s mouth.
If she started talking and he didn’t like what she was saying or he wanted her to stop he would simply squeeze her hand as a warning. A little gesture that no one else would notice or think twice about but that exerted so much control.
This story has stayed with me it’s one I use often when talking about domestic abuse, I use it to highlight that we can’t know what goes on behind closed doors and that what may look ok from the outside can be very different on the inside.
I use it to remind people that we can’t possibly know what it’s like for the people that we talk to and I use it to remind myself to be more patient with them if they appear not to want our help. The kind of things that they have had to go through can never be fully understood by anyone but them and the things they have to breakthrough or breakdown within themselves can be massive.
Everyone needs kindness and support in difficult times, everyone needs to feel understood and believed. Everyone needs to feel that actually it’s going to be ok.
So the next time you hear a story that doesn’t match your perception from the outside don’t dismiss it immediately remember that looks can be deceiving.