There are many misconceptions about domestic violence – the most damning of which is that there’s a set type of abuser, survivor and situation. As Refuge reminds us in no uncertain terms, “anyone can be abused, no matter where they live or how much money they have” and that “abused men and women come from all walks of life”.
Indeed, you only have to recall the celebrities who have spoken out to realise that money cannot protect you from domestic violence. And Abigail Breslin, famed for her starring turns in Little Miss Sunshine and Scream Queens, has made a point of using her position in the spotlight to educate her followers on the realities of abuse.
Earlier this week, Breslin – marking of Domestic Violence Awareness Month – shared a photo on Instagram, which depicted a small bruise and a cut on her ankle.
In her caption, she writes: “I’m a domestic violence and sexual assault survivor. While I now am no longer with my abuser, in the aftermath of what happened to me, I developed Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.”
PTSD, as the NHS explains, is caused by stressful, frightening or distressing events, and symptoms often include sufferers reliving the event though nightmares, flashbacks, or intrusive thoughts or images at unwanted moments.
Further symptoms are problems with sleeping and concentration, and feelings of isolation, irritability and guilt, often severe enough to have an impact on sufferers' day-to-day life.
And, as Breslin goes on to explain, PTSD can result in physical injury, too: the cut on her foot was the result of slipping and falling on a piece of glass after having a PTSD-related episode.
She adds: “I was so freaked out and disoriented I slipped and fell on a piece of glass. Usually they occur right after I’ve been triggered... the problem is, though, that triggers are often very hard to detect. Which is exactly why #domesticviolenceawarenessmonth is so important.”
Breslin goes on to ask her social media following to continue to raise awareness about domestic violence and, above all else, to keep the conversation about abuse open.
“While at first I felt this was very awkward and uncomfortable to post, I reminded myself of something I say often – PTSD is absolutely NOTHING to be ashamed or embarrassed about. PTSD is the result of an uncontrollable scenario.”
She continues: “Never feel like you are less than because you have a condition that you didn’t cause. You are still beautiful, you are still important, you are still WORTHY.”
Earlier this year, Breslin sparked an important conversation about sexual violence when she confirmed that she had been assaulted by someone she knew.
Sharing a passage titled ‘Consent II’, she reminded her fans: “You are not obligated to have sex with someone that you’re in a relationship with.
“Dating is not consent [and] marriage is not consent.”
She later shared an emotional Instagram post, in which she clarified that she had been in a relationship with her attacker – and hit back at a social media troll who told her that “reported rapes are the only rapes that count”.
“I was in a relationship with my rapist and feared not being believed,” wrote Breslin, when asked why she didn’t report the crime to the police.
“I also feared that, if my case didn’t lead anywhere, he would still find out and hurt me even more.”
Breslin’s post was a reminder that a relationship is not consent – and many have praised her for using her platform to make people more aware of intimate partner rape.
Rape Crisis England and Wales explains: “Only around 10% of rapes are committed by ‘strangers’. Around 90% of rapes are committed by known men, and often by someone who the survivor has previously trusted or even loved.
“People are raped in their homes, their workplaces and other settings where they have previously felt safe. Rapists can be friends, colleagues, clients, neighbours, family members, partners or exes.
“Risk of rape shouldn't be used as an excuse to control women's movements and restrict their rights and freedom.”
If you would like more information or support, visit Rape Crisis UK – or, alternatively, call 0808 802 9999 (usual opening times are noon–2.30pm and 7–9.30pm any day of the year and also between 3–5.30pm on weekdays).
Images: Instagram / Rex Features