There is a growing awareness around the subject of domestic violence, abuse and assault – and yet there is no denying that the topic is still something of a social taboo. Some deem it “unladylike” to fight back against an assailant, while others pile blame upon the victim – or find excuses for the perpetrator. The media’s apologetic language, gendered stereotypes, and entrenched sexism continues to normalise violence against women: they were drinking, they were wearing a short skirt, they had a long string of ex-boyfriends, they had mental health issues, they were out late at night, they overreacted, they were jealous, they should have said something…
In a world where we still struggle to nail domestic violence convictions, this has very real implications for women at threat everywhere, every day. However a number of people in the public eye – such as Mariah Carey, Fearne Cotton, Stacey Solomon, and Amber Heard – have determined to speak up about their own experiences, in a bid to increase understanding of abuse and coercive control.
And now Lindsay Lohan has bravely joined them in doing exactly that.
Speaking on John Bishop: In Conversation With... she said: “I was in a very abusive relationship with my ex, he was hitting me a lot, and I didn't know how to get out of it.”
Lohan continued: “I notice and I look back and think I saw my mum going through this and I get it. I stayed because it was normal for me.
“Of course, as a child, you recognise, in psychiatry it's a study, those moments become almost like a safe chaos and you just think it's normal, but it's not normal, and I remember saying to myself that moment when he ran out of my house, ‘Thank God’.
“I was like, ‘Oh my God, I'm not going to put myself through what my mother went through, no. This ends now.'
“My father was never physically abusive to my mother in front of me, I never saw that. Before I was born, yes. I've seen those photos.”
The Mean Girls star went on to explain that leaving her violent partner marked a turning point in her life – and encouraged her to begin working with refugees in Syria.
“That was when things changed,” she said.
"I took control back in my life and said, ‘No one is going to hurt me, I'm gonna help other people and focus on taking care of myself.’”
Towards the end of the interview, Bishop asked Lohan how the experience has changed her – and how she would go about helping someone if they came to her and revealed that they were trapped in an abusive relationship.
Lohan, however, pointed out that the majority of domestic abuse victims find it incredibly difficult to vocalise what’s happening to them.
“It's really hard to talk to someone in that situation,” explained the 30-year-old actor. “You're scared but you want to be strong and you want to make it calm.
“I don't know. I just prayed for him [my ex] to go, and he did. It was that bad and I didn't want anyone to know, so I didn't talk about it.”
It can be difficult for many people trapped in toxic and abusive relationships to spot the warning signs.
These can include (but are not limited to) the following:
- Your partner constantly criticises, humiliates or belittles you
- Your partner checks up on you or follows you
- Your partner tries to keep you from seeing your friends or family
- Your partner has prevented you or made it hard for you to continue studying or going to work
- Your partner unjustly accuses you of flirting or having affairs with others
- Your partner has forced you to do something that you really did not want to do
- Your partner has deliberately destroyed any of your possessions
- You have changed your behaviour because you are afraid of what your partner might do or say to you
- Your partner controls your finances
- Your partner talks down to you
- Your partner has strong opinions on what you should wear and your appearance
- Your partner has tried to prevent you from leaving your house
- Your partner has forced you or harassed you into performing a sexual act
- Your partner has threatened to reveal or publish private information
- Your partner threatens to hurt him or herself if you leave them
- Your partner witholds medication from you
- Your partner makes you feel guilty all the time
- Your partner blames you for their bad moods and outbursts
- You are afraid of your partner
Visit womensaid.org.uk or call 0808-2000 247 for more information about coercive control, domestic abuse, and the help available for those affected.
Images: Rex Features