Chief Inspector Sharon Baker of Avon and Somerset Police has spoken about her experience of domestic abuse to show how it can happen to anyone.
“Domestic abuse doesn’t discriminate. People may be surprised an officer has had this experience, but anyone can be a victim,” she was quoted as saying by the Bath Live news website.
“In some ways being a police officer was a barrier to me admitting what was going on as I felt I had to be ‘strong’ and didn’t realise it’s strong to speak up.”
She added: “It’s hard to admit to yourself you may be a victim. Abuse is clever, it slowly takes away all the confidence you felt … It took me a long time to notice the red flags and realise what was happening as it became normal.”
Speaking ten years since the abusive relationship ended, she recalled: “One of the early signs was that he drank a lot but it took me a while to notice it as there always seemed to be a special occasion …
“Comments were said about what I was wearing, things that made me feel very bad like snippy comments. But I brushed them off.
“That then escalated to comments made about my friends and who I should see, even suggesting I was selfish if I wanted to go on a run or something and not be home to hang out with him.”
Chief Inspector Baker went on: “I was made to feel guilty for wanting to take half an hour to myself. The thing is it wasn’t every day so you would make excuses for it all and of course there is love involved.”
The relationship became “more and more of a minefield”, though the coercive control was not constant. “One day would be fine but the next would be awful,” she said.
The relationship ended soon after an alleged assault which saw the police called. Chief Inspector Baker said she was left thinking she was going to die that night.