Alternative Stories

Alternative Stories

There are situations you face in life where it's fitting to apply Alternative Stories so you can focus on the major and forgo the minor. Like when someone cuts you off in traffic. You can create an alternative story that he either has an emergency, or he has a bad case of diarrhoea. Or when someone doesn't pick your calls or respond to WhatsApp messages even when they read them. It's okay to create Alternative Stories that the person is just busy, in a meeting or driving. For your sanity sake, it makes sense not to occupy your mind with what you can't change.
However, there are certain situations in life where you MUST NOT create Alternative Stories. Like situations of Domestic Abuse or Gender-Based Violence (GBV). Having a man punch you in the head or a woman pull a knife on you is not something you create alternative stories around. Rather, it is a reality you must confront and evaluate to see if you are at risk. This is not time to create excuses like 'he is just upset', or 'he had a bad day at work', or 'her hormones are on overdrive'. No, this is the time for you to face the fact and decide. There are many women who in the past have died because of domestic violence they received from their partners. No, they didn't die immediately, but they did from complications of domestic violence like undetected internal bleeding, or injuries sustained from blows to the head.
Once you are a victim of domestic violence, DO NOT create Alternative Stories or excuses, rather you need to immediately make an evaluation. There are two sets of Checklist doctors used to determine the level of risk.

1. Lethality Checklist

  • Objectifies you (calls you names, body parts, animals)
  • Blames you for injuries
  • Is unwilling to turn you loose
  •  Is obsessed with you
  • Is hostile, angry, or furious
  • Appears distraught
  • Is extremely jealous, blaming you for all types of promiscuous behaviour
  • Has been involved in previous incidents of significant violence
  • Has killed pets
  • Has made threats
  • Has made previous suicide attempts
  • Is threatening suicide
  • Has access to you
  • Has access to gun(s)
  • Uses alcohol
  • Uses drugs
  • Has thoughts of hurting you
  • Has no desire to stop violent or controlling behaviour
  • Has a relationship with you that is extremely tense and volatile

Count the items that apply to your current relationship. The higher the number of items from this list, the greater your danger potential.

2. Physical Abuse Ranking Scale

  • Throwing things, punching the wall
  • Pushing, shoving, grabbing, throwing things at you
  • Slapping with an open hand
  • Kicking, biting
  • Hitting with closed fists
  • Attempted strangulation
  • Beating up, pinning to the wall or floor, repeated kicks and punches
  • Threatening with a weapon
  • Assault with a weapon

The scale depicts an increasing risk with an increasing number ('1' representing low risk and '9' highest risk). Any violent act greater than 5 on this scale indicates a high danger potential.

Depending on the assessment of your risk which can go from mild to critical, you should have a "Safety Contingency Plan". This can range from simple things like avoiding arguments in small rooms or one with access to weapons like the Kitchen to calling law enforcement to protect you
One thing you must do is that you must have someone (on speed dial) who you know can come to your aid or organise to get you at the first call. This person must know he/she is that important. This 'I'm a private person' stuff we say nowadays can kill you.
Some other tips:
- Avoid alcohol. It may impair your ability to think
- Plan which doors & windows provide quick exit routes if immediate escape is necessary.
- Have all important docs in one place (Passports, certs etc)
- Have a bag ready (clothes, ATM, medicines, cash etc.)
Bottom line, BE SAFE! Don't take your safety for granted. The man that can raise his hands to hit you can also kill you and the woman that can pull a knife on you can stab you to death while you're asleep. Don't create Alternative Stories, face the facts, evaluate the risk & act.