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The aftermath of domestic violence: Anne has been living with a brain injury that was caused by her partner 25 years ago.

Bartira Augelli for The Circular. Org

The human life expectancy in Ireland is approximately 29.930 days. Our brain possesses selective memory; therefore we don’t remember the days of our lives but moments, the ones that were in some way meaningful to us, many memories of our days fades away in our subconscious and we keep the ones that matter most.

Our memories are part of our identity, and because of our selective memory, our brains tend to remember the positive ones. The University of Lund in Sweden carried out an investigation in which he discovered that thanks to selective memory we can train our mind to forget difficult events. According to science it’s not everything can be forgotten, however if we keep training our minds to repress and forget, eventually our selective memory will erase the memories of unpleasant moments in our brain.

Anne, an Irish lady who has been living approximately for 9.100  days with a brain injury that was caused by her partner 25 years ago. After that day, Anne has lost her ability to talk, part of her body is paralysed, and she suffers from severe headaches. One day of her life has changed completely the rest of her days. Unfortunately, Anne is not able to talk, therefore, it’s not possible to know how much of the day that she suffered from domestic violence she still remembers. Sometimes she looks at her son and asks “why” , one of a few words she’s still able to pronounce.

The most impressive thing about Anne is how lively, charming and communicative she is. As mentioned in the paragraph above, she’s only able to pronounce a few words: “ why”, “oh my good”, “take out “,” never” “good by” and “ I love you”. However, even with the vocabulary limited, she is still able to express her feelings and personality in a way that many people who possess a vast vocabulary wouldnd.

Anne loves singing, she doesn’t pronounce words but she expresses herself beautifully while singing, she also loves to play the piano and when she is in a very good mood, she dances in the wheelchair. She has an artistic and fashion sense, all the clothes she wears, she is the one who picks and the one that decides what to wear. She is the kind of person that brings light to the room and that is really hard not to like.

Photo by Bartira Augelli for The Circular. Org

Anne has a strong bond with her middle son, Edward, he’s been looking after her welfare for many years. When she suffered the brain injury, Edward was only 17 and two weeks before doing his leaving cert. According to him, it was something very difficult to cope with but he was not surprised when he learned the news as her parents wouldn’t go physical but would screen a lot and eat each other, his parents didn’t have drugs or alcohol issues, but Anne suffered from mental Illness that would make her screen for hours and hours driving her partner mad and occasioning arguments and problems.

  When I asked Edward why he didn’t separate since the situation was chaotic, he replied that they were poor therefore they were “stuck” together. He mentioned that when he was a child, his mom spent a time apart  from his dad and they went to live in the flats provided by the government in Ballymount. After the hiato in their relationship, his mom went back to his dad to live in their own house in Swords. According to him, after she gave up the flat, it wouldn’t be that easy to get it back.

Because of her brain injury, she spent the years after her injury between her sister house, facilities cares, Edwards house and now she’s been living in the Northwood facility care in Santry.  Anne’s days like the other residents of the Northwood are very similar, the staff is very friendly and the room has lots of space, but most of the time there’s not much to do there since she has no interest in engaging in social activities with the other residents.

Every Sunday, Edwards goes to collect her mom, he brings her to Liffey valley shopping centre. They have lunch together, then he brings her to shopping clothes, Ann choose the dress that she likes most, after that they go to the supermarket where she can choose the thighs she wants to eat in the week, the Northwood facility give her food but things like chocolates and soya drinks Edward buys for her every Sunday. Once they are back to Northwood, if Anne is not too tired, she will sing and they will play the piano together. She often looks at him and says “ I love you”.

The day that Anne spent with her soon, is probably her favorite in the week. It’s touching to see the bond they have together and the artistic and charismatic side of Anne, even with her brain injury and communication issues, she is still someone with a strong and charming personality.

What happened to Anne years ago, unfortunately, is something that is still  a massive problem in as it shoes the Safety Ireland Report 1 in 4 Irish women have experienced physical or sexual violence by a partner or non-partner since the age of 15.

 Domestic violence not only destroys lives of the ones suffering but also brings a massive impact on the lives of the ones that like Edward were exposed to domestic violence. Domestic violence has also a significant impact on children’s mental health. Recently,  studies have found strong links with poorer educational outcomes and higher levels of mental health problems.

Anne is a brave and resilient survivor, her story shows the life and the face behind the statistics as the victims are beyond a number. Our memory is indeed selective, however not everything can be forgotten, Anne’s story and the massive problem we are facing in domestic violence should not be forgotten.

The video below, was made by last year and shows bond between Anne and her soon.

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