Article: Reconnecting After Domestic Violence

Romantic relationships (and other relationships) have been different after dealing with the emotional/verbal abuse in my marriage. While my ex never hit me, he was violent to my surroundings.

Those interactions leave scars, and I found this an interesting article regarding relationships post abuse. What are the fears we hold onto? Why do we find some things more difficult than others? I found this a helpful/useful article. Continue reading

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How do I leave?

Those who are struggling with issues of Domestic Violence involve not only the person experiencing that situation first hand, but also those around them who know or suspect what is going on. While there are a bunch of resources out there for people in domestic violence situations, the difficulty is in getting those resources to the people who need them. Not only that, but it can be difficult to disseminate the information in a safe manner.

My situation was helped by the fact I had a good support team. When I got married, I made a promise to myself to prioritize my friendships and relationships with the people I cared about. If you are going through a difficult time, I know it is hard not to hide away and isolate yourself, but try to keep or rebuild some connections. If you haven’t, now is the time to slowly start establishing any relationship that is non-threatening to your abuser. Try and have something you do with enough regularity that it becomes routine and he or she hopefully doesn’t question it. This might help give you a break, and will help you make contacts that may help you if you need to leave.

If you are in a dangerous situation I highly encourage:

  • Have a safe word or phrase (or two). I had a safe word for “Call 911 and come right away, I am in immediate danger”. I also had another safe word that was, “We need to move up my departure plans ASAP.”
  • Do not use any computer or phone that the abuser has access to, or that the abuser can access the history or contact records of.
  • Be wary of your use of social media and instant messenging.
  • Create an emergency bag you can store at a friend or family members home.
  • Whenever possible, have someone else coordinate resources and plans for you, and perhaps be a point of contact. My mother did this for me. I barely had the mental capacity to get up in the morning, let alone function on any rational level due to my level of exhaustion. Below are some links you may find of immediate assistance.

Preparing to leave:

Creating a safety plan

No Act is Too Small to Make a Difference – Helping Victims and Survivors of Abuse

This is a fantastic post on ways to help those struggling with Domestic Violence Victims and Survivors.

Picking Up the Pieces

Many people who see the struggles and horrors victims and survivors of abuse endure and want to help but are often times overwhelmed by the scope of need.  Perhaps some mistakenly feel that even the small things they could do would not make enough of a difference in our lives.  The truth is, there are so many needs that must be met, so many varying circumstances even all the similarities in our stories, that anything you do helps, whether it carries financial benefit or not.  Here are suggestions of things you can do as “just one person” that can have profound impact on our lives.

Financial – If you have the means to provide any sort of financial assistance, here are things you, as one person, can do:

  • Donate money to domestic violence services by setting aside a small portion of your tax refund, inheritance, or bonus.
  • Donate old vehicles.
  • Donate…

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Reblogged: Staying, Surviving, and Defying the Good Victim Paradox: A Perspective on Domestic Violence

The post linked below was fantastic, although more for the friends and family of the abused than for those living in that hell themselves.

For me, I ‘knew’ my husband was ‘sick’. That he had a mental illness. I convinced myself that the anger issues were a part of the Bipolar. That somehow, it made it ‘ok’ on some level, since he couldn’t control that side of things. For the past four years it had been a slow escalation. Two 911 calls. A 2-week involuntary commitment. And endless manipulation. He would do what he could to check off the minimum of my demands, when I found the courage to set a boundary, that would allow us to go back to a comfortable status quo (I should add: comfortable for him). And always, I was frightened to push too far, and ‘make’ him do something we couldn’t recover from.

Growing up a dedicated Christian, and still holding on to that faith, I never wanted Divorce to be an option. I didn’t want to fail. Or be a statistic. I wanted to do everything I could to make it work. I didn’t want to ‘push’ him to the point I would have to make that decision.

Hindsight being what it is, I’m beginning to understand the flaws of my logic a little better.

It took a lot for me to break away: the amazing timeliness of 4 amazing, attentive friends; learning a long-time friend was pregnant, and afraid of my situation endangering her and her unborn child; husband escalating and growing more threatening to myself and others, as well as physically violent to things around me; and a friend, who started going to counseling, and reached out to me simply by sharing her very real struggles, and thus opening the door to those deep, intimate conversations where I began to reveal the daily occurences of my life. Her love for me, and her bravery in telling me she was frightened for me – helped me realize that enough was enough. I needed the reassurance that I had a safe place to go. I needed the active assistance of people willing to make the coordinating plans for my exit strategy – calling lawyers, researching Protection orders, arranging a safe place for me to go afterward. Mentally, it was all I could do to pretend things were normal, afraid that he would lose it if I did anything suspicious.

From the first time I called 911, when my husband – at the height of a manic rage – threatened to slit my throat in my sleep – to the day I finally left, took about 4 years and 4 months.

No one wants to be a quitter. No one wants to abandon someone who is ill. We all want to think we are strong, or strong enough. That if we set boundaries, and do all ‘the right things’, we can help someone change. That we can provide enough love and commitment for the both of us.

And by the time we realize it’s more important to quit, than to endanger ourselves and our families; that we deserve to be taken care of too; that sometimes being strong is not enough when someone is determined to crush the life from you; that boundaries only work when they are respected; that people cannot always change; and that you can love unconditionally, but that doesn’t mean you have to accept hateful, unloving behavior.

By the time I realized all of the above, I had been entrenched in this life for years. Sometimes I burned bridges with those who might have helped me. Fearful for them. Fearful for myself. Shamed that I kept running into the same struggles over and over, I stopped reaching out. It took a lot of gentle loving, openness, readiness, and patience on the parts of those who were concerned for me. And finally, finally I took that step and left.

Not everyone has all the support I did in leaving. Some people have the additional worry of children. I honestly don’t know how anyone could manage to break away without all the hand-holding I had every step of that last week. But I know some people do. And I have nothing but the utmost respect for them.

theradicalidea

“Why didn’t you/she/he/they leave?”

When it comes to domestic violence, I feel like this is often the most common question.  Why not leave–as if leaving is the most obvious thing in the world.  As several other media outlets and Twitter campaigns have striven to show, there are any number of reasons why someone doesn’t leave: they think it is their fault, they lack the resources needed to find a new place to live, they still love/care about their abuser, they are dependent on their partner for income or health insurance, they are trapped in a cycle of substance abuse, they don’t have anywhere to go…the list goes on and on.

The thing about these stories is that they illustrate an important point: domestic violence, from the perspective of the survivor, may not be black and white.  When people ask why someone didn’t leave, the truth is that they are judging…

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