It is not your fault, and yes, you can make a change...
A personal horror that spans all socio-economic areas is relationship violence. Incidences of violence, as well as sexual and mental abuse, are on the rise. More police are called to homes for domestic disputes than for anything else.
Relationship violence doesn't discriminate; all age groups, beginning with those as young as 13 and in middle school to those in their 70's, are affected.
Surprisingly there is still a stigma attached to being the victim in a violent situation. Women feel shame and embarrassment that the person who is supposed to love them is beating them.
The sub-conscious thought is that the person being battered has done “something wrong” by calling the police for help. Add to this the destruction of self-esteem caused by the manipulative batterer and you have a victim who feels that being abused is somehow her own fault.
Nothing is farther from the truth.
Many people who have never been in an abusive relationship have no idea how difficult it is to get out. They assume, wrongly, that all you have to do is file a complaint, get a restraining order, and leave. This is simplistic thinking.
Abuse victims are afraid to leave their abusers. Leaving is not that simple. It is especially difficult when you’ve been isolated from your family and friends, psychologically beaten down, and financially controlled. Women fear for their lives, the lives of their families, and even their pets. They have been programmed to think that the abuser is all-powerful and will carry out any threats he has made. The abuser owns the mind of his victim.
Once, while we were discussing a program we had seen on violence, a friend said that if a man ever abused her “he had better make sure I’m dead because, when I recovered, I would kill him.”
Easier said than done if the man is bigger, stronger, or has a weapon. It is so easy to tell someone in an abusive relationship that they need to get out of it. The abused woman needs some type of assurance before making this leap. The emotional battering exacts a heavy toll on making rational decisions.
Therapists describe this problem of incoherent decision making as "being fragmented". The ability to think clearly is gone. A battered woman needs basics and specific information; who to call, where to go, what to bring, how and when to leave safely.
Getting to a safe haven is paramount to survival. No one should stay in a house with an abuser. Do not ever believe an abuser when they say that “it” won’t happen again. Even the best of therapists can never repair an abusive relationship.
The best advice to give the abused person is to have them tell someone; a doctor, the clergy, a friend, and especially the police. Put it on record. Make sure that any and all marks are photographed so that it is not their word against the abuser’s. Document everything.
There are wonderful organizations that will help a woman to escape from a life of fear and pain. Contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
You need to remember the following and repeat it to yourself often:
- I am not the cause of my partner’s abusive behavior.
- I am not to blame.
- I deserve to be treated with respect and to live a safe and happy life.
- The only thing that matters is my safety.
Victims can become victorious survivors when they break away from abuse. No one deserves to be physically or emotionally hurt. That is not living a real life.
© 2011 Copyright Kristen Houghton
Kristen Houghton is a well-respected Lifestyle journalist who writes for many media outlets, including The Huffington Post, More Magazine and OWN.
She is also the author of the top-selling book, And Then I'll Be Happy! Stop Sabotaging Your Happiness and Put Your Own Life First