I have not explained in my blog adequately the situation with my domestic abuse experience. It has been weighing on my mind, as my ex-husband died 3 years ago yesterday. I felt many things that day, but the strongest thing was relief. It was finally over. We had been apart for 11 years and divorced for 9 at the time, but the abuse continued until his dying day.
I think many people don’t really understand what abuse is. So much abuse is almost deemed acceptable. I know that being raised in a home that demonstrated many forms of abuse, those abuses were normal to me. I was sexually abused by a family member at age 6, raped on my first date at age 17. Neither of these events was addressed at the time. In my family we don’t talk about feelings and problems are kept behind closed doors. There were varying degrees of verbal, economic, and emotional abuse between my parents, which overflowed onto me and my little brother as we got older.
I tell you all of that to explain that growing up in this environment gave me a belief that this is normal. Everyone lives like this…right?! Sadly, this is more normal than it should be. One thing I know is that no matter the degree of the abuse, the pain, feelings and reactions are the same. You eliminate the details of each person’s experience and what’s left?
- Lack of trust
- A strong desire to numb the pain
This is the short list. Some will find a way out and create a new normal – which I have done. Some will know only this way of life. I have pulled information on domestic violence from Hopesdoorinc.org a great organization in Plano, Texas. There are also links for other resources at the end of this post for my local area.
If you read this and see yourself in this information, please know you are not alone and there are people that can help you and your children get out of this deadly situation.
What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence is a pattern of behavior used to gain power and control over an intimate partner or family member. Domestic violence can happen to anyone regardless of gender, age, education, religion, disability status, or sexual orientation. Domestic violence affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels. It can happen within any type of intimate partner or family relationship – married, cohabiting, or dating couples, child abuse, incest, etc.
Abuse can take many forms and often escalates over time.
Forms of abuse include:
- Verbal (criticizing, name-calling, insulting your beliefs, race, religion, etc.)
- Economic (controlling finances, refusing to work, keeps you from working, etc.)
- Psychological (threats of violence, isolationfrom family and friends, accusations of infidelity, etc.)
- Emotional (continuous degradation, intimidation, manipulation, insulting, threats, etc.)
- Sexual (rape, using force or manipulation to make a person have sex, forced prostitution, etc.
Of the 24 red flags below I lived with 17 of them in my marriage. They did escalate over time and the punishments got worse the longer it took me to stand up for myself. I taught him how to treat me, so when I started to change the rules things escalated very quickly.
Signs of Abuse/Red Flags
- Feel afraid of your partner?
- Feel that you can’t do anything right?
- Get embarrassed by your partner’s behavior toward you?
- Believe that you deserve to be hurt or mistreated?
- Avoid topics or situations out of fear of angering your partner?
Does your partner…
- Humiliate, criticize or yell at you?
- Blame you for his/her behavior?
- Threaten to hurt you?
- Threaten to take your children away?
- Threaten to harm your children or pets?
- Force you to have sex?
- Act jealous or possessive?
- Keep you from seeing friends and family?
- Limit your access to money or necessities?
- Keep you from getting a job or going to school?
- Constantly check up on you?
- Threaten to kill or hurt him/herself if you leave?
Does your friend or loved one…
- Have frequent injuries resulting from “accidents”?
- Frequently or suddenly miss work, school or cancel plans?
- Receive frequent calls/texts from their partner?
- Fear their partner or defer to a partner’s rages or behavior?
- Lack assertiveness or have submissive behavior?
- Isolate from friends and family?
- Have insufficient resources to live (money, credit cards, car)?
How to Help
Most often, a survivor of domestic violence or dating violence will seek help from their support network, including friends, family or co-workers. The manner in which you respond can have a power affect on the survivor’s life and decision to seek further help. Remember, you cannot force someone to leave their abuser. While you can help someone leave a violent relationship, it is ultimately his/her choice to change his/her life and future. Please recognize that the decision to leave an abusive relationship is not easy and the survivor will need your love and support to do so.
If a survivor reaches out to you…
- Try to remain supportive and non-judgmental
- Let them know you believe them and want to hear about their experience
- Allow them to tell their story
- Let them know you care about and are concerned for their safety
- Support their right to be angry
- Don’t deny any of their feelings
- Respect the cultural values and beliefs that affect their behavior
- Help them assess their resources and support system
- Maintain contact with them. Physical and psychological isolation are powerful control tactics used by batterers.
- Avoid “you” statements, such as “you should”. Instead use “I” statements, such as “I’m concerned.”
- Offer them phone numbers for local resources. Call Hope’s Door’s 24-hour hotline (972-422-7233) for information on our services and local resources.
- Let them know that they are not alone, it is not their fault and that help is available.
These are valuable links to websites that will give you more information about our cause.
Below are some resources regarding personal safety.
I left my ex twice. The first time I didn’t have a support system set up and I felt guilty for leaving without warning. I was afraid of him. He managed to talk me into moving back home. I stated a couple conditions, which he agreed to, but little did I know the storm that was coming.
He could only manage his temper for a short time, maybe 6 months, but he had started drinking again, and he was cheating on me, which I was ok with because I had no interest in him anymore. All my attraction for him was gone, dead and buried. His anger and desire to punish me was growing. It went from verbal and emotional abuse to throwing things around the house, to throwing things at me, throwing furniture at me to ultimately standing over me telling me he was going to break my nose.
That was the moment…I knew that if I didn’t get out now I was not going to walk out that house one day. I knew he had the capacity to kill me. This was 6 months after 9/11 and I now had people I could depend on. The switch was flipped and I got out while the getting was good. I let him have everything he wanted to leave me alone. Well, he got everything and still called and texted me, found my new phone number when I changed and continued to call and text until he passed. He kept that underlying fear going for 11 years after I left.
The best thing I got out of that relationship was my step-son Shannon. I love him more than he will ever know.
I am still single today, because when I see red flags I shut it down. I am happy in my life as it is, but I still have hope that one day a great guy will come into my life.
Brenda the Brave