If you’re a victim of domestic abuse, there is help for you. You do not have to do this alone.
If your husband or boyfriend is hitting you or your children, then you are being abused. If he yells at you or threatens you, then you are being abused. If you feel afraid in his presence, chances are high that you are being abused. And, chances are high that it won’t get better unless you are proactive. Typically there is a cycle of events that looks like this:
1. Some type of abuse occurs – physical/sexual/emotional
2. Making-Up – apologies and promises – “it will never happen again”
3. Abuser acts like the abuse never happened
Thousands of women have been trapped in this cycle for months and even years. Something must interrupt that cycle or it just won’t change. Someone must interrupt the cycle. You must interrupt the cycle. YOU must interrupt the cycle. Before you interrupt the cycle you have to want to.
If you haven’t already done so, watch the video.
Admit to yourself that you’re a victim. Stop making excuses for your husband or boyfriend. Choose to escape the abuse. Choose to stop exposing your children. They are learning that abuse is normal.
Get help. Use the checklist on this website and begin to prepare to leave. It is essential that you do this secretly. Let a good friend or relative know what is going on. This needs to be someone you can trust completely. It’s best if they can help you out with a place to stay for a few days or few weeks when the time comes. It’s also best if they can go to the victim’s advocate with you. Impress upon them that your communication be kept confidential. If your friend is married, it’s not enough that you trust her. You must trust her husband as well. It’s important that your trusted friend not be the wife of one of your husband’s trusted friends.
Next, contact your local victim’s advocate. The local police department will either connect you directly or have a number for you to call. Make an appointment and pay them a visit. They know the local laws and resources and they stay current. They can tell you what your options are and how they can help. Take advantage of their knowledge and expertise.
Once you’ve made the decision to leave. Once you’ve moved out. Once your children are protected and safe. Then you can think about the next step.
As you start the process, you should ask yourself what the ideal process and outcome is. Let me suggest this:
- The abuser and you will both go to counseling
- He will admit that he has been abusing you
- He will choose to change
- With the help of a trained counselor you’ll both develop a strategy to reconcile
- When the counselor, the former abuser and you all agree that the strategy will be effective, you can move back in.
- You and your husband will follow up regularly with your counselor
Don’t rush things. The reasons for the abuse didn’t just happen. They have developed over time. It will take time to change. Expect him to try to rush things, perhaps telling you he has seen the error of his ways and will never do it again. Be careful. This is why it’s important to include the counselor in the decision on when to re-unite.
That’s the ideal. I have no knowledge of any couple getting through this while they were both living under one roof. The abuser must be motivated to change and without that separation, where is the motivation?
The decision to leave can be difficult and challenging. The issues can seem overwhelming but they are not beyond you. Thousands of women escape the trap of domestic abuse and you can too. But I have questions.
1. “I thought marriage was sacred. How can I just leave?” Marriage is sacred but it isn’t greater than the individuals that make that marriage. Jesus cleaned out the temple because it was being improperly used. How much more important are you than a building?
2. “I don’t think I can make it on my own.” Maybe not. But there is help. Take an inventory of your friends and family. If you attend church, you can reach out to them for help. Visit your victim’s advocate. She can help you get started.
3. “I’m afraid.” You have good reason to be afraid. If your husband or boyfriend has been physically abusing you he may get particularly violent if he knows you’re going to leave. That’s a good reason to keep your planning secret. Fear is not bad. But living without fear is so much better.
4. “I can’t afford to live on my own.” This can be an enormous challenge but women do it all the time and you can too. Your victim’s advocate will be able to tell you what kind of support is available and friends and family can be invaluable as you transition.
There are resources to help you. You can do it. The first step is up to you. You have to decide that enough is enough.
Here are some resources to get you started:
Finally, be sure to keep your communication secret and that includes your visits to any of these websites.
Stay Safe On Line has some good advice for keeping your computer clean.
If you’re stuck. If you simply don’t know what to do, please contact me. I will do my best to help you move to the next step.