Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

 

As a Domestic Violence survivor and now as an advocate to those who are still victims of abuse, this month is close to my heart.  While I have made it out through the grace of God, I am more passionate than ever to assist others who are still trapped.  

The affects of abuse can be just as subtle as the abuse itself.  Whenever, one’s physical, mental, or financial safety is jeopardized, it is abuse.  A black eye, a bruised rib, or a sore arm can be clear indicators of abuse.  However, financial control, mean spirited comments, harsh criticism, and constant scrutiny can be forms of subtle abuse.  Some require drastic measures of change and other require an honest conversation with yourself to begin a new and healthy normal.  

 

In the hopes of shedding light on this topic, I would like to share an article I had published in 2010.

  Why does he hit me?

  Is my partner supposed to control me? 

  What is wrong with me?

  What is it about me that says…I deserve to be hit?

  At least I know he cares when he hits me.

 

 

If these are thoughts that ricochet through your mind, you are not alone and there is hope.  The confusion and shame that surrounds the offenses you receive can be unbearable.  There are many reasons why violence ensues within a relationship.  Here are some reasons as to why you may feel trapped in your situation.

 

 

Faulty self-concepts

Have you ever said the following to yourself?  “I am not worth anything.” Or “I deserve to be treated this way.”  The meaning of life can be found through intimacy with others.  While we are independent beings, our relationships can govern our existence and the way we function.  Our relationships can even help or hinder the way we view ourselves.

You may feel as though your religious beliefs support your thoughts of staying in this relationship.  Are you finding that your religious training is being tested in regards to the role of husbands and wives?  If you have a skewed view of self, coupled with strong religious convictions to be faithful and obedient, it can be difficult to know when to take a stand.

 

Attachment styles

Within any relationship, patterns are established.  When good interactions result in good feelings, those in a relationship will work to ensure that these good feelings are repeated. Unfortunately, the same is true in reverse.  Unpleasant interactions become patterns as well.  Each couple develops their own dance and their own attachment style.  A few patterns are typical for abusive relationships: accuse-deny, demand-refuse, criticize-defend, attack-withdraw, attack-attack, and stonewalling.¹

History repeats

Violence within a relationship may have been the “norm” of your environment.  As a child, this pattern of instability, pain, regret, forgiveness, instability, pain, regret, forgiveness, and so on, may have been the only model of a relationship you were shown.

If your partner does not physically hit you, this does not mean that you are not a victim of domestic abuse.  The verbal threats, the criticisms, and the shoving are not okay.  If your partner attempts to control where you go, what you wear, how much money you spend, the amount of time you spend with friends and family, and/or accuses you of cheating, you too are in an abusive relationship.

 

 

Activating The Power of Thought

If you are in contemplation of leaving an abusive relationship, you are already a hero.  You have already taken the first step towards regaining peace and safety for you and, if applicable, your children.  The way you view yourself and the way you think about your situation may be playing a key role in your current life’s choices.  So here are some thoughts to ponder as you begin to take action.

  • Attempt to make connections between what “relationships” look like to you as a child and the way your current relationship functions.
  • Try to identify any “false beliefs” you have adopted, and begin to challenge them with your inner truths.
  • Try to become acutely aware of unhealthy patterns that you can identify.
  • Assess whether it would be safe to begin the process of changing these patterns without assistance.

If you have a history of violence and abuse in your past and want to shed the history of pain, help is here.  However, your safety is of grave importance.  So please do not read this article and make rash and/or life threatening decisions.  It is human nature to need assistance with some of life’s more challenging situations.  So please utilize the resources and links tab above to connect with organizations that are ready and equipped to assist.

If you would like a more healthy and functional way to relate to your partner, there are tools to be learned.  Please contact a mental health professional to assist you and your partner in gaining a harmonious and peaceful existence.

Silence and isolation are exactly what your abuser needs to continue their unfair treatment towards you.  So please; reach out.

 

¹Worthington, E. L. (1999). Hope-Focused marriage counseling. Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press.

Moving Forward

Moving Forward

Wings

The month of October was Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  It was filled with events and opportunities to speak out against the verbal, mental, spiritual, physical, and financial abuse many of us can find ourselves experiencing. But now that it’s over, I want to focus on how to move forward.

But first; a little of my personal story.

 You are a Stupid B**ch

You would be NOTHING if it wasn’t for me and your father

You are worthless

You do not deserve to carry my seed

Get your fat a** off the couch and run up and down the steps. (during pregnancy)

These are just a few of the statements I heard from my ex-husband during the beginning of our marriage.  These words bruised me to the core.  I heard these words so often that I actually checked my birth certificate to see if “Stupid B**ch” was anywhere on it.  I can joke about this now because this is my story of triumph and I own this narrative.  It does not define me in any way, so I can make light of it, as it was a weak attempt to break me.

I was young, undeserving of his abusive words, and grossly unequipped to respond to the evil and demeaning way I was being treated.  BUT…while he may have broken my wings, he forgot I had claws.

Something to Ponder

My faith in God and my unbreakable spirit allowed me to survive and soar after leaving my abuser.  But before I could act, to start ending the disrespect, I had to take an honest inventory of ME.

Why did I allow someone to speak destructive words over me?

Why did I sustain many physical injuries and minimize its effects?

What parts of myself did I sacrifice to allow my abuser to blatantly cheat for years?

 

After years of prayer and quiet soul searching, I know that answer.  It’s the same answer to why I had absolutely no feeling or reaction to my ex-husband admitting to me that he had feelings for another woman while we were still married.

Its because I was indifferent.  Indifferent to him, his abusive ways, his infidelities, and the empty marriage I allowed to become my prison.  I was completely apathetic.  I had achieved a focus of self-discovery, being ministry minded, raising my children, earning my degrees, and planning my exodus.

I am not suggesting that a man or woman should stay with someone who is a clear detriment to their purpose and destiny.  What I am saying is if you stay, make the most out of it while you take care of you.

Here are some of the ways I navigated my valley season that ultimately prepared me for the mountain top moments in my life today.

Activating the Power of Thought

Ask yourself the following questions.  While reading them, try to still yourself and be brutally honest.  Hard questions + Honest answers = Truth towards Healing.

  • Can you be authentically yourself in your home?
  • Are you guarded and distant with your extended family and friends?
  • What fear governs most of your actions or inaction?
  • What motives guide your choices?
  • Are you aware of the “why” behind your choices?
  • Have you lost parts of yourself to “fit” into the relationship with your abuser?
  • What are the benefits of staying?
  • What are the costs of staying?

After you have spent some time with your answers and you realize you are worth more than the current treatment you are receiving, slowly walk yourself through the following:

  • Identify YOUR true feelings
  • Identify the pattern (yours and your abuser)
  • Pay attention
  • Prepare for change

Whether you choose to stay with your abuser, as I did for 22 years with a specific strategy and goal in sight OR if you decide to leave immediately, it is ultimately your choice.  You are in control of your life and no one else.  What you decide for you and possibly your children will be the right decision for you.  But please check in with yourself to make sure you are making your decisions from a place of honesty, clarity, reality, and strength.

You are stronger than you think, and you deserve a life of peace.

**If you need additional support to gain clarity, please call our office to schedule an appointment.  Online coaching is also available. (804)-467-1488
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