Every time, I have a client that is a victim of domestic violence, my heart hurts for her. They are very intelligent women, with good jobs and knowledge that they are in an abusive relationship. They come to therapy hoping they can either learn how to change their man, stop feeling anxious and depressed or they just don’t know how to GET OUT.
She can be the most successful, strong, smart woman you know in the company, but when she goes home, she is a timid, scared and abused woman. There are so many “successful” women that appear to have it all together, but hide behind a mask, because at home, they are victims of Domestic Abuse.
“He slammed me into a wall because I tried to hug him. We were having an argument and I wanted to end it. He scared me. He said he thought I was going to hit him (I never hit him) said he didn’t mean to hurt me. I went to work the next day as if nothing happened. I tried to wipe it out of my mind, he is usually an amazing guy.”
GET OUT….. is not just a movie, it happens in real life, to anyone in a Domestic Violent relationship. It’s the inability to think for yourself, it’s being mentally paralyzed and being trapped in a sunken place.
“He put the pillow over my face and said he can’t stand me. We didn’t speak for a few days. Mostly I tried to avoid him. Then one day, he suggested we take the kids to the movies, so I agreed. We had a good time.”
The concept of the movie GET OUT, is being mentally trapped in a toxic relationship with an abuser who pursued you, for their emotional gain. Yes, that movie was about race and racism, but apply the same concept to a woman in a Domestic Violent relationship. She is trapped mentally and physically by an abuser who wishes to dominate and control her for his emotional gain.
“One night he broke down the bedroom door to get inside the room and he attacked me. I was afraid he was going to kill me…it always crossed my mind that one day he would kill me. He made me breakfast the next day and he bought me jewelry.”
I learned about Domestic Violence at a very young age. I don’t remember how young, but I remember when I learned the severity of it.
When I was around 10 years old, I was playing with some kids at my neighbor’s house, a boy and girl around my age. I overheard a conversation between my neighbor and another woman. They said their Dad killed their Mom and then killed himself. They were orphans.
I had heard of a man from my home country, chopping his wife up and then drinking poison but it seemed like a made up story far away, it didn’t effect anyone I knew.
This confused and terrified me. I didn’t want that to happen to me and my parents, but what’s a kid to do in that situation?
At home, my mother taught me that a woman could lose her identity and give up her power to a man, if she was not confident and empowered in her ability to be independent.
At home, my father taught me that a woman who lacks self-worth and self-esteem can be attacked, beaten, cheated on, disrespected and verbally abused.
“We were on a date, arguing about what to get to eat before a movie, I was being difficult. I didn’t want the sandwich that he bought me. As we were walking down the street, he yelled at me and threw the sandwich.”
Something my mother instilled in me growing up was the importance of education and God. This will always be my saving grace to protect me from remaining in any emotionally or physically abusive relationship. It is because of my upbringing that I know my peace of mind, my freedom and safety are not worth staying in an abusive relationship for any reason, not for the kids and not for money.
Am I in an abusive relationship?
All abusive relationships are not like Ike and Tina. And you may not end up with black eyes or broken ribs (hopefully), that doesn’t mean it is not abusive and you are not in danger.
If your mind and body are telling you something is not right, DO NOT DISARM YOUR ALARM. We are wired to avoid danger, until we convince ourselves we are safe. There will be red flags with your partner. There will also be your own signs.
Mental health issues can manifest in women in abusive relationships experience, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, hyper-vigilance, malingering, somatization, physical illness.
Red Flags (What to look for?)
Control, Jealousy, Secrets and Lies.
Manipulation and verbal abuse disguised as concern or advice.
Throws things, breaks things, punches holes in the wall, etc.
Isolation from your friends and family. Finds fault with everyone, upset you spend too much time with them.
Jekyll and Hyde. He literally seems like two different people in one. You never know which one will surface or what triggers it.
WHY DO “STRONG & SMART” WOMEN STAY ?
Her mental health is affected the longer she stays and the more isolated she becomes.
She is emotionally isolated until she speaks up and tells people how bad it is.
Guilt and shame of admitting to abuse.
There is also rationalization, it’s not that bad.
I have to stay for the kids.
I don’t want to be alone.
All men are like this.
You cannot change this man. I know you love him and you believe he loves you, but he needs to get professional help. Every woman that husband or boyfriend killed them, hoped for the best. They all believed the charming, loving man that they met would return, only to realize that man they met, was not who he is.
Please understand that if YOU stay in an this relationship, for your “kids” you are doing a disservice to your children. Staying in the relationship is more emotionally damaging that leaving.
You can learn to effectively co-parent where your kids can still have their father in their lives if he chose to stay that way.
Keeping your kids in the home with an abusive man, is not good for their mental health. Your kids also learn about relationships from you. Your son learns it’s okay to abuse his wife. Your daughter learns it’s okay to be abused. Your children can end up back in a similar relationship because of the impact of staying, which they can then pass down to their children. You are responsible to break the cycle.
Whether it is just emotional abuse or physical abuse you need to get out. You can and will be fine on your own. Do not be ashamed that you were abused or could not keep your family together. Millions of people leave abusive relationships to protect their mental and physical well being.
READ PART 2 GOT OUT! Leaving for good! and my interview with Domestic Violence Activist, Shonda Roberts, CEO of Pain to Purpose.
Need help with getting out of an abusive relationship?
Are you in crisis contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline https://www.thehotline.org/
Imminent danger call 9-1-1.
Need to talk about the effects of this relationship?
I offer Free 15 Minute Consultations www.senecawilliams.com