Domestic Violence can be anything from a look to a gunshot. Emotional abuse can be just as damaging as physical injury. Ask anyone who lives with the debilitating effects of manipulation and control. Emotional abuse has been described as the slow and silent hemorrhaging of the soul.
Take a look at the power and control wheel in the link below. You will see that the center is the motivation which is power and control over another person. The spokes of the wheel are all the ways an abuser controls the other person in emotional and practical ways. As long as those methods of emotional abuse work there is no need to advance to the outer realm of physical abuse. When abusers can no longer control their victim through their tried and true methods, they panic and escalate to physical harm. That is why the most dangerous time in an abusive relationship is when you try to leave it.
How does one escape a toxic relationship when they have been isolated from family and friends and any other avenues of support?
I’m not going to tell you 10 ways to leave an abusive relationship. That’s been done and you can find multiple websites with that information. I’ve listed a few at the end of this blog.
What I am going to tell you is that the battle of ending domestic violence begins and ends in your mind. Your future and that of your children is determined by your answer to this one questions: Do you love yourself? Emotionally healthy people would never let someone they love endure harsh treatment, including themselves.
At Racheal’s Rest we have a saying that we create the reality we THINK we deserve. If the loudest voice in your ear is telling you that you don’t matter, then it’s easier to believe that and stay where you are in life. At least you are getting attention even if it is negative and abusive. If you believe you are valuable and deserve better treatment you will develop a plan of healthier living.
We also believe when the pain of where you are becomes greater than the fear of where you are going, you will be ready to make a change. Only you can leave an abuser, but you can’t do it alone.
There are people who don’t even know you who care about you, who believe in you, and are ready to help you. There are hotlines, shelters, long-term residential facilities and caring people who will walk with you on your journey. Your journey out begins a long time before you walk out the door.
Your game plan begins with self-analysis. What has led you to this point of devaluation of self? If your friends and family wouldn’t be horrified to know what you live with, you need to find people who would. That may be total strangers who have walked in your shoes. Sadly, many victims of abuse have never known anything different. From childhood, they were given the message by their own parents that they don’t matter and they deserve whatever bad comes their way.
You can choose to not believe those lies anymore, but you may need a lot of re-enforcement to change your internal dialogue. Does your conversation in your head sound like this?
- It’s my fault. I made him/her mad.
- He/she didn’t mean to. It was an accident.
- He/she only hits me when he or she is drinking.
- It only happened once.
- He or she is not as bad as my ex (or father or mother) was.
- It’s not that bad. I can handle it.
- He makes good money. I can’t give up my lifestyle.
- Where would I go if I left? No one else would have me.
- He or she is just under a lot of stress. He/she really does love me.
And my absolute worst favorite excuse:
- I have to make this work because God hates divorce. (Don’t add spiritual abuse to your already lengthy list.)
There is a reason people stay with abusive people, especially if you grew up with violence. They are usually charming, manipulative con artists. They convince you they are right and you are wrong. But the greatest draw is the cycle of abuse. It goes like this:
- There is the tension building stage when you can feel it coming.
- The explosive stage when the offender is out of control and raging either with words or fists flying.
- The honeymoon period, wherein the abuser apologizes and promises never to hurt you again; usually followed by flowers, gifts, extra attention and the best love-making you’ve ever had.
Your brain has become addicted to chaos and if someone else isn’t creating it, you will feel the need to stir something up. In intimate relationships, you find stable, reliable people boring.
BEFORE YOU LEAVE
- Give no hint that you are planning to leave. This could endanger your life.
- Make copies of important papers and put in a safe place such as a trusted friend’s house, a safety deposit box or with your attorney or counselor. You should have your passport, a copy of your children’s and your birth certificates, marriage certificate, car title, anything you may need to have that he might destroy.
- Make plans for the safety of your pets and never leave the children with an abusive person.
- If possible put aside some emergency money in an outside location where you keep your important papers.
- Build a support system, even if it’s only a facility that can shelter you during the transition.
Visit these websites for more comprehensive information and advice on staying safe.