Friday, April 10, 2009
If you know someone who is being abused, you CAN help.
Don't be afraid to let her know that you are concerned for her safety. Help her recognize the abuse. Tell her you see what is going on and that you want to help. Help her recognize that what is happening is not normal and that she deserves a healthy, non-violent relationship.
Acknowledge that she is in a very difficult and scary situation. Let her know that the abuse is NOT HER FAULT. Reassure her that she is not alone and that there is help and support out there.
Be supportive. Listen to her. Remember that is may be difficult for her to talk about the abuse. Let her know that you are available to help whenever she may need it. What she needs most is someone who will believe and listen to her.
Be non-judgmental. Respect her decisions. There are many reasons why victims stay in abusive relationships. She may leave and return to the relationship many times. Do not criticize her decisions or try to guilt her. She will need your support even more during those times.
Encourage her to participate in activities outside of the relationship with friends and family.
If she ends the relationship, continue to be supportive of her. Even though the relationship was abusive, she may still feel sad and lonely once it is over. She will need time to mourn the loss of the relationship and will especially need your support at that time.
Help her develop a safety plan. There will be a following post specifically on safety plans.
Encourage her to talk to people who can provide help and guidance. Find a local domestic violence agency that provides counseling or support groups. Offer to go with her or babysit her children while she goes. Offer to help her talk to family and friends. If she has to go to the police, court or a lawyer, offer to go along for moral support.
Remember that you CANNOT "rescue" her. Although it is difficult to see someone you care about get hurt, ultimately the person getting hurt must be the one to decide that she wants to do something about it. It is important for you to support her and help her find a way to safety and peace.
I also found and have "borrowed" this short list from Turning Point.
What to do...
*Do not confront the abuser
*When speaking to the victim, assure her that she is not the cause of the violence
*Be prepared for her to minimize or deny the abuse
*Help her identify her own strengths and possible resources
*Is she is living with her abuser and chooses to leave, discuss a safety plan if there is advanced time
There is a bounty of information out there in books, on the internet, etc. On the sidebar of my blog there is a list of links concerning domestic abuse. An especially good one that has a forum full of amazing people is Our Place (the link is just below my blog header). There is also a list of very helpful books on the sidebar.
Knowledge is POWER.
There is a definite lack of understanding about the dynamics of domestic abuse/violence in society. This lack of understanding can often be the GREATEST OBSTACLE a victim (I really hate that word... I know I've said it before) faces. Many people believe the following myths about domestic abuse.
1) "I shouldn't get involved in a private family matter"
Domestic violence is not just a family problem. It is a CRIME that involves serious repercussions for the victim, her children and the community.
2) "The violence can't really be that serious."
Domestic violence is RARELY a one-time occurrence. It usually escalates in frequency and severity over time.
3) "If it's so bad, why doesn't she just leave?"
Oh MAN, I could write a whole BOOK on this one alone! I got this from police officers (who, by the way, are SUPPOSED to be TRAINED to understand and deal with domestic violence... GRRRRR), from my own THERAPIST (C'MON NOW, REALLY?... where did she get her degree fer cryin' out loud?!), and from various family members, friends, acquaintances and coworkers. For most victims (there's that word again), the decision to end a relationship... EVEN an ABUSIVE one... is not an easy one.
*A victim's emotional ties to her partner may still be strong, supporting her HOPE that the violence will end.
*If she has been financially dependent on her partner, she will likely face severe economic hardship, especially if she leaves with children.
*She may not know about available resources.
*The social and justice systems may have been unresponsive or ineffective to her needs in the past.
*Religious, cultural or family pressures may make her believe it's her duty to keep the marriage together at all costs.
*If she has tried to leave in the past, her partner may have used threats or violence to coerce her to return.
4) "Doesn't she care about what's happening to her children?"
She is probably doing the best she can to protect her children from the violence. She may feel that the abuse is only directed at her, and does not yet realize its effects on the children. She may also feel that she can protect the children, themselves, better from their father if she is THERE with them opposed to the very real fear that he will abuse the children... or abuse his next victim in the presence of the children during his COURT ORDERED visitations with them.
5) "She's not being beaten... just emotionally/verbally abused."
First of all, there is no "just" when it comes to emotional/verbal abuse. For me, the emotional and verbal abuse was WORSE than the physical abuse. It was covert and made me think I was crazy. The CONTROL of it, the constant feeling of walking on eggshells, the TENSION of never knowing what he was going to do or say next, and trying to get ANY authorities to pay ANY attention to that kind of abuse is nearly impossible. And second, there's this fact: PHYSICAL abuse is ALWAYS preceded by EMOTIONAL abuse. Always. No abuser would EVER be able to just smack around a woman on the first or second date and expect her to stick around. An abuser chips away at his victim bit by bit and piece by piece, slowly and insidiously, until the victim is under his control enough that he feels he CAN physically abuse her. If someone is being emotionally/verbally abused... chances are good she will eventually be physically abused also.
6) "If she wants my help, she would ask for it."
She may not yet feel comfortable confiding in others, feeling that others will not understand her situation. She may also be so conditioned to PROTECT her abuser that she cannot bring herself to bring up the subject with others. Try talking to her about the problem of abuse in a general way.
Yep. I missed a day of blogging yesterday. I was just a wee bit exhausted. So I'm going to post twice today. I know you're all just so excited ::dripping with sarcasm::
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
You may have a friend, family member, coworker or acquaintance that you suspect is being abused. Most likely, she won't come out and tell you if she is. There is so much shame, fear and embarrassment involved that most women do not speak about their being abused. Many even cover up for their abusers.
Following are some signs that you can look for if you suspect someone you know is being abused:
*Does she have visible injuries, such as black eyes, bruises or broken bones/ Do you tend not to press further about frequent "accidents" or "illnesses" that cause absences from work?
*Does her partner exert an unusual amount of control over her activities? Are you reluctant to discuss the partner's control over family finances, the way she dresses, and her contact, or lack thereof, with friends and family?
*Does her partner ridicule her publicly? Do you and others ignore this behavior? Do you already sense the volatile nature of these comments?
*Have you noticed changes in her or her children's behavior? Do they appear frightened, exhausted, or on edge? Do the children seem to be easily upset? Are they experiencing problems in school, work or other activities?
Your support and validation can be of tremendous value to her. You can ease the isolation and loss of control she may feel by listening, providing information and helping to explore options.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
When you're involved in an abusive relationship, you get trapped by HOPE... HOPE that he will change; HOPE that you can keep the family together; HOPE that this problem can be fixed. Unfortunately, in all likelihood, nothing's going to change unless YOU change it. And that most likely means ending the relationship in order to save yourself from further abuse. Most abusers do not change. Let me repeat that. MOST ABUSERS DO NOT CHANGE.
In order to change, an abuser must FIRST realize and then admit he has a problem. Most won't ever even do this, unless it's just to appease you and manipulate you into staying. If an abuser really believes he has a problem, and truly seeks help, and works his ass off, then maybe, just maybe he'll make some changes. From everything I've read on this subject the changing process takes YEARS of hard work on the abuser's part. Most aren't willing to put in that kind of work on themselves. Why would they? Their controlling behavior gets them exactly what they want. Changing, to them, seems like giving up all control, and that's just not anything they want to do.
So here we are... the abused... hoping against hope each and every time they abuse us... that they'll "see the light" and change their ways... keeping us forever trapped by hope.
Here are a couple lists I've "borrowed" from Turning Point Services that give examples of TRUE CHANGE and examples of MANIPULATION MASKED AS CHANGE.
Positive Signs of Real Change
*He has stopped being violent or threatening to you or others
*He acknowledges that his abusive behavior is wrong
*He understands that he does not have the right to control and dominate you
*You don't feel afraid when you are with him
*He does not coerce or fore you into having sex when you don't want to
*You can express anger toward him without feeling intimidated
*He does not make you feel responsible for his anger or frustration
*He respects your opinion even if he doesn't agree with it
*He respects your right to say "no"
*You can negotiate without being humiliated and belittled by him
*You don't have to ask permission to go out, go to school, get a job, or take other independent actions
*He listens to you and respects what you have to say
*He recognizes that he is not "cured" and that changing his behavior, attitudes, and beliefs is a lifelong process
*He no longer does __________________ (fill in the blank with any behavior that used to precede his violence, manipulation, or emotional abuse)
Signs of Manipulation:
*He tries to invoke sympathy from you or your family and friends
*He is overly charming; reminds you of all the good times you've had together
*He tries to buy you back with romantic gifts, dinners, flowers, etc.
*He tries to seduce you when you're vulnerable
*He uses veiled threats - to take the kids away; to cut off financial support; to quit attending a batterer's program
*His promises to change do not match his behavior
Don't pay attention to the words he's saying. Talk is cheap. Pay attention to his actions, and listen to your gut.
Monday, April 6, 2009
Abusers really AREN'T too sneaky. They WILL tell you and show you who they really are very early in the relationship, but only if you are aware of the warning signs and are paying close attention. If you're one of the millions of women (or men) out there who are in the dating world, here's a short list of some warning signs (better known as RED FLAGS) that you may be getting involved with an abusive person.
*Constantly asks you where you are going, who you are with, etc.
*Insists that you spend all or most of your time with him, isolating you from friends and family
*Accuses you of flirting with others or having sexual relationships with others
*Monitors your clothing and make-up
*Displays anger when things don't go his way
*Attempts to make all your decisions
*Is secretive about past relationships
*Speaks of his exes in a derogatory way
*Makes negative remarks about women
*Was abused by a parent
*Was raised in a home where domestic abuse was present
*Gets very serious with you very quickly. Says "I love you" very early in the relationship
*Wants to move in together or get engaged after only a few months
*Pressures you for a serious commitment after only a short time dating
*Comes on very strong, is extremely charming and an overly smooth talker
*Isolates you from your support systems; wants you all to himself; tries to keep you from friends, family and outside activities
*Attempts to control what you wear, what you do, who you see, etc.
*Is abusive toward other people, especially his mother or sisters
*Blames others for his own bad behavior and failures
*Has unrealistic expectations, such as expecting partner to meet all of his needs and be perfect
*Is overly sensitive; acts "hurt" when he doesn't get his way; takes offense when others have a differing opinion
*Gets very upset over small inconveniences that are just a part of normal life
*Has EVER been cruel to animals
*Has EVER abused children
*Has EVER hit a girlfriend in the past
*Has EVER threatened violence to anyone, even if it wasn't a serious threat
*Calls you names, puts you down or curses at you
*Has extreme mood swings; switching quickly from being very nice to raging
*Believes women are inferior to men and should obey them
*Uses physical intimidation such as threatening body language, punching walls or breaking objects
*Holds you against your will to keep you from walking away or leaving the room
If you pick up on some of these RED FLAGS, save yourself years of pain and anguish and END the relationship NOW.
Friday, April 3, 2009
Here's a little checklist. If you can answer "Yes" or more appropriately, "Hell, Yes!" to even a couple of these, more than likely you're being emotionally abused. Remember, abuse is NOT about anger management, or short temper, or being beaten... it's about CONTROL... plain and simple.
Emotional Abuse Checklist
*Are you required to get permission to see or go out with your friends/family?
*Are there certain topics you fear discussing with him unless he's in a "good mood"?
*Does he tell you that no one except him would ever want you or put up with you?
*Does he accuse you of cheating on him when you are gone to run errands, work, etc.?
*Does he make threats to harm himself if you leave him?
*Does he open your mail, go through your purse, or rifle through your things?
*Does he control the finances and monitor your spending?
*Does he sabotage your efforts to be involved in family or other social events?
*Does he make disparaging comments about the way you dress or look?
*Does he use things you've confided in him against you?
*Are you fearful of returning home later than scheduled?
*Does he negatively compare you to other women?
*Are you nervous about talking on the phone when he's present?
*Does he use kindness or gifts to manipulate you?
*Does he regard your interests and activities trivial or unimportant?
*Do you feel more like you have a "father" than a partner?
*Do you receive the "silent treatment" from him when you want to talk or work things out?
*Does he attempt to turn the children against you?
*Do you feel obligated to have sex with your partner regardless of your desires?
*Are your outside commitments and schedule sabotaged by him?
Thursday, April 2, 2009
The terms "verbal abuse" and "physical abuse" are pretty self-explanatory. I noticed that when I told someone that I was being verbally abused or physically abused, they seemed to understand what I was talking about, even if only in a rudimentary way. Emotional abuse was nearly IMPOSSIBLE for me to describe to friends and family. It's such an insidious and covert form of abuse. People usually looked at me like I was CRAZY (I felt crazy). I had police officers show up during some of our many "fights" and assume I was using drugs because I was so hysterical.
Also, I can't count the number of times I've read or heard something to the effect of "he's not physically abusive" followed by something like "he won't let me leave the room" or "he throws things", etc. I, too, was a minimizer of my ex's physical abuse. He never put me in the hospital with his physical abuse, but he DID physically abuse me a great deal.
I also did not consider myself a victim of sexual abuse. I minimized that too. On a couple forums I've belonged to for quite a few years, I've read stories of outright RAPE being downplayed or even denied because the abuser was a "husband" or "boyfriend".
Some of the following information was found on a pamphlet that was given to me by the local victims' advocate many years ago. I remember what an eye-opener it was to me when I first read the original list. I've added a lot of things to the original list because I felt it was somewhat brief and lacking. It describes very succinctly the different forms of abuse.
*Being pushed, hit, slapped, shoved, kicked, pinched or choked
*Being kept from leaving
*Being physically restrained
*Being restrained from using the phone to get help
*Having objects thrown at you
*Being locked out of the house
*Having weapons used to threaten or hurt you
*Being forced to eat
*Being prevented from eating
*Having hair pulled
*Being a passenger in a vehicle being recklessly driven by him/her
*Being forced to stay awake
*Being denied medical/dental care
*Being denied hygienic products, showers, use of restroom
*Being forced into any sexual contact
*Being forced into prostitution
*Being subjected to unwarranted accusations of you having sex with other people
*Having unwanted pain inflicted during sex
*Being called sexually derogatory names
*Being criticised sexually
*Being forced to strip, or being forcefully stripped
*Being subjected to unwanted sadistic sexual acts
*Having sex withheld
*Having sex made conditional on your behaviour or agreement to include practices you are not happy about, such as the use of porn or sex toys
*Having your feelings about sex or sexual preferences minimized or denied
*Being forced to have sex after a physical assault
*Being coerced into sex
*Having unwanted sexual photos taken; having sexual photos shared with other people/internet without consent
*Being forced to have sex while ill or tired
*Having approval, appreciation or affection withheld as punishment
*Being isolated from friends and/or family
*Being humiliated in front of others or in private
*Being prevented from using the car, or being told when to leave and return
*Being threatened to have the children taken away if you don't obey
*Being threatened with weapons
*Being threatened with physical violence against you, your family, or himself/herself
*Witnessing him/her hitting walls, doors, etc.
*Being intentionally intimidated by him/her
*Being checked up on
*Being forced to move to an isolated area
*Being left with lack of transportation or a telephone
*Having your friends/family be made to feel uncomfortable when visiting so that they cease
*Being punished for being late home by his/her complaining, bad moods, criticism or physical abuse
*Not being allowed to leave the house on your own
*Being required to report on your actions and conversations
*Being prevented from working and/or causing termination of employment
*Not being allowed any activity which excludes him/her
*Having your friends/family criticised
*Being forced to be dropped off and picked up from work, etc., by him/her
*Having your pets and/or children abused to punish you
*Having important possessions taken away or intentionally destroyed
*Being "gaslighted" or made to feel crazy/unstable/off balance
*Having secrecy maintained regarding household finances
*Not being allowed to make or be included in decisions about finances
*Being prevented fair access to family funds/resources/accounts/checkbook
*Being prevented from getting or keeping a job
*Being denied sufficient housekeeping finances
*Being forced to account for every penny spent
*Having all bills put in your name
*Being forced to give him/her your paychecks
*Having money allocated to bills/groceries spent on himself/herself
*Being forced to beg or commit crimes for money
*Not being permitted to spend available funds on yourself or children
*Being yelled or shouted at
*Having threats made against you
*Being insulted and/or having your family insulted
*Being mocked or criticised about your interests, opinions or beliefs
*Being sneered at or growled at
*Being called derogatory names
*Being refused discussion of issues which are important to you
*Being laughed at or made fun of inappropriately
*Having nasty messages left for you
*Being accused of not trying hard enough or purposely doing something to annoy him/her
*Being blamed for his/her failures
*Being blamed for his/her abusive behavior
Today, I spoke to one of the counselors at my local women's shelter and asked her specifically what they could really use in the care packages, so I've got a better idea of what to put on my homework list for anyone that wants to do this project with me. Keep checking the sidebar list and do whatever you feel you can. Thanks again!
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Since April is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, I'm planning on posting domestic violence statistics and articles throughout this month. Chances are very good that someone you are close to has been, is currently, or will at some time be involved in an abusive relationship. These are just the facts. Domestic abuse happens within all races and ethnicities; all religions; all economic classes; either sex; and either hetero- or homosexual relationships... One can NOT define someone as being "low class", "uneducated", "poor" or ANY other stereotype because they are or have been in an abusive relationship.
Today, I'm going to focus on information I found on the Utah Domestic Violence Annual Report that was published in January 2005 by the Governor's Violence Against Women and Families Cabinet Council. I made sure prior to reproducing and distributing this information here that I could do so without permission (wouldn't want to get in trouble with the law or anything). I'm starting with Utah because it's where I've lived my entire life.
Domestic violence is one of the fastest growing and most serious violent crimes in Utah today. Over the past few years the frequency and intensity of this abuse has increased. Countless victims and survivors of domestic violence are enduring more severe beatings and life threatening situations than those in years past. In Utah, domestic violence is becoming more aggressive and brutal.
Domestic violence encompasses all races, ethnic groups, educational levels, social and economic classes, sexual orientations, religions, gender and physical and mental abilities. Domestic violence is unspoken and often faceless. For many people, it is hidden and rarely discussed in public. Many individuals don't recognize it as a public issue that significantly impacts communities, families, and individuals. It is quiet in our conversations and that secret speaks volumes for the continuation of domestic violence.
This violence is characterized as a systematic pattern of physical, sexual, verbal, emotional, and psychological abuse, which is predominantly directed by men against women. Rather than a series of independent acts or events, it is most often part of a process in which the perpetrator maintains control and domination over the victim...
I found this report very interesting because it focuses on the year 2004. That is the year in which I escaped the abusive relationship I was in. The following is some information from the same report concerning the Utah domestic violence shelters, specifically in the year 2004:
In Utah,sixteen domestic violence shelters provide services to victims and survivors. From these shelters during 2004, one thousand five hundred ninety-two (1,592) families requesting DV Shelter were referred to other communities because their local shelters were full.
See the highlighted line for Provo? See the 432 clients sheltered? Three of those were Maya, Penelope and me. See the 5,256 days of service? 108 of those days belonged to us (36 days for each of us).
I was lucky. My local shelter had room for my daughters and me when it was my CHANCE to escape. After I arrived there, the place was almost filled to capacity. Most of the 36 days I lived there, the shelter was at or above capacity. I was lucky that I didn't have to wait for enough beds for the girls and me. Most women KNOW when it's time to get out... and there is no room for error or waiting on room at the shelter. If I had been referred to another shelter in another county, I would have been stranded there in that county once I returned my father's truck to him. That would have terrified me. It was scary enough to rely on the bus system after having had my own car since I was 16, but to have to learn a whole new county's bus routing system... or worse yet, be in a county with NO bus system and NO vehicle and NO money... I don't know if I would have made it.
I will be forever grateful to the Utah County Center for Women and Children in Crisis. It was a safe haven for my girls and me. I made many friends there, and received free counseling, free food, free diapers for Penelope, free second-hand clothing for my girls and myself. Free tampons... something to think about here... how we take for granted having a few bucks to buy necessary feminine hygiene products every month... when you don't have a place to live or money for food, those donated hygiene products are worth their weight in GOLD, I tell ya.
During this month, I'm going to be assigning homework to all my loyal readers (all two or three of you! lol). I'll be doing the homework assignments also. Anyway, I will be posting a list on my sidebar, and will be adding to it each day. The items on the list will be things that will go into care packages for the women and children at the Provo, Utah, women's shelter. If you would like to help me out, check the list and find, purchase or make any or all of the items on the list. At the end of the month, I will be putting the packages together. If you live near me, and want to help with that task, just leave me a comment on my blog and let me know. I know a few of you don't live near me and may still want to help out. If so, you could make your own care package(s) and donate it/them to your local shelter. Remember: Think Globally ~ ACT Locally! Thanks in advance!