Wednesday, January 28, 2015

You do NOT have to live like that...

Over the last three weeks, my friends and I have found resources for three women that I personally know who were in abusive relationships. Clearly, it's time to address the issue on my blog. I usually don't talk about it here. I had a Tumblr that I used for a while for therapeutic purposes. I quit messing with it because it was just a lot to keep up with...and I started getting better and finding myself again. While I will most likely write this in a way in which the female is the victim and the male is the perpetrator, I am fully aware that sometimes the male is a victim. I am also fully aware that this is an issue in same sex relationships. So, please overlook the archaic, gender specific language. If you are in a physically or emotionally / mentally abusive relationship, please get out. 

If he hits you, he does not love you. Do not justify his behavior. Do not fall for his "You make me do this. If only you wouldn't do...." Do not fall for his apologies. It is very, very rare that an instance of physical abuse is THE only instance. Most people who hit you once will hit you again. Past behavior is a good indicator of future behavior. So, unless they immediately go into intensive counseling because THEY realize they have an issue, don't even make staying an option. I can't tell you how many times the ex-husband dragged me out of bed by my hair. He also choked me. He also slammed me into a washer and threatened to shoot me. I was told it was my fault. I was made to feel like I deserved it and that I was crazy. 

Do not stay because you have children. I realize that you want to keep your family together, but is that the example that you want to set for your sons and daughters? Do you want your sons to think it's okay to treat a woman like that? Do you want your daughters to think that's when men will do because they love them? If you have the sensitive and brave child who tries to break it up, your staying puts that child in grave danger. Get out. Take your children with you. Take them out of school and leave. I have two older sons with the ex-husband. I stayed because they were little. Then, he left me. I was relieved, but then he started stalking me. He could have a girlfriend live with him, but I couldn't do anything - including work...without being harassed. We were, essentially, sharing custody and that was the plan for the divorce. While the boys were in school, I went and filed a protective order. I had to do it. I could tell you horror stories of what happened that led up to it. Cyber stalking, harassment, threats, him contacting my friends and family... The problem was that he had the kids when the paperwork was served. He used that as an excuse to not allow me to see my children. When he was served with the divorce papers with the custody arrangement, he took out the signed custody agreement and slipped in a different one. I was never served. My life was forever changed. However, my children are older and can tell the judge they want something different. I was very blessed with a good legal team that the YWCA helped me find. The judge was also fair and said she knew from the beginning something wasn't right. 

If you're in the legal field, you will draw a blank. It is really hard to see what you already know. That's because it applies to you and you will be blinded by your own emotions. It is imperative that you talk with someone and get an advocate. Do not take on the work yourself even if you are a highly experienced legal professional. Hi. I'm Robin. I'm a highly experienced legal professional. 

Name calling, constant criticism, and yelling are forms of abuse. It is a red flag when someone can find all of your faults, but can't admit, acknowledge, or find any of their own (nor do they care to address them). If you are always called names...and don't put up with name calling even in a fight - and you shouldn't call names either, that is abuse. If you are constantly told that you are worthless, stupid, ugly, etc...that is abuse. If you are always yelled at and cannot ever seem to do anything right to please your partner, that is abuse. I lived with all of those. Have you ever been told, "I hate you and I wish you were dead!" on your birthday? I have. Have you ever been told that you should just kill yourself? I have. Have you ever been told by the other person that they will find a way to ruin you and make you homeless? I have. That is abuse. 

Talk to someone at the YWCA. I can't say anything about the YMCA because I've never dealt with them. However, if you are a man and you are being abused then please contact them and ask for help. I know it's hard. I know you don't want people to know or even admit to it. You deserve better. Ladies, the YWCA can help you if you are in an abusive relationship. I know it's scary particularly if you live with the abuser. They can help you get a PO. They can help you get a place to stay with your children. They can help you with free counseling. They have an amazing amount of resources. I can tell you from's devastating and hard. I can also tell you from experience that you can get through it. 

Get ready for the comments. The comments will come. You might even get them from people you would NEVER expect like your children and some of the people you thought were your friends. If you get a weird, hateful text or email or some other form of electronic communication from your child, take it with a grain of salt. They could be really angry. However, there's a chance it might not be them. Comments may include:
  • That can't be true. He's looks like such a nice guy.
  • That can't be true. He is great at his job.
  • I can't believe you'd say those horrible things.
  • Why do you want to ruin another person's life?
  • A real mom / wife would just put up with it.
That's not an all-inclusive list. Here's the deal about most abusers....they often don't look like someone you would think is an abuser. We are conditioned our entire life to think about abusers as big, evil people. That's just not true. If they acted out in certain broad daylight - they would get into legal trouble. So, they fly low and do things when the public can't see it. Those statements are simply re-victimization. 

Find a support group. I don't care if it is a group in a church. I don't care if it is a group at the Y. I don't care if you find an online group. You need a support group. No, they don't just sit around bitching and rehashing. Maybe some do, but I was really selective about the one I was in. It was full of women that you NEVER would have thought could be a victim or a survivor of domestic abuse. Those support groups can act as a life line. If you need a place to stay, they can help you. They have resources for food and other needs as well. Surround yourself with the right people. 

Document, document, document. Fortunately, I have a background as a paralegal. I knew the importance of keeping good records. I did the best I could...but when your abuser is a computer expert, it's easy to have your evidence destroyed. Send back ups ONLY to trusted friends and family. Print emails including IP addresses. Take screen shots of your text messages. Get police reports. I know it's hard. Keep documenting. Date, time, event. A PO is just a piece of paper, but it is a paper trail. 

Get the right apps. There are apps available for smart devices. Some look like other apps so that your abuser won't know. Others, like Silent Alarm, are great because you can alert your chosen friends to call the police for you. It sends them a message and your location. You set up your chosen contacts. 

There are other things I can tell you from personal many things. Find the number to your local YWCA. The number for the Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-7997233. Please get out and stay out. You deserve better than to be hit or to be made to feel like you are worthless. You are not worthless. You deserve love and respect. 

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Play nice...the hand that feeds you can also choke you.