It is estimated that one in four women will fall victim to domestic violence and that about 2 million men per year beat their partners.* As a woman these statics are scary but as someone that has experienced abuse at the hands of a significant other it is painful to know that there are so many women and men going through such trauma. In my case our arguments and fights escalated, from verbal ridicule to me lying at the bottom of the stairs being repeatedly kicked in the stomach wondering how in the world I got here. I’m sure this is a question that many women (and men) ask themselves when they are stunned by the blow of physical and emotional violence. It’s confusing when the person that you love and that claims to love you is the one that hurts you the most.
My experience came with my first real relationship which only lasted six years, but scarred me for many more. I learned to fight dirty and adapted a take no holds barred attitude, which I carried with me to other relationships as I was determined to remain in control. In my baggage I also toted a lot of unforgiveness, mistrust, hatred against men, anger and resentment. Needless to say, I was bitter for a while and I do believe that it contributed to one of the reasons that I have been single or in perpetual girlfriend status for so long. I simply would not allow myself to be loved. In some instances I even noticed that I became the abuser verbally as I can be vicious with my words. Hindsight truly is 20/20 and I wish that I knew the things I know now about letting go of the past, practicing forgiveness and loving yourself while going through that experience. So, these are six things I would have told my younger self and anyone currently in an intimate violent situation.
Get out NOW: Run like the wind, I know it’s cliché but I mean this very seriously! If nothing else to put some distance between you and the aggressor until they can seek the help needed. Even then watch their actions closely before returning. As someone who experienced it first hand, I can truly tell you that unless help is sought most likely things will only get worse. Recognize the fact that you can make the decision to leave, there are women all over the world that don’t have that option or aren’t given the chance.
Better yourself, NOW: Don’t wait for years to pass you by, if you have to get therapy do so, there is no shame in seeking help. Don’t worry about what others will think and do what’s needed to become a more complete you. I spent six years in a horrible relationship and the next nine to ten engulfed in bitterness and an attitude that was truly counter productive to the life I said I wanted to live. That’s approximately sixteen years of my life wasted in useless practices. Don’t make that mistake!
Seek out support, NOW: If it’s good friends, a family member or a domestic violence support group definitely don’t go through it alone. Do not remain isolated and think that you have to do everything on your own. Seek out supportive people that you can lean on when you’re weak and that you know will be there for you through it all.
Take back your power, NOW: Going through some of the things I have in the past with men, it was easy for me to blame them and use those experiences as excuses for my current actions and problems. I became extremely comfortable playing the victim role. Having a victim mentality only served to place me further into an unproductive state and allowed those instances to form an even stronger hold over my life and future. Yes, being in a violent relationship can be extremely traumatizing but eventually you will have to move past it if you want to live an empowered and victorious life.
Get to know God, NOW: I’m sure had I been where I needed to be on my walk with God, I never would have placed myself in such a horrible situation. Even if I had, I would have had a foundation needed to recuperate in a healthier manner. Reading the bible has helped me become a better person and the standards of God’s words are priceless when put into action.
Practice forgiveness, NOW: In my case it took me a looooonnnng while to totally forgive and honestly this would still be a hard one for me to do immediately. So maybe this is more of a now or later piece of advice, but either way somewhere down the line forgiveness must be extended. What helped me finally be able to release and forgive was to recognize some of the reasons he was prone to exhibiting anger in such a violent manner. I also had to take responsibility for my role in the reason we interacted so explosively as a couple. Some people say it helps to picture that person as a hurting child and tackle it from that perspective. Maybe they had a horrible childhood and violence was all they knew or they have some deeply imbedded insecurities. While not excusing their actions, recognizing their flaws and possible reasons for the reactions may assist with making forgiveness an easier process.
be light, be love, be blessed
Useful domestic violence links:
*National coalition against domestic violence and U.S Justice Department