Child abuse, Domestic Violence, Uncategorized

Domestic Violence: Physical Abuse

There is a beauty in letting go.

I think physical abuse in a domestic violence situation is one of the easier types to identify with. When someone hits you, it’s hard to deny, although, it is possible to minimize the actions.

You don’t have to have a black eye or bruises to have been physically abused. Some abusers are more subtle, and make sure they don’t leave marks. Black and blues, or not, it still counts.

Some examples of physical abuse are as follows:

  • Pulling your hair, punching, slapping, kicking, biting or choking you
  • Forbidding you from eating or sleeping
  • Hurting you with weapons
  • Preventing you from calling the police or seeking medical attention
  • Harming your children
  • Harming your pets
  • Abandoning you in unfamiliar places
  • Driving recklessly or dangerously when you are in the car with them
  • Forcing you to use drugs or alcohol (especially if you’ve had a substance abuse problem in the past)

Most every time my abuser assaulted me, he would choke me, followed by a threat of my murder. Thankfully I was strong enough to fight my way out of his grip before I lost consciousness. When he would fly into a fit of rage, I knew my safety, and the safety of my children was at risk. I knew if I didn’t try to escape from his grip, he would have kept going until I was dead. Once he started, there was no way to get him out of the dangerous trance he was in.

I remember the fear I felt the first time I saw the look of rage in his eyes. I was uncertain if I would live another day. Thoughts about the future I would miss out on if he took my last breath flashed before my eyes. I’d never get to see my kids grow up. I wouldn’t have a chance to meet my grandchildren. I wouldn’t grow old.

Thoughts frantically raced through my mind. Who would take care of my kids? What lies would he make them believe? Would he even be held accountable for my murder? No one knows who he really is. No one would believe he could do such things. What would the headlines in the newspaper say? Would I be missed? Was he right? Would anyone notice I was missing?

The monster he usually was, became magnified. Reasoning with him while he was in this state was not an option. The only thing I had left that I could do was fight back. Find the adrenaline induced strength and become my own monster. There was too much to lose to let him win. I’m not sure where the strength came from, but I am thankful everyday that I was able to find it. I am thankful he did not own guns, because I know the outcome would have been different. I know I would have become a headline in the local paper, either as a missing person, or as a murder.

*Harming your pets

But that was just the bad days. There were normal days that he was abusing me, and I didn’t even recognize it as abuse. He was notorious for hurting my pets. Because I loved them, he would hurt them in front of me so I could watch them suffer. When my son was a baby, we got a kitten. The poor thing didn’t stand a chance. Had I known what his future was going to be, I never would have adopted him.

His name was Howard. A small, black kitten. Howard was playful, as most kittens are. He was sweet and wanted loved. With a small baby it was sometimes hard to give him all of the love he was looking for, but he was learning how to fit into the family. Howard picked the wrong lap to crawl into looking for love. He did not find it. He found brutality and abuse. My ex-husband threw his little body against the wall, and laughed as the little baby cried. Howard, and my son. I rushed to the kitten’s rescue, where he came over and kicked his little body, yelling, “you had it coming you piece of shit.”

I tried to keep them apart, but there were times I was unable to. As expected, after the abuse Howard faced, he became mean and started attacking us. I knew for his safety and quality of life I had to find him a new home. He was still just a baby, and I knew he was scared and craved love. My mom agreed to add him to her collection of cats. This way, we would still be able to visit him. Howard was never the same. He couldn’t breath out of his nose and his teeth had been broken.

My love of animals made me try again. We adopted a dog. I thought maybe this time it would be different. It was not. The first accident in the house and he was at it again. I didn’t wait this time, I returned the dog to the shelter. Heartbroken, but I knew staying at the shelter was better than the life with us.

*Harming your children

It didn’t stop with pets though. His abuse began with the children, too. If my son woke up one too many times at night he was called every name you can imagine, and manhandled. Never really hit…not then anyway.

When I wasn’t able to protect my animals or my child, I knew I needed to leave. I had a plan, and packed my car ready to leave while he was at work. A neighbor clued him in on what I had been doing, and it became too dangerous to leave. If I couldn’t leave, I had to gather the strength to fight back.

*Driving recklessly or dangerously when you are in the car with them

Most of this abuse stayed behind our closed doors, but there was one time I remember well he was unable to pretend. He was driving my new car, with me and my three young children in their car seats when he noticed a young girl driving. The girl misjudged the distance between us and pulled out on to the road. There was plenty of time for him to slow down to avoid an accident, but he hit the gas. He ran my car into the side of hers, and when she got out her car, she was already crying. He tears infuriated him, and he screamed at her, calling her the names usually reserved for me. My babies were crying, but I had to get out to comfort this young girl, who was obviously a new driver. She was no more then seventeen, and he attacked her. If I did not step in, it may have become physical. Because of his behavior, I told her to go. I told her it was’t a big deal, and I didn’t care about the damage. I paid the price later for the kindness I gave her.

These were things I didn’t know were abuse, not until I started talking to others and doing my own research. This is why it is so important to share our stories and our experiences. When we recognize that we are not alone, it takes the stigma away. It makes us feel less broken or damaged. There is camaraderie in knowing someone else knows. And when you see others have survived some of these horrors, you know that you can too.

I urge you to speak out, even quietly. Talk with others who understand, and who have been there. There is healing in the release of these things. You never know who you might help. Stay strong. We are in this together.

#DomesticViolenceAwareness

Beautifully Broken, we will rise again
Domestic Violence, gas lighting, healing, Hope, Uncategorized

The Truth About Domestic Violence

It’s not pretty. It’s downright ugly. It affects lifetimes. Yours, theirs, and ours. You can break free, but it always has a hold, somewhere, deep down. When you least expect it, the old thoughts and beliefs shine through. There are times when you think there is no way out. These thoughts will win the struggle. Is there ever quiet? Do the thoughts they fed you ever really leave?

Fear floats around, circling every free space, and slowly seeps in. Will you ever be able to walk down the street without looking over your shoulder? Will your voice ever speak without a slight quiver, as you wait to be called yet another name? Will the self-doubt ever fully leave?

Why is it that for every step forward there are so many steps backwards? A weight as heavy as a sack of bricks drags behind as steps forward are taken, slowing us down, but never fully stopping us. The pull backward causes friction in the world around us. People don’t understand why we can’t let go. They don’t know the fear that we have grown accustomed to. They don’t understand that after hearing years of the same insults and put downs it’s not that easy to shake out of our heads. They see the smile, but they will never know the pain it hides.

They don’t understand why we can’t accept a compliment. They don’t get why we don’t see how amazing we really are. They don’t look into the same mirror that we do. A tainted mirror, showing us the monster they made us out to be. Not only did we hear the words that were spoken, now they are all we see. We blink our eyes a few times, and our true self emerges, only to be whisked away to the shadows. No, we are much too broken to see the truth, to see the beauty that everyone else sees.

This is our poison. The elixir they made us drink still circulates our cells. How could we not still believe these lies, when they became our reality?

“You’re such a fat slob.”

“No one will ever love you.

You’re worthless.”

“You’re crazy.

“You need me.

“You’ll never be anyone.”

“You don’t know how to have fun.”

“You’re a whore.”

“You’re lucky I love you.”

“The kids don’t even love you. They won’t miss you. No one will. They won’t even notice you are gone.”

The list is endless of the hurtful things you are made to believe about yourself. Your dreams disappear. What do you have to offer anyway? You give up. Withdraw from life. Withdraw from the people you love. You don’t deserve their love anyway. You put your head down, and you accept that this is your life. You see other couples, and you long for what they have. They look like they really love each other. Jealousy flushes your face as you imagine a life of happiness, a life of love. And then you remember. All the things he said come rushing back. Maybe he’s right.

The constant nag of the what ifs fill the silence. What if I had never went on that date? What if I never returned his call? What if I dumped him when I knew? What if I left him the first time he called me names? What if I had left him the first time he hit me? What if I was strong enough to see my worth?

What if he killed me? Or…what if killed becomes kills? What if I will be his prisoner for all eternity?

And that is when the anger kicks in. Rage.

No. He does not have that right to take any more from me than he already has.

No. He does not get to haunt my thoughts.

No. He will not destroy the hope that I have left.

The what ifs are just a product of his abuse, of all of the abuse I have ever endured. The what ifs keep me paralyzed, and I refuse to give in. I refuse to stand still. I refuse to remain quiet.

Unlike many others, I am free. I was able to make my escape once he was arrested. And, I am in counseling to work through the PTSD his abuse caused me. I will have good days, and I will have bad days. I will honor the lessons, and learn from the life of Hell I lived. I will turn my anger into action. I will not be silenced. I will fight back with information. I will share my truth, and I will not hold anything back. Secrets have no power once they are exposed.

I will speak until my voice stops trembling. I will go to counseling until I can see who I really am, not who I was made to believe I am. I will allow myself to get angry, and sad. I will feel everything, and anything. I will not minimize the trauma I went through.I will work through the guilt I feel for not leaving sooner.

I will not stop being me. I am a survivor. I am a fighter. I am an advocate.

My voice will be the voice for all others. My voice will be for the ones who cannot get away, or never did. My voice is strength, and my best weapon. I will turn my anger into good. I will be who I was never expected to be. I will learn to be my best self. I will shake the words I was forced to believe out of my head. I will see myself as others do. I will love myself. I will cherish the real, genuine, safe, honest love that I found, because I am worthy of it all.

Domestic Violence, gas lighting, Uncategorized

What is Domestic Violence?

I get asked a lot what domestic violence is, and what kinds of abuse is included in the definition. The simple answer is: If you feel that you were a victim of Domestic Violence, you were. If someone made you fear for your life, made you question reality, forced you to have sex (even if you were married), isolated you from friends or family, gave you a black eye, or threatened to, then you have experienced domestic violence. If you have experienced none of those things mentioned, you might have experienced domestic violence as well.

The thing is, there are so many varieties of domestic abuse that it is hard to include every incident that may be considered domestic violence.

Domestic Violence, also known as Intimate Partner Violence is a pattern of abusive behavior used by one partner with the intention to control and dominate another partner in an intimate relationship.

Domestic violence does not discriminate. Anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion or gender can be a victim of domestic violence. It can happen to people who are married, living together or who are dating, it can also happen to people who are separated. It affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels.

Domestic violence includes behaviors that physically harm, provoke fear, prevent a partner from doing what they wish or force them to behave in ways they do not want. It includes the use of physical and sexual violence, threats and intimidation, emotional abuse and withholding access to finances. Many of these different forms of domestic violence/abuse can be occurring at any one time within the same intimate relationship.

All forms of abuse come from the abuser’s desire for power and control.

Power and Control Wheel

Abuse can be difficult to identify, because an abusive person doesn’t always act this way. Sometimes they may be loving and kind. But if you often feel afraid of upsetting your partner, and change what you do to avoid their anger, then this is a sign that you are being abused.

Warning Signs of Domestic Violence

It’s not always easy to tell at the beginning of a relationship if it will become abusive. People are often on their best behavior at the start of a relationship. Possessive and controlling behaviors usually don’t appear suddenly, but instead develop and intensify as the relationship grows., appearing so slowly, that you don’t even notice they are there.

It can also be hard to identify your relationship as being one with domestic violence because domestic violence does not look the same in every relationship. Every relationship is different. But one thing most abusive relationships have in common is the abusive partner does many different kinds of things to have more power and control over their partner.

Some of the signs of an abusive relationship include a partner who:

  • Criticizes you, makes you feel that you are not good at anything
  • Calls you crazy
  • Gas lighting- alters your reality
  • Minimizes the abuse that is happening
  • Blames the abuse on you. “You made me hit you.” “If you didn’t do ______, I wouldn’t have _____.”
  • Insults, demeans or shames you with put-downs
  • Shows extreme jealousy of time spent with your friends and time spent away
  • Keeps you or discourages you from seeing friends or family members
  • Prevents you from working or attending school
  • Controls all of the fiances spent in the household
  • Takes your money or refuses to give you money for necessary expenses
  • Looks at you or acts in ways that frighten you
  • Controls your every move: who you see, where you go, or what you do
  • Prevents you from making your own decisions
  • Tells you that you are a bad parent or
  • Threatens to harm or take away your children
  • Destroys your property
  • Threatens to hurt or kill your pets
  • Uses weapons to intimidate you
  • Pressures you to have sex when you don’t want to or do things sexually you’re not comfortable with
  • Pressures you to use drugs or alcohol

Some of the forms of Domestic Violence include:

Physical Abuse

Emotional Abuse

Sexual Abuse and Coercion

Financial Abuse and control

Digital abuse

The next few blogs will explain a little about each of the above types of abuse. This is just a list, there are other ways that domestic violence could be affecting you, or someone you love. Don’t minimize the situation. If it affects you, leaves you feeling bad about yourself, or unsafe it counts. As mentioned above, every relationship is different, so every form of abuse and how it unfolds is different.

Remember YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

You deserve to be safe and to be loved.

Reach out for help when you are ready. You are worth it.

If you are ready to ask questions, or get help for you or a loved one, look for your local domestic violence center. If you are unsure where to start, call The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.

***Much of this information was found at: https://www.thehotline.org .They are a wonderful resource and a great place to start to find information and the strength you may be searching for.

#DomesticViolenceAwareness