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Strategies for Breaking Free Of Domestic Violence
A VOICE FOR SURVIVORS
The strategy for escaping domestic violence is the exact opposite of the strategy for surviving. To survive, victims avoid offending and challenging their abuser. They minimalize harm to themselves and bury their own resentments, needs and pain. They are totally focused on the needs of their partner and are careful not to reveal the violence or abuse.
To escape from domestic violence the victim must gather her strengths and assert power against the abuser. She must focus intently on her needs and those of the children, while suspending attendance for the needs of the abuser. Escaping requires repeated and open disclosure of the abuse in order to get help. This shift in behavior can be difficult and very frightening, especially when the victim is exhausted, beaten down, and terrorized. Try to rehearse mentally for this shift in strategy so you will be better able to focus your energies when you need them.
Do not be ashamed if you still love him. It is possible to love the abuser and at the same time, be conscious and determined that the violence and abuse must end. You know by now that the abuse will not end because promises have been broken repeatedly.
You do not want to get him into trouble. This is a common feeling. Sadly, when women try to protect the abuser, more harm may come to her and the children and the abuser ends up getting into more trouble. Should the victim leave without any protections in place, the abuser will usually escalate his abuse to re-establish his control. Instead, tell law enforcement EVERYTHING, get a restraining order and custody of the children, and have him evicted from the home. Should he so much as call you to apologize, notify the police, do not drop the restraining order and follow through on the criminal charges. The abuser should feel overwhelmed at this point. This serves not only to best protect you and your children, as well as to keep the abuser from even thinking about retaliations and from getting into more trouble. There are no guarantees, but studies show that the best way to stop violence is to put as much power of the system against the abuser as possible and to keep it there.
But the children need their father. This is a heartbreaking conflict for many. Know that no matter how serious the abuse, it is unlikely the courts will completely sever the relationship between the children and their father. Children of all ages are aware of the violence and abuse. In fact, the younger the child, the more serious the effect and it can be long lasting. By taking steps to stop abuse, children learn that no one has to take being abused. Talk to your children often as you take the steps to break free. Ask about their feelings, assure them that their father loves them, and will always be their father. Be honest and let them know that his behavior was abusive and no one should tolerate abuse, so their father needs a long "time out."
No, you are not crazy! Living with threats and fears of abuse are traumatic.. you are not losing your mind. You have been keeping your pain and suffering inside. It will take several months for this feeling to subside. Focus on taking care of yourself and on your goals. Take advantage of counseling services available for domestic violence victims to help in sorting it all out. You will be okay once you get back on your feet.
Reawaken your dreams. The hopes and dreams of domestic violence victims are many times extinguished by the abuse. There is no way to pursue or fulfill your own dreams when someone has violent control over your life, so your mind suppresses your dreams. But you will need them to help you through the obstacles and hard times of escaping. Dare to dream again. It is possible to find peace and happiness!
Remember to dial 911 in an emergency and to contact me at 318-992-2067 if I can help you in any way.
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