Domestic Violence, Part 2: The Victim
Thank you for reading the second part of a four part series on Domestic Violence. This portion is about the victim. I have read books, I have listened to well known advisors regarding Domestic Violence. A large majority of what I have heard has been so helpful. It is more of an “I wish I knew then, what I know now” effect on me. My life would have been so different. Not just my life, but my children’s life as well. I had heard an expert on Domestic Violence on The Oprah Winfrey show, and he discussed everything in detail. I had heard him say the phrase “the first time you are a victim, the second time you are a volunteer” pierced my heart like a knife. My immediate thought was I never volunteered to be beaten! This man has no idea what it’s like to have to play dead so the beating would stop! He has never gone through what I have had to endure! He has never walked in my shoes and how dare he say that! Well, I was so angry. The flood of emotions I felt with that statement seemed like they would never stop. I thought about how disrespectful that statement was to all the women who are lying in their graves, how much they had endured, how brutal their deaths must have been.
After a few hours I settled down and I started to dissect what this man had said. After all, he did hit everything else that he said on target, all his other facts were correct. After contemplating so much about this that this is the realization that I came up with. To everyone that has experienced Domestic Violence, your story is unique. It is unique to you, it is personally owned by you. The sad part is that everyone’s story has an end result. You either leave or you stay or you die. You have choices. Let’s talk about your choices. When you are dissecting your choices and you compare plan A to plan B, you have to remember; come up with plan C if plan A or B doesn’t work for you. Sometimes you feel like to have to choose between one of two evils. Let me tell you, pick a different way. You have more options than you probably ever realized. I don’t want you living in hell without realizing that there is a Plan C out there for you. If you stay and think, “He’ll kill me if I leave” well, he is killing you every single day that you are in that relationship. The other important thing is you need help ensuring your safety!!! I cannot stress this enough. It has to be a well devised plan. Leave the planning to the experts. No one will judge you. You are a strong person that was made weak. Get your strength back and seek help immediately, not only for you but for your children if you have them. This has such a profound effect on them as well. Get counseling for all involved immediately. Get your mind healthy again.
I wrote this next part in the first person. The reason I did this was because just for a moment, I want you to walk in his/her shoes. If you’ve never experienced Domestic Violence this will help you understand how distorted his/her perception of things really are. Again, this is not for you to ever judge the victim of Domestic Violence, but to get a better understanding of it. And you have to think; if someone threatened to kill you, how serious would you take it? Here are some of the barriers that a victim of domestic violence faces when he/she contemplates leaving her hellacious situation. This is how the victim of abuse thinks.
Economic Dependence: How will my children and I be able to make it and who will support us?
Parenting: I cannot raise these children on my own. I need another parent for my family.
Religious Belief: Added pressure to keep the family together.
Extended Family: Added pressure to keep the family together.
Fear of being alone and on one’s own: I am very afraid I will not be able to cope with everything by myself.
Loyalty: If my partner was seriously ill, I’d stick by his/her side.
Pity: My partner is so much worse off than I am, I feel sorry for him/her.
Rescue Complex: I can help him/her get better. I just need more time and he/she will change.
Fear of his/her suicide: My partner tells me that he/she will kill him/her self if I leave.
Denial: I really don’t think it’s that bad.
Love: I love him/her. He loves me so much when he’s/she’s not abusive.
Duty: I take my wedding vows seriously and they say “till death do us part.”
Guilt: I think it is my fault that we are having these problems. I caused his/her problems.
Responsibility: I have to save the marriage/relationship. I have to work things out with him/her.
Shame, embarrassment, and humiliation: I don’t want anyone to find out or know anything.
Security: I want to be like everyone else and live the American Dream of growing up and living happily ever after.
Identity: I cannot make it without him/her. He/her completes me.
Optimism: I know things will get better, just a little bit longer.
Low self-esteem: I know this is my fault, I must deserve it. I will never find anyone better. At least he/she loves me.
Sex role conditioning: This is just the way other people are.
Survival: I fear my own physical safety! If I leave he/she has already threatened to find me and kill me and the kids and my family.
She/he does not need judgment, but just to be mended as well as the children.