What is abuse?

Domestic Violence is alive and well, but knowing the signs will help you stay safe.  Many people are living in relationships that are abusive.  There seem to be many myths about abuse, but most are not true and put both partners at risk.  Let’s take a look at them, and talk about a few.

1) He/she will change.

Many partners stay in relationships because of the cycle of violence.  There is a cycle of violence that includes an event of abuse (whether physical or emotional), initial remorse by the abuser, loving behavior trying to make up for the abuse, bit it doesn’t last.  This cycle can take days to repeat, or weeks, but it does repeat.  There is little motivation for the abuser to change as long as the cycle stays the same.  The abuser tends to blame the victim for the abuse, chipping away at the persons self-esteem and making them question their abilities.  Abusers don’t wake up one day, and treat others with respect.  They need help to change ideas and behaviors that are a part of their personality.  They need to learn different ways, and they need help.  Don’t expect them to change without support.

2) I can’t make it on my own.

Many abusers will threaten their victims related to children, money, and so many other things.  They might say that no one else will ever want them, and if they try to leave, they will never be able to take their children.  With support, victims become survivors and there is help.  In most communities there are agencies that understand the cycle and have shelters where families can stay while they get away from the violence.  A victim might question whether they can get away, but a survivor will tell you it can happen.  There are many survivors of domestic violence, and with the help of friends, family, and advocates, you can make it on your own.

3) If I try to leave he will kill me.

The most dangerous time for a victim of domestic violence is when they try to leave.  That is why you  need support.  You know the abuser best, including schedules, when a window might open, and what you need to take with you.  With the help of an advocate, you can develop an exit plan and execute your plan, taking your kids, paperwork, and anything else you need when you leave.  Find help, and it can happen.

4) But I love him.

Love is not about violence and abuse.  The abuser needs help, and if you can get someone to get into counseling without leaving that’s okay, but generally that doesn’t happen without police involvement and no contact orders while the abuser learns new skills.  I’m convinced that people who love each other separate and live separately every day for different reasons.  You should never have to live in a relationship where you are physically hurt, or emotionally abused to the point it makes you question yourself and your own worth.

5) My kids don’t see anything.  They are okay.

Kids are resilient, but they are also very smart.  They hear everything and even if they don’t see things, they know what’s happening.  They take on traits of a victim or an abuser and it affects their functioning in school and life.  Parents have to make decisions about how to best care for their children, but staying in an abusive relationship is not healthy for you or your kids.  If you stay in an abusive relationship, you run the risk of involvement from protective services, and even loosing your kids.  Kids do see things, and they will talk about it.  They are not okay.

These are just a few myths about domestic violence.  There are so many agencies and advocates to help you better understand how to get help, get out, and get safe.  Get more information here.  The more you know, the more that these myths don’t hold up.  You can’t be happy and abused.