Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Decision To Leave

Relationships are supposed to be about love, trust, happiness, great communication, listening, disagreeing but still seeing eye to eye, friendship, closeness and togetherness. When the love of your life is away, sick or down & out it becomes hard to breathe or think. But are there warning signs shown in the beginning of a beautiful relationship or do things change down through the years.

My friend started dating her high school boyfriend when she was in the 11th grade and he was in the 12th. They were raised in the same small town where everyone knew each other. Years later they got married and to the union 4 kids were born. He was injured in the army, so the family moved back near the small town that they grew up in to raise their kids. I went home to this small town, nearly 5 years ago for Christmas to find my best friend with 2 black eyes and bruises on her body. What happened? I never knew her husband to be mean & abusive but always laughing, talkative and kind. She began to tell me the story that he was tired of working, didn't come home at night like he used to and became very aggressive.

One night while laying in her bed, he comes in the room, locks the bedroom door behind him and began to pin her down to the bed. He started questioning her whereabouts while choking her... She called out to him and stated that she had to go check on the kids cause she could hear them crying. He let her up, she runs to the door and he began to chase her only to be stopped in his tracks by his oldest 15 year old son. As he and the son tuggle, my friend had the chance to call 911 to her rescue. After this incident, she got a divorce, plus her parents & 4 siblings wasn't gonna let her go back to that. I wonder where she would be today if she had stayed with him after that?

What made him change? 17 years of togetherness and she never saw it coming. One day all was going well and then within months before the abusive night, things turned for the worst. Abuse typically alternates with declarations of love and statements that they will change, providing a "hook" to keep the partner in the relationship. Abusers are generally very needy and controlling and the abuse escalates when they feel they may lose their partner, or when the relationship ends. Remember that by staying you are condoning and enabling the abuse and helping your partner to stay sick. If your partner is unwilling to get help the only safe course of action is to totally remove yourself from the situation and seek help on your own. But why do those who are being abused stay? There is no real answer as to why but for those who come from dysfunctional families in which they were routinely beaten and emotionally abused as children, they know no other patterns of behavior and have learned to expect frequent incidents of violence.

  • They fear their abusers will become more violent—perhaps fatal stalking them if they leave.
  • Friends and family may not support their decision to leave.
  • They fear being a single parent with little money.
  • They may be unaware of sources of advocacy and support and shelters.
  • Most abused women have at least one minor child.
  • Many abused women are not employed outside the home.
  • Many abused women don't have property that is theirs.
  • In many cases, abusers have cut off access to cash or bank accounts.
  • Most abused women fear losing joint assets and custody of their children.

There is help for the abuser and the one being abused Be prepared for the abuse to increase after you leave - stepping out of the cycle enrages the abuser, as it shatters their illusion of control. (75% of women killed by their abusive partners are murdered after they leave.) Group therapy, restraining orders and peace bonds may help a little but won't keep the abuser away, talking to family may help, going into hiding (change of identity), shelters and support groups are some resources that can help the abused and the abuser.

Earlier this year when Rihanna & Chris Brown was in the news for his abuse, I heard women say that if he doesn't hit you then its not love. I couldn't believe what I was hearing and couldn't understand why would anyone want to be in that type of relationship.

In conclusion
Abuse is a family dysfunction that repeats through generations. Just as addictions pass down through generations, abusers often leave their families for a family of choice - then repeat the abusive cycle from the other side. The abused becomes the abuser and so continues the cycle.

I just wonder if my friends son, which is my godson and the one I named, is going to go down the same path.