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You Can Escape from an Abusive Relationship
No one deserves abuse.
Abusive relationships are becoming commonplace. It just isn’t right the way we allow others to treat us. I know when I was going through it I didn’t really think I deserved better. I also was desperate enough for a relationship, any relationship, that I accepted the on and off abuse he gave me as all I could get. Now that I am many years older and wiser I realize that he wasn’t the end of my chances for relationship. When you are a teenager you just don’t think you will ever be loved.
There is life after abuse. I still remember waking everyday and praying I wouldn’t do anything to upset him today. Tiptoeing to the kitchen to fix his meals and wash his clothes. After a while you feel like there is no way out but inevetable death. Most of the time I was in the depths of a dispair that wished for death. Death felt uplifting compared to the dumps I was in. I’m here to say that is no way to live and there is a door out of there better than death. You just have to take it. Pack up and leave. I remember also I was afraid of being lonely. Trust me; the loneliest day without him was 100 times better than the best day with him.
To be able to tell if you or your friend is in an abusive relationship, I have compiled some questions to ask yourself.
Does he or she:
- Call you abusive and hurtful names
- Keep track of you every moment of the day
- Act jealous and controlling
- Prevent you from interacting with friends and family or even old activities
- Accuse you of being unfaithful or disloyal
- Demand the destruction of personal or sentimental mementos
- Hurt, kick, slap, punch, push, pull hair or bully you
- Flirt with others in front of you
- Coerce or force you to have sex against your will or wishes
- Assure you that he/she is the best thing that every happened to you
- Emotionally manipulate you by making you feel stupid, sorry or guilty
- Lie about you to make himself/herself look or feel better
- Threaten to hurt or kill you (or himself/herself) if you try to end the relationship
Who's fault is it?
If you checked one or more of these, you are in an abusive relationship. The problem is escalating at an alarming rate. “Research has shown 36 to 50 percent of American women will be abused in their lifetime,” according to Terry Miller Shannon, author of Abusive Relationships: How to Avoid Them. Shannon states, “Battering is the greatest case of injury to women—more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined.” “Approximately one in three girls will be sexually abused before the age of 18” according to Prevention & Motivation Program, Inc., Sexual Abuse Facts and Statistics. What is the problem? Why would girls or boys today accept abuse in their relationships? Who is to blame? Parents? Teachers? The media? Ourselves?
Self esteem problem
For the most part, parents are not at fault. My own parents affirmed me regularly but I still became infatuated and married a physically and emotionally abusive man. Many abused girls come from good homes; in a nuclear family with an attentive father. Teachers are certainly not to blame, since they would usually be the first to council a girl that she doesn’t have to take “less-than” treatment to be loved. Though the media gives us an airbrushed representation of perfection that few of us could ever attain, I don’t think they are entirely at fault either. I think the fault lies in ourselves. Perhaps we girls think if we give our all to him/her, we will get all back. It doesn’t always work that way. I know that I was willing to show my full devotion right away and he was more than willing to take it. The problem was I demanded nothing in return, not even respect or kindness.
No one to save you.
When you think you couldn’t do any better, you are more likely to stay in an unhealthy relationship. I was a sheltered girl with a wonderfully affirming set of Christian parents, but no boyfriends. I began to feel I wasn’t worthy or pretty enough to be loved, so when this charming, dynamic man stepped into my universe I was awed and grateful. He was a little possessive at first but I had no frame of reference to go by. How could I gauge whether that was normal or not? He became jealous of my friends, my family, my church, and even my artwork. My Dad thought the relationship was unhealthy but he couldn’t put his finger on why, so he just nagged me. Since my Dad and I had had several fallings out, I took it as an effort to keep me unhappy.
Do you know someone in an abusive relationship?
After three months I was so addicted I could not have escaped even if someone had warned me. That was when he began hitting me. Just a slap at first but that was soon not enough for the abuser. Each time he told me that he was sincerely sorry; that I made him do it and he would never do it again. I truly thought there was something wrong with me and was so happy he still wanted to marry me.
The marriage only made it possible for him to hurt me worst and more often. He began punching me until I was whimpering and bleeding in a heap on the floor. Many times after a beating I couldn’t get out of bed for days. After only a few months of hitting me with just his fists, he graduated to kicking me and whipping me with anything handy, like electrical cords and the buckle-end of his belts. I often couldn’t leave the house because of the black eyes and whelts everywhere. When I was pregnant he didn’t really stop hitting me; he only hid it better by not hitting me around the baby area. My face, legs and back were fair game. Each time he would tell me it was all my fault, that I made him do it and if only I was a better woman, a better wife, a better mother, that he wouldn’t hit me.
I ran away.
After 4 years, 2 months, and 28 days, I took my baby girls and ran away home. My Dad was mad that I hadn’t told him what was going on, but I was ashamed and afraid it was all my fault. For a long time I thought I was helping my husband by staying with him. Later I could see that HE needed help and by staying with him and helping him cover up his problem, he only got worse. Leaving him was the best, most loving thing I could have done for him. He finally sought the help he needed to overcome his violence. He didn’t drink, didn’t smoke, wasn’t on drugs. He was just mean on pure air.
Statistically, you'll pick another abuser?
Later, I was told that statistically, if a person dates and/or marries an abuser, he/she will likely choose another to take that abusers place. He or she will become the perpetual victim and attract abusers. I was determined that this would not happen to me; it does not have to happen if you are careful. Learn to see the warning signs. Learn to see what a healthy relationship looks like.
In a Healthy Relationship he or she:
- Wants what’s best for you
- Thinks of you over self
- Is willing to wait for intimacy until you are both ready
- Would not think of flirting or being unfaithful to you
- Does not make jokes at your expense
- Values your opinion
- Admits and apologizes when he/she is wrong
Refuse to accept it.
Abuse is never deserved. It is never your fault that someone chooses violence. You cannot MAKE a person hurt you; he chooses to do that. And assault is illegal. You never have to accept it even from your husband or wife. Not in the United States, anyway.
There are places you can call for help:
National Domestic Violence/Abuse Hotline, (800) 799-SAFE
The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, www.rainn.org, (800) 656-HOPE
State Coalitions and Information on Domestic Violence have numbers for each state in the US
Also there are Teen Help lines and Crisis Centers in each state and many cities list them in the phone book.
Work on your Self-Worth
You were wonderfully made!
“For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made…” Psalms 139:13-14a NKJV
You are no accident of nature. God created you just as you are and He is pleased with you and how you look. He wants what is best for you. He had a plan for you from the beginning. He thinks good things about you.
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV
He will help if you call on Him. He wants what is best not what is harmful for you.
“Deliver me, O Lord, from the evil man: preserve me from the violent man…” Psalms 140:1 KJV
You are worth better treatment. Do something for yourself this week because you deserve it. Go for a walk. Shop. Dance or sing in the privacy of your own room. Wear yellow or orange just to give yourself a “pick up”. Smile. Commit a random act of kindness. Go to a movie, preferably a comedy; no need to buy more tears. Just sit in the sunlight or hang out with friends.
Maintain your own identity and friends.
Love is wonderful and intense but you should never loose who you are. Say to yourself, “I was a complete person before we met and will be after.” Take your time to get to know a guy. You should never have to vow undying love after one week or even one month. The “getting to know you” part is the most fun, so take time to enjoy it.
With all this in mind, we need to remember who and what we are. Girls and boys, you are not ugly misfits. You are awesome and wanted, special and sought after by God. You are worth better than abuse. Even your new friend thinks you are worthy or he/she would not be with you. Many people aren’t sure what a healthy relationship looks like so they are willing to accept any relationship. A healthy relationship expects respect from both people. Be sure you demand respect; it’s the least you deserve.
You have the solution.
The solution to the abuse problem is you. The only person you can change is yourself. One person at a time, we can change the statistics in this country. Pray and help the person next to you see that he/she is worth better too.
If your friend needs help, be there for her or him, be understanding and a patient, a concerned listener, but also encourage him or her to get help, to demand respect, to love self.