I know I get on my soapbox often about domestic abuse here on my blog. Everytime I try to step away from that subject a little though, reminding myself that that is not my life now I see see in the news or around me that it’s still so many, way too many women’s lives. Me staying silent so as not to bore people is no use at all.
I wanted to really talk about the women who have managed to leave and what we can all do to make it easier on them to readjust to life without their perpetrator.
As I always say I can’t , and would never attempt to , speak for all women who’ve experienced abuse. I can only talk about my experiences.
Leaving an abusive relationship is huge , massive. I wish I was a bit more skilled at writing so I could explain it better and do it justice. You know on action movies where during car chases someone will drive their car into a huge river or the sea such is their need to get away from the person doing the chasing. A last desperate , risky act? It’s kind of like that. Imagine a really , really long pier leading out to shark infested waters. At the beginning of the relationship you are stood at the very end of the pier as close as possible to the perpetrator , you probably look at him and think how glad you are to have him to keep you safe from all those sharks at the other end. As time goes by you start to take little steps closer to the water to try to put some distance between you and he. You cant though because he’s right there behind you, shadowing your every step. By the time you reach the waters edge with him breathing down your neck the sharks feel like the better option and you’ll dive in , it’s worth a shot. As I say I wish I could express it better but that’s as well as I can do. I suppose what I’m trying to express is that leaving is risky and it’s dangerous and traumatic but by the end you just shut your eyes , hope for the best and just jump. Being eaten alive by sharks is still preferable to living with the alternative ( no more shark talk now I promise)
After you’ve left , you kind of stand there wondering what to do next. I was unable to make the smallest of decisions as I’d not been able to make my own choices for so long. Even now when asked to make a decision I stumble and falter because I so want to get it right and I’m not the most trusting in my own judgement.
All I wanted to say really is that if you know someone who has recently left an abusive relationship , and this person may have never been hit I feel I need to add, then nuture them. They need time to heal and will probably need a bit of looking after. They may be unable to decide what biscuit they want with their tea , they might not answer your calls because their phone is constantly on silent (a habit formed in the abusive relationship in an attempt to not draw any attention to themselves).
Most importantly though , and again I’m only talking from my own experience. What they need from you when they’ve trusted you to tell you some of their experiences ( they’ll never tell you it all because they know you love them and they don’t want upset you) What they need is to hear three words. The most important ones you’ll likely ever utter. They need you to look them in the eye ( tricky as likely they struggle with eye contact as their self esteem is in bits ) Just deliver those three little words.
I believe you.
Goes without saying maybe you’ll think, but they’re so important to hear.
They’ll need it repeating to them when their perpetrator has told social services what an awful parent she is and she has to suffer the indignity of her parenting skills being raked through whilst being asked why didn’t she leave ( here’s why I didn’t ), why she didn’t protect her children . was she in fact making up the abuse?
I believe you.
When going through the family court and having to detail incidents she doesn’t want to have to talk about.
I believe you
When reading his responses down on paper about how he never touched her , he’s never hit a woman in his life , he’s not that kind of man.
I believe you.
When his friends and family are told (with tears for effect)how she’s withholding his children from him and he doesn’t know why and she has to deal with them.
I believe you.
She was told when in the relationship no one will believe her if she tells anyone .She’s probably even questioned herself once or twice about if it really is all in her head like he tells her it is everyday.
I believe you means I love you , I’ve got your back , I’m here for you , you’re not alone , I’ll protect you , I’ll take care of you.
They’re a statement of intent. They’re a shock to hear. They’re a mantra. They’re a lullaby. They’re the beginning of a healing spell.
Just three little words.
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