October 21, 2008

Main Article

The Awareness Behind the Awareness

The following is the little talked about/known signs of abuse, and ideas for DV Victims & Survivors

Subtle Abuses
Donald, a prior abuser helped add content to the subtle abuses listed here, and his view as a prior abuser as to what some abusers mean by them.

Lying – Everyone wants to be their best when meeting someone, yet, it is not good that a anyone lies to you and says what you want to hear in order to get you to like them. While this can be innocent, this is something that abusers do. They learn what you like, and fashion themselves after what you like so that they can get into a relationship with you and gain your love. It’s hard to continue doing this, and most abusers stop and take off their mask after they feel that their relationship with their victim is sealed, and that their victim is “primed” to their abuse. The lying and manipulation will continue throughout the relationship, whenever the abuser feels there’s a need for it and he can profit from it.

Arguing – Abusers like to argue, this is usually his way to test the waters early on in the relationship. By seeing how much he can argue, what he can get away with, and how quickly he can get you to come to his side of the argument or forgive him for an argument that simply started from something trivial, it’s his way of gauging the victims reactions to further abuse later. This can also be used by the Abuser to leave the home, stating that he needs a break or a cool down period, when in reality, many times abusers will use this so that he can go and do what he wants. He will do this mostly if he is into drugs, alcohol, or other things that he’s trying to hide from the victim or would create another argument and maybe prevent him from doing it. Abusers can get mad & hurt as well during the argument, but mostly at themselves for getting into the situation, or getting caught or questioned, and takes it out on the victim.

Alcohol & Drug Use – This encompasses financial, emotional, psychological and sometimes physical abuse. Abusers use this as one of their reasons they abuse. They have a problem, therefore its ok. The truth is, alcohol and drug use do NOT cause an abuser to abuse, but can bring out abusive tendencies that they already have. Many times, as was touched on above, abusers will argue and fight so that they can leave and do their drugs or drink their alcohol if you are trying to prevent them from doing so. They know it’s wrong, and that they are hurting those around them, but their selfishness keeps them from caring about that.

Verbal Threats to Self - “I want to kill myself” “I’ll kill myself if you leave me” “I’ll die without you” When the abuser states something such as this, or close too, he’s testing the Victim to see how much she cares, and what he can get away with. Whether he may feel like it at that point is not important, but what he’s trying to achieve with his victim is.

While an abuser is afraid of loosing their victim in their own twisted reasoning, these are said so that the victim will pity them, so that the focus is taken off of the victims pain and the victim feel sorry for them. So that the victim will say things like “I Love You” “I will never leave you” or “It’s ok” so that their web of control tightens even more around the victim, so that they can use this as another means of controlling her. Many abusers will also go as far as packing their belongings (or making a show of doing so) and saying they are leaving the victim, so as to insight fear into her that they are leaving her, the whole time wanting her to beg them to stay and show them how much she loves them. Because no matter how much they abuse their victim, abusers are also insecure and need their victim to want them, love them, and want her to want him to stay. They test this by pushing the victim away, and rewarding her efforts to have them stay by being who she wants them to be for a time through a honey moon phase.

They want to see how much a victim will take, to put fear into the victim that he’s leaving, so the victim won’t stop him from doing what he wants to do the next time. Also, if children hear, they will help the abuser by crying and trying to convince the victim to let him stay.

Getting Children Involved – Abusers aren’t stupid. They know that any Mother will do anything to keep their kids happy, and protect them from being involved or hearing the abuse. The abusers bank on this fact, and use it whenever they can. Abusers will raise their voices for the children to hear what they have to say, wanting you to quite him down by agreeing with whatever he has to say and doing anything they say so that the kids don’t hear and get involved.

They will say things to the children like “I’m leaving now, you wont have a Daddy anymore” “Have a good life” “Your Mother doesn’t love me anymore” to get the children involved so that they get upset and beg their Mom to let him stay while telling him they love him and crying, giving him what he wanted to begin with.
Abusers will use the children and manipulate the situation with children in any way they can. While being abusive, they don’t care about how the kids feel, if the kids are afraid by their actions, or what the long term affects are on the children because of the abuse. All they care about at that time is getting what they want through whatever means they need too.

Mind Control – Abusers use mind control to put fear into their victim, telling them that something didn’t happen when it did, or that something they said was never said. To many of us, this couldn’t happen to us, because we are in a set of mind that we know what we hear and what is going on around us. With a victim that is broken down, self esteem is shattered, this can truly be a large form of control for the abuser. Victims have been known to come to believe they don’t know how to work the washing machine and dryer correctly without their abuser being there to help them, even though they have done it many years without him. Mind control starts very subtle, but in the end, can break down the fabric of a victim to reduce her into feeling that she can’t do anything without the abusers help.

Build Up – Those of us that have been abused all know when our abuser was building up towards a blow up. We all know the signs: moody, walking heavily, slamming things down, closing doors loudly, talking rudely or snapping at you or the children, or being unusually quiet. Many Survivors still trigger when they hear someone slamming something down or closing a door loudly. This is the abusers way of letting you know that you had better do what they want you to do or that they’ll go off. Many abusers use any reason to go off. This leaves the victim living in fear, not knowing when the abuser may go off next, or for what reason. This also leaves the victim wondering what they could do to make the abuser not go off. The sad thing is, is that no matter what the victim does, the abuser would still finally snap. This is not the fault of not having the dinner done on time, or not cooking it right, or not having the house cleaned enough, or not having sex with them that night. The victim is not to blame for the build ups or the final blow up, because it would happen no matter what. Too many victims feel that they are at fault, when what they don’t understand is that this is a normal cycle for an abuser. Too often you can keep a journal and know when the next blow up will occur.

Verbal Put Downs - “You’re ugly” “You can’t do anything right” “You’re too fat” “You need to loose weight” “You’re too stupid to do that right” Many Survivors agree that the verbal abuse is worse in many ways then the physical abuse. That the scars and the pain from physical abuse heal, but the verbal and mental abuse last much longer, and have invisible scars. Abusers love to kill the self esteem of their victims, making it easier for them to control their victims. They make the victim feel that they don’t deserve better, and that they feel they can’t find another man that would want them as bad as the abuser does. This starts slowly, with small comments that don’t seem out of place. “That dress just doesn’t look right on you” “You should have cooked it this way”, and escalates as the abuse continues and the abuser feels more confident that the victim will accept what he is saying.

The Making Up – “I’m sorry” “I Love You” This is what a victim wants to hear, but it’s the abusers way to continue their abuse. The abuser will try and make the victim feel guilty, by trying to pacify the victim when they know they’ve gone too far. Rarely ever sorry for their actions, but an escape to get the pressure off of them so that they can continue doing what they want too.

During the making up, the abuser will usually state that he wouldn’t have yelled/hit/abused if the victim hadn’t done something wrong. At this point, victims are usually so tired and scared from the fight, they just want it to end, and will agree to just about anything to get it to end. The abuser knows this, and banks on this. The abuser will turn on their charms, and get the victim to forget the abuse as fast as possible so that they don’t have to deal with it.

Suggestions for Victims
If you have call forwarding on your phone, insure that that is disconnected when an abuser leaves the home and relationship so that he cannot forward your calls to his residence to find out who you may be talking too.
Keep a journal of abuse at work, or ask a friend to keep a journal of the abuse for you. One of the main reasons victims do not keep a journal is because if the abuser finds it, the victim pays for it. Keeping a journal at work, or somewhere you visit weekly (even a friends or family member’s house) is something that should be done. If that wouldn’t work for you, ask a friend that you talk too that knows what is going on to keep a journal for you. A journal can later be given for submission in the courts in a Domestic Violence case. This will help keep all the abuse straight, show a pattern of abuse, and insure that nothing is forgotten. A time line is important for the courts to see.

If you are a Victim, tell your friends and family what is going on. Do NOT stay Silent!!!! It’s the silence that will kill you! Your friends and family need to know what is going on, so that when you are in need of help, they can know how to help and when you need it. As Victims, we wear our masks and show the world that we are happy in our relationships and nothing is going wrong. These masks protect us, and make it so that we can continue through the abuse. These masks can still stay on, but take them off whenever it is safe to do so and let those around you know what is going on so that you aren’t alone in the abuse. So that you have support, and so that you will have those that you can turn to when you are ready to leave the abuse behind. Abusers will isolate you so that you have less support, so that you wont know what they are doing is wrong and wont have support in getting out of your situation.

Survivor Issues
Healing from Domestic Violence does take time, it doesn’t happen over night. Unfortunately, against society’s misconception, the abuse doesn’t always stop as soon as the door is closed and the relationship is left. It is very important to get support, and to heal from the past and sometimes current abuse. Here is some issues that we feel need to be shared:

Take Care Of Yourself – Even though it’s hard for many Survivors to understand, we need to take care of ourselves in body and in mind. We can’t heal, be affective in our jobs or taking care of anyone else unless we ourselves have taken the time on ourselves to do so. Many of us feel that we aren’t worth it, or that any time or money needs to be used on the practical things, but we cheat ourselves out when doing this. We NEED to be able to let ourselves know that we are worth that finger nail polish, or a long hot bath at the end of the day with bubbles, a good book, and candle light. In taking care of ourselves, we are then more able to take care of the other things in our lives that need attention.

Get Support – Even years after the abuse we are still healing. Search out for support groups for DV Survivors. Find those that you can talk to that will understand ongoing issues when they happen to arise. Someone you can call if you happen to trigger and need someone to talk too. Don’t kid yourself, healing does take time and can take a life time to achieve, but it also can get better and better as time goes on.

Take time to find yourself before getting into another relationship – Too often we hear Survivors ask if they have a sign on them across their forehead that let’s abusers know that they are potential “Victims”. In many ways, we do!

When we don’t take time after an abusive situation to heal, to find ourselves, to find out what our likes are, to find out what we want in a relationship, and to learn boundaries that we don’t want crossed, we ourselves set ourselves up into getting into another DV situation. While free from the abuse, take time to do all of this, and learn what abuse is. Learn the red flags and the subtle abuses, and learn that you don’t need a man to love you, that you need to learn to love yourself first.

Instead of jumping for the first man that pays attention to you that gives you what you feel you want/need, take time to learn who that person is and what he’s like. Spend more time with him if you feel a connection, but also keep your eyes out for any of the early signs of abuse. If you see any, don’t hesitate to bail out of a relationship! There’s more fish in the sea!

Heal – You have to heal from your past abuse and get on your feet so that you can be a Mom to your children, whether you get visitation or not. When you are healthy, when you are healing, self esteem and confidence goes up, and abuse is less likely to be able to continue to harm you from the abuser.

Make sure you have support – Many times, friends and family will not understand what you are going through. Many times even abuse organizations don’t fully understand, but it is a great place to get local support and be around others that have been abused and may have lost their children to abusers as well. Loved ones do get tired and frustrated about hearing about your situation; most don’t know what to say or how to help. Turn to those that do! Find those that do understand, and will be there to support you with your NCM issues. There are some safe groups out there, ours included. Find safe support, and don’t close yourself away during your struggles.

Document EVERYTHING – Documentation is very important, more so for an NCM that has to constantly deal with an abusive X. Documentation can be used in court, journals and timelines are very important tools that many NCM’s don’t know about.

Teen Issues
Dating Abuse Statistics
· In 2007, the age group with the highest number of domestic and dating violence victims in Texas was 20 - 24 years old. (Texas Dept. of Public Safety - Crime in Texas 2007)
· 1 in 3 teens report knowing a friend or peer who has been physically hurt by a dating partner. (Liz Claiborne Inc. study on teen dating abuse conducted by Teenage Research Unlimited, Feb. 2005.)
· 1 in 4 teens in a relationship report enduring repeated verbal abuse. (Liz Claiborne Inc. study on teen dating abuse conducted by Teenage Research Unlimited, Feb. 2005.)
· 1 in 4 teen girls who have been in relationships reveal that they have been pressured to engage in sexual activities. (Liz Claiborne Inc. study on teen dating abuse conducted by Teenage Research Unlimited, Feb. 2005.)
· 62 percent of tweens (age 11-14) who have been in a relationship say they know friends who have been verbally abused (called stupid, worthless, ugly, etc) by a boyfriend/girlfriend. (Liz Claiborne Inc. study on teen dating abuse conducted by Teenage Research Unlimited, Feb. 2005.)
· Only half of all tweens (age 11-14) claim to know the warning signs of a bad/hurtful relationship. (Liz Claiborne Inc. study on teen dating abuse conducted by Teenage Research Unlimited, Feb. 2005.)

What Parents, Friends, & Co-Workers need to know about Domestic Violence
Abusers will do everything they can to isolate their Victims. There’s a lot that you can do to help this from happening:

Support your loved one - As hard as it is to listen, as hard as it is to not commit some Domestic Violence of your own against the abuser, your loved one needs you now more then ever. So many times Victims do know that what their abuser is doing is wrong, but will protect their abuser and take up for them. It’s very confusing to Victims, much less family and friends. While letting your loved one know gently that you don’t agree with what is going on, don’t let the abuser know that you are totally against what he’s doing. This doesn’t mean that you have to give the abuser a hug and kiss (shiver) every time he comes over, but to make him feel unwelcomed/unwanted will give him ammunition to use with your loved one as to why she needs to stay away from you.

Keep the lines of communication open with your loved one – This is very crucial. Your loved one needs this outlet more then anything while going through the abuse. Sometimes it’s best to just listen, and tell her things like “You deserve better”, and “I’m here for you” as much as possible. Your loved one needs to know that you still love her/care for her as much as possible, and that you’ll be there to listen whenever she needs to talk. Get her to talk to you as much as possible, even if this means talking to the abuser and playing nice with him, making him think that you see nothing wrong with what is going on, or that you don’t know/see that something is wrong.

Listen and Believe - Too often loved ones don’t want to believe what is going on. Too often loved ones tell the Victim “Oh, he didn’t mean it like that” “He didn’t really do that, did he?” “It couldn’t have really been that bad!” This makes the victim less inclined to talk about what abuse she is suffering. Often times, the victim will tell a loved one something small that is going on, testing what the reaction is, holding back the full extent of the abuse until she is sure that she isn’t going to be put down or blocked out when she tells. Victims need to be believed! Many times this doesn’t happen, and the result is more isolation, and her feeling that she is alone in her abuse.

Document – Documentation can make or break a court case against an abuser, can make whether the abuser gets charged or goes free. Too many times a Victim does not document for many reasons, and may not be in the state of mind to do so. Every time you talk to your loved one and she mentions abusive situations, write it down in a notebook expressly for that. Write down the date, time, if she contacted you by phone or person, what she says, how she sounds, and even what you say. If possible, take pictures of your loved ones bruises. Sometimes Victims won’t feel comfortable with this, so use other reasons to take pictures such as a group picture, or a pretty day. Many times Victims try to hide bruises; don’t point them out directly if she isn’t ready for you to do so, this could make it so that she doesn’t feel comfortable with you seeing her. When going through a DV case, the judge wants to see a pattern, which is where your documentation can come into play.

Be willing to understand her abuse - Too often Victims will see only portions of the abuse, or their feelings about the abuse will come and go. After an abusive episode, they may be very upset, and mad at the abuser, and be ready to say anything and everything bad about the abuser. After the honey moon phase starts, and the abuser sways them back, they will go back to loving the abuser, forgetting what had happened, and sticking up for their abuser again. This is very confusing not only for the Victims, but for family and friends as well. This is also why many Victims go back on average 7 times before leaving an abuser for good.

The fact is, the Victim loves the abuser, many times thinking that only if they could do things better, if they would only love their abuser more, then things would be perfect. They want the man they fell in love with, and the abuser shows that man again during the honey moon phases, showing the victim and giving the victim exactly what she wants.

Too many times family and friends get fed up with these actions, and finally will have nothing to do with the Victim because she does keep going back, or sticking up for the abuser.

During these times, support the victim, and gently steer her towards talking to a DV Advocate, shelter, calling the DV Hotline, getting educated about what abuse is about. Make sure she knows what to do when she is ready to leave, and how to do it safely. In time, with support and understanding, she will leave for good, and she’s going to need a lot of support when she does.

This isn’t saying bend over backwards every time she leaves and being disappointed when she goes back. There are a lot of things that Victims have to do for themselves, but hopefully with friends and family understanding that this is yet another cycle of abuse, that they will be there to support her through all of it.
Abusers don’t want their Victims to have ties of any kind that will make it easier for their Victim to leave. They will always hate and condemn those that speak bad about them, and point out the abusive ways he’s showing. This is an abusers weakness; they don’t like anyone to know that they are abusive, that they aren’t the perfect Father/Husband/Boyfriend they try to portray to the world. Be ready for this, and through it all, make sure that your loved one knows that you know what is going on, and that you will be there to help in any way that you can, even if that just means someone to listen. When a Victim is fully isolated without friends and family, that is the time they are in the most danger, because then the abuser feels that they can do anything and get away with it.

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