By D. Bryant Simmons
Excuses for domestic violence vary but they all have one thing in common—allowing the abuse to continue. Both victims and perpetrators make excuses, albeit for different reasons. Perpetrators want to maintain control over their victims and protect their image so often times they will shift the blame.
A battered women will repeat the excuses told to her and convince herself that she believes them out of fear or desperation. She may be afraid of change—the prospect of building a new life apart from him might be more uncomfortable than the idea of staying. She might also be afraid of what he would do to her if she became confrontational. So, his excuses become her excuses.
We’ve all heard these excuses before, variations of he didn’t mean to do it, he just got upset or he’s sorry, it won’t happen again. Implying that now they can put this little hiccup in the past and go back to being the perfect couple.
If you know someone who has been abused once, twice, or every day for twenty years prepare yourself to have an uncomfortable conversation with her. Tell her in private that no matter what she did or didn’t do, she doesn’t deserve to be treated in that way. She deserves to feel happy and safe in her home and every day of her life. Tell her that real love doesn’t leave scars and that’s what you wish for her.
Best case scenario is she agrees with you but is unsure about how to leave.
If she denies that it’s happening, then she’s not ready to leave but take heart in knowing the time will come when she is ready. So, remind her how much you care about her and confirm that you will always be there for her, no matter what.
If she makes excuses for the abuser, impress upon her how important her safety is, that she shouldn’t trade it for anything. Suggest that she speak with a counselor that specializes in domestic abuse. If she seems open to this have the number for the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-SAFE) with you and give it to her. If she’s concerned about legal matters or law enforcement, she needs to speak with an attorney that has experience in domestic abuse cases. There are many websites to help battered women located attorneys in their price range. For example, http://www.womenslaw.org/ has resources for every state in the US.
If you are involved with someone that is verbally, physically, sexually, or emotionally abusive and you’ve had enough, here are six steps to save yourself from an abusive relationship:
- Find someone to confide in. Someone who does not have direct contact with your significant other or who is loyal only to you. Share with this person what you’re going through and decide on a code phrase that means you want them to call the police for you. Do not involve anyone other than your confidant in your plans to leave. Don’t tell anyone (including your kids) any more than they need to know at the time they need to know it.
- Know his schedule as well as your own. Know how long it takes him to get from work to home and the same for you. If he checks up on you throughout the day be prepared for this.
- Gather your things. Any important documents like birth certificates, deeds, social security cards, bank records, wills etc. for yourself and your children. Get as much cash as you can without alerting your significant other and pack a bag with these items, an extra set of keys, any medications, and some clothes in a safe place that he can’t get to. If you have evidence of the abuse—photos, hospital records, journal entries pack that too.
- Speak to a lawyer that specializes in domestic violence in your state, especially if there are children involved. She can help you get a restraining order, prepare custody arrangements, and any other legal matters that may arise.
- Find a shelter or a place to relocate to if you are financially able. The internet is a wonderful resource. Remember to clear your browser history if you use the home computer. Then leave when he least expects it.
- Keep your new address secret. Have your new phone number blocked. Change your cell phone number. Never share any information on social media about where you’ve moved to or what’s in your area. Stay safe.
Find a girl, any girl, she doesn’t have to be related to you. Let her know that she matters, that her voice matters. Listen to her. Empathize with her. Encourage her to love herself just as she is and to express herself in whatever means are most comfortable for her. Empower her to expect the same kind of support from everyone who claims to love her. Teach her to set boundaries and resolve conflicts. And celebrate her when she does the right thing.
Find a boy, any boy, he doesn’t have to be related to you. Let him know it’s okay to feel every emotion on the spectrum and show him how to express them in a healthy way. Encourage him to help others even when it doesn’t benefit him and to speak out when he sees injustice. Help him to understand that his pride is no more important than anyone else’s. And celebrate him when he doss the right thing.
Now think bigger. Start an educational and mentoring program at a high school or elementary school. Create a documentary or short $lm about abuse. Start a petition to strengthen the domestic abuse laws in your state. Donate time, food, clothing, or money to local shelters. Bring someone else on this journey with you—child or adult. Tell the uncomfortable truth and most importantly never give up.
About the Author:
D. Bryant Simmons is the author of the new book, How to Knock a Bravebird From her Perch. She was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. She graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a Bachelor Degree in Sociology and later earned a Master Degree in Elementary Education. Her passion for social justice, female empowerment, and children’s rights is evident in her writing. For more information, please visit: http://www.dbryantsimmons.com.