By: Angela Mayah Solstice
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. I pray for the day we live in a world where an awareness month is not needed. Yet for now I would be grateful if people were able to just consider the topic without turning away from it due to shame, fear, or harsh judgment.Ending my abusive marriage served as the catalyst that helped me to change my life. I would like to share with you my story in hopes that it may inspire you to help yourself or a loved one. Below is an excerpt from my forthcoming book "The Courage To Change":
When my parent arrived, I drove home the point that we were not dealing with the man they thought they knew. I had recently started working with an excellent therapist who specialized in treating women in abusive relationships; I was loaded with new information and shared everything I had learned. They helped me set up a joint banking account with them. In the past, my husband cut me off financially whenever I challenged him. It was the price I paid for standing up for myself. My own bank account gave me my power back. I was starting to think solely about myself for once and was gaining some control over my life. We ended my parent’s stay by doing an intervention of sorts. My husband, true to form, gave an emotional performance and promised to change. He said that he loved me and the children, and that he was sorry. Yet my parents had barely left for the airport when I saw the glare in his eyes change. A few nights later he claimed to be leaving for his support meeting joining such a group was part of the agreement he had made with me and my parents. But he didn’t return home until early the next morning. I was too scared to confront him but smart enough not to wait for the next blow-up and so I went to the courthouse to obtain an order of protection the next morning. Handicapped and emotionally wrecked, I had just enough strength to make it through the process.
I was granted the order the same day. The next morning, the Sheriff’s department arrived shortly after my oldest two children had left school. As my two youngest were sleeping, several sheriff deputies came crashing through our front door and apprehended my husband. They gave him time to retrieve his belongings. As he bullied through the house I knew he was stalling because he wanted to see my face, but the cops made sure I was out of sight and guarded. I thought my heart was going to jump out of my chest, but soon enough he was gone. I sat there in almost disbelief. That night, my children and me huddled in bed together, too scared to sleep, even with a police car stationed out front. Police protection may have been standard in these kind of cases, but I still couldn’t help but wonder-how had it come to this? This was my rock bottom. My abusive marriage no longer a secret, I was vulnerable yet finally ready to surrender. I was in the eye of the storm but I could see land. And this is where I truly began to do some of my realest self-inventory work, in order to change my life.
Unfortunately my story is all too common. Millions of women, young and old, are abused daily. As an empowered woman, it is your responsibility to get educated on the signs of abuse as well as resources available to women in your area so you can pass along information when needed. If you know of someone in an abusive relationship do not put them down in any way! Give them love, encouragement, and assistance if you can. You have an obligation to the women in your care, family, and community to speak out. If you are in an abusive relationship, know that there are resources and support available to you if you need it. I was fortunate to have family who could help me financially when I stood up to my Goliath, which is a hard cold fact why many women do not leave for fear of abandonment. Even so, there are some well run domestic violence organizations that can help you with counseling; legal representation, and even housing—free of cost and without involving the police. I pray for miracles and that an abundance of Angels come into your life right now…You can heal your life.
Journal: Write in your journal the following contract and sign at the bottom:
I _____(name)______commit to giving my love, encouragement, and available resources to whoever is placed in my path, and are being victimized due to domestic violence. I declare this moment that I am against domestic violence. I am a woman of my word and will stand by my declaration. I am committed to do doing my part, even if it is a simple prayer, to help make this world abuse-free for the young women of the future.
Additional Journaling: Abuse affected my life when…
Prayer: (Higher Power of your understanding) I pray for abused women (me) today. Please send an Earth Angel in their (my) path to help them (me) onto the road of recovery. Protect them (me), heal them (me), and guide them (me).
Affirmation: “I WILL NO LONGER BE A VICTIM IN MY LIFE”
Reading Recommendations & Resources:
The Betrayal Bond: Breaking Free of Exploitive Relationships By: Patrick Carnes
Peace from Broken Pieces By: Iyanla Vanzant
The Verbally Abusive Relationship By: Patricia Evans ***
Why Does He Do That? By: Lundy Bancroft
Excerpt from "Why Does He Do That?" By Lundy Bancroft:
If you would like to make a significant difference in the life of an abused woman you care about, keep the following principles fresh in your mind: your goal is to be complete opposite of what the abuser is.
The abuser: Pressures her severely
SO YOU SHOULD: Be patient. It takes time for an abused woman to sort out her confusion and figure out how to handle her situation. It is not helpful for her to try to follow your timetable for when she should stand up to her partner, leave him, call the police, or whatever step you want her to take.
The abuser: Talks down to her
SO YOU SHOULD: Address her as an equal. Avoid all traces of condescension or superior knowledge in your voice. If you speak to an abused woman as if you are smarter or wiser than she is, or as if she is going through something that could never happen to you, then you inadvertently confirm exactly what the abuser has been telling her, which is that she is beneath him. Remember, your actions speak louder than your words.
The abuser: Thinks he knows what is good for her better than she does
SO YOU SHOULD: Treat her as the expert on her own life. Don't assume that you know what she needs to do. Ask her what she thinks might work and, without pressuring her, offer suggestions, respecting her explanations for why certain courses of action would not be helpful.
The abuser: Dominates conversations
SO YOU SHOULD: Listen more and talk less. Talking too much inadvertently communicates to her that your thoughts are more important than hers, which is exactly how the abuser treats her. If you want her to value her own feelings and opinions, then you have to show her that you value them.
The abuser: Believes he has the right to control her life
SO YOU SHOULD: Respect her right to self-determination. She is entitled to make decisions that are not exactly what you would choose, including the decision to stay with her abusive partner or return to him after a separation. Stay by her even when she makes choices that you don't like.
The abuser: Assumes he understands her children and their needs better than she does
SO YOU SHOULD: Assume that she is a competent, caring mother. Remember that there is no simple way to determine what is best for the children of an abused woman. Even if she leaves the abuse, the children's problems are not necessarily over, and sometimes abusers actually create worse difficulties for the children post-separation than before. You cannot help her to find the best path for her children unless you have a realistic grasp of the complicated set of choices that face her.
The abuser: Thinks for her
SO YOU SHOULD: Think with her. Don't assume the role of teacher or rescuer. Instead, join forces with her as a respectful and equal team member.
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