For many people in abusive relationships, this pandemic will be deadly. They will lose their lives at the hands of their abusive partners.
This is a time where victims of domestic violence are especially at risk, they are isolated with their partners in the most dangerous place for them, their homes.
Many of you may not know that I began my career in a Domestic Violence Outreach program and was on a Board of Directors for a Transition house for women and children experiencing violence for 5 years. Throughout these experiences, I learned a lot about unhealthy relationships and the power and control that accompanies, I’ve seen how this plays out in sneaky ways that many don't even realize is abuse, in ways that make you feel like you are crazy, or are responsible for the abuse...abusers like to create confusion within you. I’ve learned that too many people feel forced into forgiving and smoothing the waters with their partner and there isn’t enough emphasis on the unhealthy behaviors, which then go unchallenged....
I’ve learned that women stay in these relationships for several reasons including cultural pressure to go with the flow, be a nice girl, to not disappoint others.
Because they have low self-worth, low self-esteem, fear there is no one better, fear being alone, fear judgement, financial restraints and have hope that behavior will change...
I’ve learned that women stay because they believe their partner is a good parent.
A good parent doesn’t abuse/belittle/manipulate/control their child's mother, ever. Children are a way for your abuser to continue to control you.
I have a few things to say to everyone who finds themselves in relationships they know are unhealthy but try to convince themselves staying is their best option:
Make your decision to stay or leave based on behavior shown right now. It’s the unhealthy partner's responsibility to control their behavior and it’s yours to protect yourself and your children. They are very unlikely to change. This is a pattern that repeats itself.
You cannot change your partner, they are not unhealthy due to stress, anger, emotional problems or addiction. These things don’t justify abuse. They are abusive because this is how they have learned to treat their partners, and many will tolerate it. This is how they maintain power and control which is reinforced in society....they also have a distorted view on right and wrong, abusers believe controlling and abusing their partner is justified.
Know your worth, know that REGARDLESS of your flaws, past decisions or experiences or the pressure put on yourself from society to be in a relationship, you deserve to be treated with equality, respect and feel like you have an equal voice. Abuse is a solvable problem.
Abusers distort your mind and keep you focused on them, the key is to shift your thinking to yourself and your children. You are better off ALONE than with someone who doesn’t treat you well.
Please know that your local shelters are still operating and you can reach out for questions, support or guidance towards resources. To everyone else, please check in on those you know or even suspect are not in a healthy relationship right now. You could save a life. We know violence often escalates in isolation. The red flags will likely be missed.
We also have therapists specializing in unhealthy relationships, child custody challenges within these relationships and can provide support and no pressure guidance. 651-1239. ~ Laura