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  • Shana's Avatar
    03-21-2018, 04:40 PM
    There were several people who tried to help me when I was dealing with abuse and I also tried to help other people who were dealing with abuse. When people adviced me to leave, it wasn't like I immediately decided to leave and everything was solved. That would only make sense if I couldn't think for myself and needed someone else to tell me what to do. I didn't knew the behavior I was dealing with was abusive, I just knew it had a very negative effect on me and I tried to think of things that would improve the situation. What I didn't knew back then is that there was nothing I could do to make it better, just less bad. There were also people who focused on what I did possible wrong. It took me a long time to realise how wrong this actually was. Not just because I learned that abuse is never an appropriate response and with the understandings I had at the moment I actually handled things quite well, but also because people who deal with abuse are already in some kind of thought battle where they don't know what to think about the behavior they're dealing with. Everything that pointed in the direction that I was at fault somehow for the abuse made it so much worse and slowed down any progress. What did had a good effect is opinions from people about the behavior I was dealing with, without judging me or the person who acted abusive. Not because I didn't have opinions myself, but because it made me look at things in a different way. People who act abusive rarely blame themselves for anything, which can have a result that the people who deal with abuse start thinking they are fully or partly at fault. Several people who acted abusive towards me tried to convince me it was a conflict and that I also had a part in it. While I didn't see it as abusive at the moment, I also didn't see it as a conflict, but rather people acting in a wrong way. When they kept on insisting I was fully or partly at fault for it, it became my conclusion versus theirs and this created alot of "maybe..." thoughts. I tried to make sense of why they were so convinced they were acting right and ended up partly taking over their perspective, which was one of the main reasons why I kept tolerating so much abuse. It took me years to realise how abusive the behavior actually was. When I tried to help other people who dealt with abusive behavior, I thought I could just tell them because I thought the reason it took so long for me was because it wasn't clear to me before. What I started to understand later is that it will always take a long time to relearn all the things that were learned during the abuse. What you can do is be supportive as a person who is willing to think with the other person if the person asks for it and other than that you can just be a friend for the person. This way it can also help the person to notice the difference in how the person is being treated by other people. It can be very hard to understand for people who never dealt with abuse, but it's important to not invalidate it, calling someone a dramaqueen or saying that this person always plays the victim is not a good thing to do, especially not if the person is dealing with abusive behavior. Even if you think the person acts a bit like that, the effect it can have is that the person might excuse any type of abuse away by thinking they are the problem which will only leave the person open for further abuse. While no one gets harmed by accepting an other person's perspective, it can do alot of damage to act as if they have no right to have their own and it might take years to recover from it.
    11 replies | 190 view(s)
  • Devin's Avatar
    03-20-2018, 11:23 PM
    This is a really fruitful discussion for me. Last year, I learned the hard way that you need to have boundaries when dealing with abuse, even indirectly. I made the mistake of trying to help an acquaintance of mine who was being abused by her husband by offering to let her stay with me when she felt unsafe. However, it didn't help her resolve the ambivalence about staying or leaving him, and actually ended up being potentially dangerous to me because she allowed him to enter our home when I'd explicitly asked her not to do so. I also discovered that the conflict between them was fueled by mutual abuse. Ultimately my honest but naieve desire to "help" placed me in a very vulnerable position that was further compromised by lies, emotional abuse and manipulation. When my acquaintance finally decided to return to her husband, I ended up sharing info about local DMV centers and services and detached with love. Talk about learning the hard way! The advice to offer assistance but to keep your distance and your wits about you is really valuable. I did neither and it could have gone way wrong because of my ignorance. I definitely agree with what you all say - that it needs to be the woman's own decision, and that you can't change the problem with a magic wand. However, I must say that we're really lucky that DV services now exists. It's not perfect, but when I think about my own mother, she really had very few alternatives to being trapped in an unhappy marriage. It's possible to leave, but the harsh reality is that no one would help her, that her generation considered divorce a personal failure for a woman, and having to support 3 kids alone would probably have meant a return to the poverty she'd grown up with. Even though my mother was a very confident, capable, and hard-working working class woman and virtually a single parent to boot despite my father's vacuous presence, she didn't feel she could manage to carry the full responsibility alone. I can't imagine being in her situation, but I'm sure she felt trapped with no way out. Sometimes I think the emotional entrapment or entanglement makes DV harder to recognize because its so insidious and leaves no obvious bruises or injuries. Glad we have more alternatives now!
    11 replies | 190 view(s)
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