When we get married, we all plan on staying married. After all, our vows specifically say that we are in this thing for better or worse. But what happens when the better doesn’t last that long and the “worse” goes beyond anything we ever expected? What happens when we find ourselves in an abusive relationship, and we truly cannot imagine a way out?
This is a reality for so many women, as well as some men. They are stuck in a situation that’s a far cry from what they imagined for themselves, so many women are in relationships that are verbally, emotionally and physically abusive, and they have no clue how to get out (or if they should).
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, a time to spread knowledge about what domestic violence is and how people can seek help. It’s also a time for us to rally together to support the many people who are survivors of, or currently involved in, a relationship that is abusive.
I have never been in an abusive relationship, but I actually have had a couple of friends and even 2 family members (that I know of) who have been. It doesn’t look any particular way, so it can be hard to determine if someone you love is being abused. Sometimes we have this image of some broken soul who appears to be in a bad situation, but victims often don’t fit that image at all. Often times, the abused party is someone we think of as confident, smart, put together, and even “no nonsense.” Sometimes there is no indication that something in their personal life is terribly wrong.
We live in a world where everyone shares what’s great in their lives. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – they all give people the ability to share the great stuff in their lives on a consistent basis. But the problem is that it also creates this false image of everything being “all good” in your friends’ lives. The reality is, however, none of us really know what happens to the people we love when they are behind closed doors with their spouse. We have no idea what really goes down in their homes.
I hope we all use this month of awareness to really reflect on what might be wrong in our own relationships. Are we being abused? Are we the abuser? Be honest with yourself. I hope we also use it as an opportunity to truly listen to sisters, cousins, and girlfriends to let them know we have their back – no matter what.
If you are in a relationship that is abusive, please know that you deserve better and with the right support you can find a way out. If the person abusing you is your husband or wife, I hope you understand that when you took your vows, God did not intend for you to put your life at risk or live in absolute fear. Married or not, you must find a safe place and put your life (and the lives of your children) first.
If you suspect that someone you love is being abused, just be there for that person – without judgment. They will let you know what is going on when they are ready, especially if you have proven yourself to be a nonjudgmental and compassionate friend. And they will turn to you for help when they are prepared to seek help. If you know someone who has confided in you about their abusive relationship, express your support as well as your concern for their safety. Also, help them develop a “get out” plan, and even consider creating code words so they can call you (or text you) when they are in trouble, without anyone else being able to figure out what the message is about.
If you don’t fall into any of these categories, keep in mind that this is still your problem, too. Whatever you can do to support this issue that affects families everywhere, can make a difference. Whenever anyone is being abused, it taints the fabric of the family unit. I hope you join me this month by finding a way to support this social issue, and help those in need of help.
If you want to learn more about domestic abuse, or you are currently in an abusive relationship, here are a few links that will lead you to more information and help (if you are being abused, please use caution because your browsing history can be tracked even if you attempt to erase it).