Sunday, January 16, 2011

What Do I Do About Abuse in Others? . . . A Resurrected Email

My email for this site has apparently not been forwarding emails the way it should, so I deeply apologize for anyone who has emailed me and been ignored. It was truly not my intent. I have reason to believe it is fixed, now.

Some of you have asked what you can do to help someone who is going through abuse, or trying to get out of it. One email which was sent by Quimby, an amazing woman, apparently just after my forwarding went on the fritz, I have reproduced in part here as a perfect example of what can be said and done for someone escaping an abusive relationship.

I . . . want you to know this:
You are a very brave, courageous, strong woman for removing yourself and your children from that situation.
It will get better.
You can do this.
Any abuse that you suffered at his hands - it is NOT your fault.
A marriage breakdown that came from these circumstances - it is NOT a sin.

I also want to offer my help, in whatever way you need or want it. Do you need [anything?] Is there anything I can do to make this an easier time for you?

. . .

The most dangerous times in an abusive marriage are when you're pregnant and when you're leaving. So, be careful. If you have left your marital home and you have to go back there for any reason, make sure you have someone with you. If he's left it make sure you've changed all of the locks and have really good locks on all of the windows. (It might even be worth investigating bars or safety screens for the windows, depending on his history.) If you've left and he doesn't know where you are, try to keep it that way. Document everything. I know it often seems that restraining orders aren't worth the paper they're written on but at least that way the police have a record (and you've got a record for when it comes time for the custody hearing).

Walk tall - head held high - you will get through this. "Fake it til you feel it" - I am sure your self-esteem and self-worth has taken a battering with everything that's happened, so be good to yourself. Be gentle with yourself. Give yourself lots of compliments, even if you think they are just lies (they aren't really - it's just how you feel right now).

Despite how you might feel now, you are setting a good example for your daughters. You are telling them: You are worth more than this. You do not have to put up with this. You deserve better.

And despite how you might feel now, you are setting a good example for yourself. YOU are worth more than this. YOU do not have to put up with this. YOU deserve better.

And you will find it.

This is excellent advice, every piece of it. I can see how excellent, now that I am at the other end of things. She did not let the fact that we were relative strangers keep her from opening her arms to me. She did not let the fear that she would offend me stop her from offering the support she could. She did nothing that tried to take away my agency, but she made it clear she was here to help in any way I would let her.

She is truly an amazing woman and certainly one of Christ's disciples.


  1. I would like to add that leaving an abusive relationship is important for our sons (maybe you didn't have sons.) I felt that just as staying taught my daughters that abuse is okay - my sons would get the same message.

  2. These are difficult topics. While there is sometimes a real need to walk away to protect oneself form harm, there is also sometimes a real need to work things out. In making this sort of decision, a person needs the inspiration of his or her God and the support of his or her neighbor -- these are hard decisions.

  3. JI—In cases of abuse, I don't think there usually is a way to work things out. "Working things out" is often a code word used by abusers to make their victims comply.

    The only hope for abusive relationships is for the abuser to fix themselves first.

  4. Silver Rain, you're right that "working things out" is sometimes code for continuing an abuser-victim relationship -- but not always -- this is part of the reason these are difficult matters -- another reason is that there is no universally-accepted ironclad definition of abuse or the thresholds where certain actions in response are appropriate. But when it really is abuse, and the threshold has been reached, each person needs to decide for him- or herself whether to walk away or try to work things out -- and hopefully, his or her friends will continue to be friends, knowing that the person had a hard decision to make.

    In seemingly identical situations, one person could decide to walk away and another could decide to stay. May God bless each of them in their decisions.

  5. Wow! Excellent advice. And beautiful thoughts. I COMPLETELY agree with Marianne, its important for children to see its okay to leave, and that abuse is not okay...

    I also believe that once a relationship has crossed into abuse, you have to get out. I suppose with a lot of help, you could choose to go back, but... BOTH people have to change a lot. BOTH people have to decide that abuse will not happen anymore. I played a roll in my abusive marriage - I let it happen. I didn't leave. I didn't stand up for myself. (I honestly didn't think it was abuse... I just knew I didn't like it... And I thought I should learn to like it.)

    Thanks for sharing this!

  6. Thanks, Jen. That is a great way to explain it.

  7. I agree that abuse is not ok, and that if a person (woman or man) finds themselves in an abusive relationship, and it is evident that nothing is going to change, it is time to get out. I know a lot of women who are in this situation who are afraid to leave, that there is no way they can make it on their own. However, I have seen many women (sorry don't know any men who have had to leave an abusive relationship) who have succeeded. In fact, I just read a book titled, "Major Dream: From Immigrant Housemaid to Harvard Ph.D." written by Jin Kyu Robertson Ph.D. that is about a single mother who left an abusive relationship and although she went through many trials, is so much better off now- she is a successful business woman! People shouldn't be afraid to leave - life may end up being so much better.


Unfortunately, I've found it necessary to screen comments. Unless your comment violates the commenting policy, it will show up as soon as I can approve it.

Popular Posts