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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Battered Women, Time To Leave

By Tracee Sioux

Did everyone see Oprah yesterday? About the battered women and what staying in this type of situation does to their children?

I know this column will reach a battered woman, because according to the US Justice Department, 30 percent of women are beaten by a significant other at one time or another.

This is an issue very close to my heart as I was a battered girlfriend for two years, between 14 and 16-years-old, so I actually know why these women stay. I also know how much courage it took to leave.

In college, when a boyfriend started getting abusive I left quickly. But then he stalked me for months and finally the police were going to put him away for two years. I begged them not to. I knew the last thing I needed was for that man to plot my murder for two years. The court required him to leave the state immediately and not allow him to return for two years to avoid prison.

The key, of both yesterday’s Oprah and my personal experience, was said very clearly by the battered woman’s son who witnessed everything.

DO NOT STAY!

Many women stay because of their children. I can understand the thinking behind this. You don’t want your children to come from a broken home. You don’t want to put them through a divorce. You don’t want the stigma.

You are so confused that you think he will change. That if you do enough things right, he will stop his abusive behavior. You believe him when he says “You make me hit you, if you had cleaned the house like you were supposed to then I wouldn’t have to hit you.”

You believe him because you want to believe you can somehow make him stop by being exactly what he wants you to be. You believe him because this is logic you use on your kids and you are telling the truth, “If you cleaned your room yesterday you wouldn’t be grounded.” You want him to be telling the truth, but he’s not.

You believe, in your heart, that you deserve abuse because you are a terrible person. You are a whore, a slut, a horrible mother, a bad cook, a terrible housekeeper, stupid, idiotic, moronic. Whatever names he chooses to call you. The worst my ex-boyfriend would call me was “used-meat.” After all, who wants a girl who’s not a virgin anymore? You have been listening to his berating of your self for so long that you believe every word of it is true. That’s why you stay. You stay because you think no one else would want you and you’re not strong enough to stand on your own. This is emotional terrorism and every word he says is untrue.

To get out you need to repeat to yourself all the good and wonderful and true qualities about you over and over and over until you believe them enough to go. You need to quietly work your self-worth up through praise of self until you no longer believe his lies about you.

Your daughter, when she hears his opinion of you over and over and sees him hit you, comes to believe these things, not only about you, but about her own self. If you are a terrible slut, then she is a terrible slut. If you deserve to be hit, then she does as well. It doesn’t matter if she is three or 14, the result will be that she will find someone who hits her or emotionally terrorizes her and she will call it love.

You can not raise an empowered girl if you are staying in an abusive relationship. It is an unequivocal impossibility.

Battered women, I know it’s hard to feel that you are worth leaving him for. But, it’s not as hard to feel that your children are worth leaving for. And they are.

The last bit of advice is not to leave without a plan. I left without a plan twice. Frankly, it was scary. Both times the man stalked me, attacked me in public, stole my mail, called my job so many times I got fired, harassed my friends, broke into my house, etc.

This is the link to Oprah’s resources about how to make an escape plan. Here, also, is a link to the National Domestic Violence Hotline website.

You are strong enough to make it on your own.
You are good enough to find someone else.
You are smart enough to find your way out of this.
You are a wonderful person who deserves to be free of abuse.

8 comments:

Janet said...

I'm glad you were watching Oprah, and thanks for sharing this important message. I hope many people read your blog today.

Janet

Rebecca said...

I agree. I deleted that Oprah b/c I thought it would be too depressing. But I'm certainly glad you did and posted this message!

Pamm said...

I'm so glad you left the situation and never looked back, took care of yourself. I know that people get so foggy in relationships. It's easy to let things go, women get confused, the days turn into weeks and months.

My best friend was terribly abused but had the strength to leave the father of her four kids and take them to safety. But it took her awhile to leave as she would literally forget what had happened, not understanding how her arm got broken, her eye bruised.

These women live in fear the likes of what most of us cannot fathom.

Thanks for reaching out to them. Blessings!

So Sioux Me said...

Thanks Janet, I actually said a prayer that all who need to read it will. Tracee

So Sioux Me said...

Rebecca,

It was both depressing and empowering. Empowering because as Oprah said, our Grandmothers had no resources if they were abused and now there is a ton of help for women. It wasn't even against the law in my grandmother's day. Nor, could a woman really support her self and kids if she left.

Thank God there is help out there for women now. And even more Thank God women can walk away and get jobs to take care of themselves.

Tracee

So Sioux Me said...

Pamm,

Denial is insideous and difficult to swim your way out of.

It's a bizarro trick our brains play on us to protect us from our own reality. Having experienced a lot of denial myself, I think it's our way of storing up energy until we have enough of it to take action.

Our brain knows that we aren't strong enough to take appropriate action so it blesses us and curses us with "forgetfullness" or denial of reality. If you are not strong enough to leave then it would be cruel to make us face our reality dead on every day. So, our brains create the fiction of a normal life until we are ready.

Tracee

kailani said...

I was once in an abusive relationship when I was single. Unfortunately, I stayed with him for 2 years. He had me convinced that I didn't deserve any better. I finally decided to get some self-worth and leave. He ended up taking my cat and putting him to sleep. Psycho!

Anyway, thank you for sharing this with the Carnival of Family Life. Glad you could join us this week!

So Sioux Me said...

Kailani,

I'm so glad you left. I hope your significan other "picker" has improved. I know mine has. It's insane to think that when someone you love tells you over and over that you are no good, it's so easy to believe them and so difficult to tell yourself they are wrong.

So glad your inner self won that battle.

Tracee

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Battered Women, Time To Leave

By Tracee Sioux

Did everyone see Oprah yesterday? About the battered women and what staying in this type of situation does to their children?

I know this column will reach a battered woman, because according to the US Justice Department, 30 percent of women are beaten by a significant other at one time or another.

This is an issue very close to my heart as I was a battered girlfriend for two years, between 14 and 16-years-old, so I actually know why these women stay. I also know how much courage it took to leave.

In college, when a boyfriend started getting abusive I left quickly. But then he stalked me for months and finally the police were going to put him away for two years. I begged them not to. I knew the last thing I needed was for that man to plot my murder for two years. The court required him to leave the state immediately and not allow him to return for two years to avoid prison.

The key, of both yesterday’s Oprah and my personal experience, was said very clearly by the battered woman’s son who witnessed everything.

DO NOT STAY!

Many women stay because of their children. I can understand the thinking behind this. You don’t want your children to come from a broken home. You don’t want to put them through a divorce. You don’t want the stigma.

You are so confused that you think he will change. That if you do enough things right, he will stop his abusive behavior. You believe him when he says “You make me hit you, if you had cleaned the house like you were supposed to then I wouldn’t have to hit you.”

You believe him because you want to believe you can somehow make him stop by being exactly what he wants you to be. You believe him because this is logic you use on your kids and you are telling the truth, “If you cleaned your room yesterday you wouldn’t be grounded.” You want him to be telling the truth, but he’s not.

You believe, in your heart, that you deserve abuse because you are a terrible person. You are a whore, a slut, a horrible mother, a bad cook, a terrible housekeeper, stupid, idiotic, moronic. Whatever names he chooses to call you. The worst my ex-boyfriend would call me was “used-meat.” After all, who wants a girl who’s not a virgin anymore? You have been listening to his berating of your self for so long that you believe every word of it is true. That’s why you stay. You stay because you think no one else would want you and you’re not strong enough to stand on your own. This is emotional terrorism and every word he says is untrue.

To get out you need to repeat to yourself all the good and wonderful and true qualities about you over and over and over until you believe them enough to go. You need to quietly work your self-worth up through praise of self until you no longer believe his lies about you.

Your daughter, when she hears his opinion of you over and over and sees him hit you, comes to believe these things, not only about you, but about her own self. If you are a terrible slut, then she is a terrible slut. If you deserve to be hit, then she does as well. It doesn’t matter if she is three or 14, the result will be that she will find someone who hits her or emotionally terrorizes her and she will call it love.

You can not raise an empowered girl if you are staying in an abusive relationship. It is an unequivocal impossibility.

Battered women, I know it’s hard to feel that you are worth leaving him for. But, it’s not as hard to feel that your children are worth leaving for. And they are.

The last bit of advice is not to leave without a plan. I left without a plan twice. Frankly, it was scary. Both times the man stalked me, attacked me in public, stole my mail, called my job so many times I got fired, harassed my friends, broke into my house, etc.

This is the link to Oprah’s resources about how to make an escape plan. Here, also, is a link to the National Domestic Violence Hotline website.

You are strong enough to make it on your own.
You are good enough to find someone else.
You are smart enough to find your way out of this.
You are a wonderful person who deserves to be free of abuse.

8 comments:

Janet said...

I'm glad you were watching Oprah, and thanks for sharing this important message. I hope many people read your blog today.

Janet

Rebecca said...

I agree. I deleted that Oprah b/c I thought it would be too depressing. But I'm certainly glad you did and posted this message!

Pamm said...

I'm so glad you left the situation and never looked back, took care of yourself. I know that people get so foggy in relationships. It's easy to let things go, women get confused, the days turn into weeks and months.

My best friend was terribly abused but had the strength to leave the father of her four kids and take them to safety. But it took her awhile to leave as she would literally forget what had happened, not understanding how her arm got broken, her eye bruised.

These women live in fear the likes of what most of us cannot fathom.

Thanks for reaching out to them. Blessings!

So Sioux Me said...

Thanks Janet, I actually said a prayer that all who need to read it will. Tracee

So Sioux Me said...

Rebecca,

It was both depressing and empowering. Empowering because as Oprah said, our Grandmothers had no resources if they were abused and now there is a ton of help for women. It wasn't even against the law in my grandmother's day. Nor, could a woman really support her self and kids if she left.

Thank God there is help out there for women now. And even more Thank God women can walk away and get jobs to take care of themselves.

Tracee

So Sioux Me said...

Pamm,

Denial is insideous and difficult to swim your way out of.

It's a bizarro trick our brains play on us to protect us from our own reality. Having experienced a lot of denial myself, I think it's our way of storing up energy until we have enough of it to take action.

Our brain knows that we aren't strong enough to take appropriate action so it blesses us and curses us with "forgetfullness" or denial of reality. If you are not strong enough to leave then it would be cruel to make us face our reality dead on every day. So, our brains create the fiction of a normal life until we are ready.

Tracee

kailani said...

I was once in an abusive relationship when I was single. Unfortunately, I stayed with him for 2 years. He had me convinced that I didn't deserve any better. I finally decided to get some self-worth and leave. He ended up taking my cat and putting him to sleep. Psycho!

Anyway, thank you for sharing this with the Carnival of Family Life. Glad you could join us this week!

So Sioux Me said...

Kailani,

I'm so glad you left. I hope your significan other "picker" has improved. I know mine has. It's insane to think that when someone you love tells you over and over that you are no good, it's so easy to believe them and so difficult to tell yourself they are wrong.

So glad your inner self won that battle.

Tracee