Out From Under the Umbrella

playing in the rain


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Intimate Partner Violence: We Get By With a Little Help

 

You probably already know even if you don’t know that you know. You know something isn’t right.  You suspect. Every time you invite your friend out they decline.  They never spend time with others if their spouse isn’t there.  They always defer to their spouse.  They spend an inordinate amount of time making sure their life looks perfect.

things we wish our friends knew but are too afraid to say out loud

Please listen to us.

We need you to listen to us.  We need to learn to trust because, frankly, we’re not sure we can.  Don’t take that personally.  It’s just that the most intimate relationship we have has taken that away from us.  The person we were supposed to trust with everything ruined that.

We’re not likely to just come out and say that we’re being abused.  Hell, we may not even know we’re being abused.  It may have gone on long enough that it’s our normal.  And even if we know it’s hard to admit to someone else.  We don’t even want to admit it to ourselves.  Just be there.  Ask probing questions but don’t pressure.  Listen as much for what we’re not saying as what we are saying.  We need a lifeline.

Please don’t tell us what to do.

We may seem confused.  We are.  But the last thing we need is someone else telling us what to do.  It is likely that our abuser controls most, if not every, aspect of our lives; from how long we spend in the bathroom to what clothes we wear.  Ask us what we want.  That encourages us to think for ourselves. We may not remember the last time what we wanted even mattered.

Please don’t judge us.

If we ever do get up the courage to tell you we need affirmation.  We don’t trust our own judgement.  There were some things that I had to be told were abuse.  Because I’d grown accustomed to it I didn’t realize what was even happening to me.  Coercion is a subtle, but destructive, tactic.  I had to be told that’s a form of rape.

Understand if we’re not ready to leave.  Understand if we never get ready to leave.  Don’t push us to get the hell out no matter how much your mind is screaming “get the hell out”.  Don’t assume it’s because we’re weak.  Encourage us to get help, certainly, but if you push us to leave we will cut off contact with you.  We can’t do that until we’re ready.

Don’t judge us for not leaving.  Leaving is an admission that it’s happening; that it’s real.  We likely told ourselves that this would never be us.  We’d never let this happen.  Likely we’ve denied that it is – to ourselves and to you – in a lot of subtle ways.

Please don’t look at us with those eyes.

Don’t look at us with those knowing eyes; the eyes of pity.  Don’t look at us like we’re a victim.  We don’t want to be victims.  Please don’t treat us like we’re victims.  Please just be normal around us.  Don’t make it awkward.  Talk to us about something else.

Please don’t give up on us.

I know it must be so hard to watch your friend stay in a situation you know in your heart of hearts is dangerous.  It must be awfully tempting to give up on us, to turn away, to throw your hands up in disgust, and just walk away.  Please don’t do that.  Please reassure us that you are there.  Give us a place to go.  Even if we don’t leave permanently we may need temporary shelter.  Please tell us that we can find shelter with you.

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October is domestic violence awareness month

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)