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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Thursday Love: Living in Fear...How to Cope? Part 5

Jewel of wisdom du jour: Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent - Salvor Hardin

The last two causes of physical abuse that we'll talk about this week are "substance abuse" and "involvement or lack of involvement by bystanders".

Abuse can be fueled by addiction

These last two aren't necessarily root causes of abuse in any form, but they do contribute to the perpetuation of  abuse. In what ways? Think about this....we've all done some pretty stupid things or have made a fool of ourselves as a result of overindulgence in beverages of an alcoholic variety...now would you normally have behaved that way had you not been intoxicated? Chances are the answer is....NO! But what happened....your inhibitions were lowered as a result of the alcohol which caused you to act in a more carefree manner...not really caring if you cursed out your best friend, made out with someone that you'd normally never even talk to, etc. The same thing is true when it comes to people who have abusive tendencies. While they normally (sober) wouldn't even contemplate laying a hand on their partner because of an argument....when they drink or do other drugs...that logical reasoning that pops into their heads to prevent them from acting in that manner....never speaks up! Now granted, the previous causes we spoke about are usually the underlying reasoning behind someone being abusive; along with others that we didn't touch on, but the alcohol or drug is the gate keeper that allows someones range of emotions to swing from calm and relaxed into a violent tirade!!!
Bystanders too can be an impetus for abusive behavior to continue unfettered. Bystanders aren't the ones causing harm to anyone, so how do they have a share in this problem of abuse? Bystanders aren't getting grouped in because of what they did....but for what they DON'T do!

Research has proven that abusers will continue their abuse if they discover that people who know about or suspect abuse are reluctant to intercede. Bystanders usually fear either physical, social, or legal consequences for reporting abuse or attempting to intervene...which usually results in abusers having a sense of invulnerability. And once an abuser feels invulnerable they'll continue the abuse relentlessly, until they go too far and seriously injure their partner or their partner has dealt with it enough and retaliates in a drastic manner.

So as a friend or family member how can you tell if someone close to you is dealing with an abusive relationship at home?

  • They have frequent injuries, especially ones inconsistent with their explanations
  • They're becoming increasingly withdrawn and isolated from you or their family
  • They're jumpy or depressed
  • They seem afraid of their partner
  • Their partner is jealous, possessive, or constantly criticizing
So if we see these things happening in one of our friends or family, looking the other way is NOT an acceptable course of action. And if these these are happening to you, then it's time to make a way out for yourself. How?

Begin by asserting to your partner that you're NOT going to take their abuse anymore, whether verbal or physical. When saying this, make sure that you actually have the resolve to leave if their behavior doesn't improve or gets worse. They have to know that you're willing to leave. Next you need to get and stay prepared just in case things take an ugly turn. Develop a violence safety plan. You need to do this to protect yourself and or children and to help you escape to safety.

Have an overnight bag ready at all times so that if an abrupt exit is necessary....you're ready. This should have money, a change of clothes, extra car or house keys, important information/documents you may need, etc. I would say to hide this bag in as safe a place as possible, however, when dealing with someone who willingly puts their hands on you, it'd be better to hide this bag at a friend's or family members house whom you can trust. Then you need to have an escape plan in place for how you're going to get out of the house if your partner loses their cool. For example...park your car in a way that will allow for a quick exit. Memorize as many important phone numbers as you can because it may not always be possible for you to get to your cell phone. And most important....if running from your abuser, do your best to get outside and away from confined spaces....only lock or barricade yourself into a safe place if that's absolutely necessary.

Lastly, make sure that someone knows what's going on so that they can be there to help you through the situation....there's nothing worse than having that feeling that you have to go through a difficult problem like this alone.

Remember....."You're Worth It".

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