Domestic Violence – Leaving is the Victim’s Choice

Is it time to leave?

If you are a victim of domestic/intimate partner violence, do not take this as encouragement to stay in an abusive relationship. While also for victims, this post is especially aimed at all the family members, friends and coworkers of victims of abuse. I hope victims and those who interact with victims will post a comment for consideration.

It is common for friends and family members to push the victim to leave. Often heard is, “Don’t ever touch my daughter!” or “I’m making it my business!” My own personal experience included my mother yelling at me, “I’ll pay for it if you will just leave and get a divorce.” All this as I held my infant son in my arms, standing in her house while my husband was out carousing with his drinking buddies. It only added to the levels of fear and confusion I was dealing with at the time. And, had I taken her up on that offer, I would never have given birth to my daughter. Life would have been incomplete as I know it today.

When you begin to push your own opinions and convictions onto the victim, even though not intended, it adds to their pressure, confusion and guilt. They cannot be put into a position of feeling it is their responsibility to make everyone happy. You see, we already have learned to put everyone ahead of our own wellbeing. Our abuser or perpetrator has programmed us to do just that, and by pushing the victim to make a choice, you only add to their dilemma and their abuse mentality. Ironically, your good intentions may only bring forth resentment from the victim.

A victim of abuse often becomes part of “the walking dead,” if you will. We go through motions, do what we feel is expected of us, but never stop to consider what we want to do with our lives. It’s all about everyone except ourselves.

What can you do to help a victim? Support them in their choices. That is not to say you are supportive of the choices they make, but you are supportive of the victim personally. Let them know you care, that you love them, and that you are there – if and when they ever want to talk, or perhaps need your help.

Share valuable information that will help them make wiser decisions. See the Victim Support page on my website. Encourage them to read the posts on this blog. Give them the number to the domestic violence hotline in your area, or tell them if they are ever in crisis and just need someone to talk to, call 211. If they feel their life is in danger, tell them to dial 911.

What you do not need to do is tell them to pray harder, leave sooner or get a divorce. The key factor here is to encourage the victim to take back the power and control over their own life. Telling them what to do is just another form of power and control that does not belong to them. Supporting them, encouraging them to find their own answers and making them realize you are there is what a victim needs most.

Listen to Carolyn’s interview with Cynthia Brennen, on “Help, Hope & Healing.” Visit her Everyday Health blog, Emotional Wellbeing, or her website at orangeblossomwishes.com

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