Twitter’s #WhyIStayed got our Emotional Mojo producers thinking about domestic violence victims and I had to jump in and share my story…
So, here are my questions...Have you ever been in a relationship where you were punched in the face? Have you ever loved someone that brutally abused you? Have you ever stayed in a relationship after someone broke your back by tossing you down a flight of stairs? If so, there is a strong possibility you are being abused once again as the Raven’s Ray Rice saga continues. Why are you victimized yet again? Because there are those who are being verbally abusive (#whyistayed) and cruel because they cannot understand how you could be so “stupid” to stay in a brutal domestic violent situation. What they don’t understand is that YOU were a victim long before you entered into an abusive relationship. Remember, the opposite-sex parent develops positive and healthy self-esteem. So, there is a possibility that your were not equipped with the necessary skills and tools needed to navigate intimate relationships (this is NOT an excuse, but a fact). Not only have fathers failed female victims, but victims have been failed by a society of leaders that “look the other way.”
After NFL superstar Ray Rice was give a two-game suspension for striking his then fiancé Janayn Palmer in an elevator fight, many were outraged when Palmer married him and refused to press charges. Since the marriage, new footage of the attack was released by TMZ showing Rice throwing a single punch that knocked Palmer unconscious.
So, why do women (or men) stay in abusive relationships? Here are the simple answers with the understanding that abuse is much more complicated than a list of reasons for staying.
2) Financial/Socioeconomic benefits or status
3) Generational belief that abuse is normal
5) Poor self-concept or poor self-esteem
6) Warped love
8) Religious Beliefs
9) Emotional manipulation
We should all understand that victims stay for various reasons. So, since I am a domestic survivor, I will share with you “why I stayed.” As a childhood survivor of domestic violence, I did not know anything else. Unfortunately, I was accustomed to seeing my mother hit, kicked, slapped around and tossed around. I became used to yelling, screaming and broken glass. Is this an “excuse?” NO! It’s just a simple reality. I’d never seen a healthy marriage or intimate relationship. So, naturally I grew up and stayed in several physically and emotionally abusive relationships. It was my mother who called the police several times hoping I would come to my senses and leave the abusive relationship. So, why didn’t I leave? Humiliation, Religious Beliefs and poor self-esteem.
Today, as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, I work with men and women that have suffered physical, psychological, emotionally and spiritual abuse at the hands of someone they love. I fully understand the frustrations of non-victims and non-survivors. However, I plead with you to have mercy and extend grace to those that still struggle to embrace freedom from a domestic violent relationship. Here’s how you can help according to womenshealth.gov:
Here are some ways to help a friend who is being abused:
- Set up a time to talk. Try to make sure you have privacy and won't be distracted or interrupted.
- Let your friend know you're concerned about her safety. Be honest. Tell her about times when you were worried about her. Help her see that what she's going through is not right. Let her know you want to help.
- Be supportive. Listen to your friend. Keep in mind that it may be very hard for her to talk about the abuse. Tell her that she is not alone, and that people want to help.
- Offer specific help. You might say you are willing to just listen, to help her with childcare, or to provide transportation, for example.
- Don't place shame, blame, or guilt on your friend. Don't say, "You just need to leave." Instead, say something like, "I get scared thinking about what might happen to you." Tell her you understand that her situation is very difficult.
- Help her make a safety plan. Safety planning includes picking a place to go and packing important items.
- Encourage your friend to talk to someone who can help. Offer to help her find a local domestic violence agency. Offer to go with her to the agency, the police, or court.
- If your friend decides to stay, continue to be supportive. Your friend may decide to stay in the relationship, or she may leave and then go back many times. It may be hard for you to understand, but people stay in abusive relationships for many reasons. Be supportive, no matter what your friend decides to do.
- Encourage your friend to do things outside of the relationship. It's important for her to see friends and family.
- If your friend decides to leave, continue to offer support. Even though the relationship was abusive, she may feel sad and lonely once it is over. She also may need help getting services from agencies or community groups.
- Keep in mind that you can't "rescue" your friend. She has to be the one to decide it's time to get help. Support her no matter what her decision.
- Let your friend know that you will always be there no matter what.
If you or someone you know are struggling in a domestic violent relationship, contact a therapist today!
Jada Jackson, LMHC
Talk Show Host of Emotional Mojo
Author of Be-You-Tiful: The Threefold Process to Becoming You
Blogger and Author of Jada Jackson: My Story, My Life
The Official Facebook Fan Page: Jada Jackson Life Coach