Community Advocacy and Support by and for Young Mothers

Escaping Abuse

Escaping Abuse
By A Safe Mama

It was a sunny day in June the first time he hit me. We were in my car, I had just bailed him out of jail, and I was the (un)lucky person who got to tell him that his parents said he wasn’t allowed to come back home. We went to get something to eat and on the way back to his parents’ house to pick up a few things, he did it. He punched me in the arm. I was shocked, I was mad, I was crying. I pulled over and he got out of my car. I should have shut the door and shut him out of my life right then, but I didn’t. When he got out he told me that it was over and he was leaving me.

There I was, 19 with an almost 1 year old, my arm starting to bruise and swell, and all I could do was cry “No baby, don’t leave me, I love you!” The sad part is, I really thought I did. He was great for the next week or so. We went on a family vacation, and when we got back we were moving in together. I knew this would fix everything. We would be the happy little family on TV.

That wasn’t the case at all; in fact it was the opposite. He started doing more drugs and doing less around the house and for our child. I wasn’t allowed to work but he didn’t have a job. Money was beyond tight and he made me steal from my parents. He told his mom he had a job and since they thought he was being so responsible, they paid our rent each month.

The abuse got worse and worse as the weeks went on. He would have his friends over and they would get high, they would leave and I would receive his anger. I was hit, pushed, cut, punched, had a knife held to me, and was thrown into walls. I would be covered in bruises and scabs and no one would ever say anything to me. This went on from June to December. I must have left him three times between then, but I couldn’t stay away. I didn’t have the support I needed and I didn’t feel comfortable telling anyone the hell I was going through.

Finally on December 23, I got enough courage to call my mom and dad and tell them what as going on. They let us move back in with them. If it weren’t for the support my parents gave me that night I called, I’m not sure I would be sitting here typing this right now.

I am including a list of questions to ask yourself if you feel like you are being abused or were abused, and a checklist of things to look out for. If you are in this situation there is help out there for you. You can do it even if you feel all alone. There are shelters and resources there for you to use, USE THEM.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline number is 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

Ask yourself these questions now…

1.Do you feel less attractive either physically or sexually now than you did before?
2.Do you feel humiliated or ashamed or that no one would want you sexually.
3.Do you feel as though no one would want you for anything OTHER than sex?
4.Do you doubt your judgment, wondering if you are “crazy?”
5.Are you afraid of your partner?
6.Do you express your opinions or stand up for yourself less and less because of what your partner might say or do?
7.Do you look at his/her bad and not-so-bad moods before bringing up a subject?
8.Are you scared of doing something wrong or getting into trouble?
9.Do you see or talk to friends and family less now than you did before?
10.Do you ask permission to spend money, talk to your friends, or to do something?
11.Are you afraid of people?
12.Do you get depressed, feeling trapped and powerless?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might be involved in an abusive relationship, or have been in one in the past. Reflect back to before you were with him or her, before s/he was abusing you. Would you have answered yes to any of those questions then?

Abusive behavior patterns. Does your partner display these?

1.'Jeckel and Hyde behavior': Your partner is wonderful and caring for a while and then will do an about face and be angry about things that they thought were fine at an earlier time. They switch back and forth between behaviors for no apparent reason.

2.'Life Would be so Good If': You frequently think that your relationship would be perfect if not for his or her emotional storms. The storms seem to be coming more and more frequently. Between times, life is wonderful, but when a storm is coming you can often tell by that 'Walking on Eggs Feeling'.

3.'That Walking On Eggs Feeling': You feel at times that any action on your part will cause your partner to erupt into anger. You try to do everything you can think of to avoid it, but the longer the feeling goes on, the more likely the blowup will happen, no matter what you do.

4.'I Can't Stand You, But You Better Not Leave': Your partner keeps telling you that you aren't worth having a relationship with, but will not consider breaking off the relationship. Acts more outrageously when he or she finds out you are attempting to leave the relationship.

5.'So Much, So Fast': Your partner just met you and doesn't know much about you, but he or she has to have you, so you must commit now.

6.'It's You That's the Problem': Your partner never seems to consider his or her own part in your domestic disputes. You get blamed for all problems because of the most ridiculous things.

7.'This Happened to Me and It's All Your Fault': You are blamed for your partner’s problems even when it was his or her responsibility to not make mistakes. This could be things like him or her not getting to work on time and getting in trouble, not getting a job, not paying the bills in a timely manner, etc.

8.'It's Their Fault': Your partner is never the cause of his own problems, if it's not your fault, it was somebody else's.

9.'Overreacting': Your partner way overreacts to little irritations. Small offenses like leaving the cap off the toothpaste cause him or her to have huge anger scenes or act out in an outrageous manner.

10.'I Will Get You for That': Your partner doesn't try to negotiate a better relationship, but retaliates by doing something to you that he or she knows will hurt you emotionally.

11.'All the Fights are about What I Do Wrong': You never seem to be able to talk about his or her wrong actions, the discussion seems to always be about what you did wrong and there seems to be always something new that you did wrong.

12.'You are Worthless': Your partner keeps telling you that all your problems are because you can't manage to do anything right.

13.'Unrealistic Expectations': Your partner is dependent on you for all his/her needs and expects you to be the perfect mate, lover and friend. You are expected to meet all of his/her needs.

14.'Blames Others for His/Her Feelings': You are told, "You make me mad," "you're hurting me by not doing what I ask, or "I can't help being angry".

15.'Intense Jealousy': Your partner tells you that expressing jealousy is a sign of love. Jealousy is a sign of insecurity not love. You are questioned about who you talk to and you may frequently receive calls or unexpected visits during the day.

16.'Isolation': He or She has attempted to cut off your family, friends, and independent financial resources. Your friends and family are put down and you are put down for socializing with them. You or they are accused of ridiculous motives.

Does your partner:
-Control where you go and what you do?
-Constantly criticize you and you abilities as a spouse, partner, parent or employee?
-Behave in an overly protective manner?
-Threaten to hurt you, your children, pets, family members, friends or him/herself?
-Suddenly get angry or lose his/her temper?
-Destroy your personal property?
-Punch, slap, kick, shove, or bite you?
-Prevent you from working or attending school?
-Deny you access to family assets such as bank accounts, credit cards, or car?
-Give you an "allowance" and insist that you account for what you spend?
-Force you to have sex against your will?
-Insult you or call you names?
-Use intimidation or manipulation to control you or your children?
-Humiliate you or your kids in front of others?
-Turn minor incidents into major arguments?
-Blames his/her behavior on you, his/her temper, stress, and drugs/alcohol?

Have any of these incidents happened more than once in your relationship? Over time, have they increased in number or severity?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you are a victim of domestic violence. You need to leave this situation. To do so, you need a safety plan.
Don’t know what that is? Need some help to think of the things you will really need? Keep reading…

A safety plan is a plan of action to enable you to leave your abusive situation.

Here are some important things to think about at first.
-Decide ahead of time where you will go and how you will get there the next time he/she becomes violent.
-Plan an escape route out of your home and teach it to your children.
-Leave $20+, all important documents, an extra set of car keys and extra clothing hidden outside your house or at a neighbor’s.
-Tell someone you trust about the violence. Develop friendships with neighbors. Ask them to call the police if they hear suspicious noises coming from your house.
-Develop a code word with your children, neighbors and friends that lets them know you need to get out immediately.
-Let your children's teachers and school principals know enough about your situation so that they can respond supportively in a crisis.
-During an abusive episode, try to avoid being cornered in a place where there are weapons or sharp or heavy objects.
-Do not try to fight back if he/she seems to be "building up", especially if he's drunk or using drugs. Instead, get out of the house. If you cannot leave safely, keep your back towards an open space, not a corner.
-Go to rooms with doors/windows for escape.
-If you leave, take your children.
-If violence erupts, try to stay near a phone. Call 911 to report any incident of violence.
-Set Up Your Own P.O. Box. Open your own post office box and reroute all important documents (paychecks, food stamps, etc.)
-Set Up Your Own Account. Open a savings account in your own name to establish or increase your independence, even if this means that you have to “hide” money from him.

Before you leave you need to prepare, you can by doing some or all of the following:
-Be Ready To Call. Keep the shelter phone number with you at all times. Also, keep spare change or a calling card with you for any other phone calls you may need to make.
-Memorize Your Plan. Review your safety plan as often as possible in order to plan the safest way to leave your batterer.

Checklist. Things you should take with you when you leave:
-Medical records
-Driver’s license
-Birth certificate
-Leases, deeds
-Bank books
-Insurance papers
-House / car keys
-Address book
-Social security cards
-Welfare ID
-School records
-Work permits
-Green card
-Divorce papers
-Children’s small toys
-Objects you can sell
-Pictures (of abuser & any injuries sustained)—ask your trusted friend or neighbor to help you get pictures, so when you press charges you have proof.

Make sure someone where you go to school and/or work knows what is going on. Tell them all the information so that they can protect you also. Have someone walk you to and from your car if at all possible. If you think you are being followed drive to the nearest police station. File a protective or restraining order. Keep the order with you at all times. Inform EVERYONE about the order.

DO NOT BE AFRAID TO CALL THE POLICE AND/OR A SHELTER. You are strong and you deserve better. You can do this.