Here at Cedar Rapids Moms, we support one another during the ups and down of motherhood and parenting.
Like all things in life – it’s not always sunshine and rainbows. Sometimes it can be dark, ugly, behind closed doors and when no one is looking.
October is a busy month as far as awareness. It holds Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness, Red Ribbon Week, ADHD Awareness, Liver Awareness and Down Syndrome Awareness. But there is another that is also so very important.
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
The statistics are staggering. 1 in 4 women and 1 in 10 men encounter relationship violence in their life. Black women are three times as likely to experience domestic violence in their life. People with disabilities are more vulnerable to violence and coercion due to isolation and denial of basic human rights. About 20 people every minute are a victim of partner violence.
Domestic violence awareness is important because it is far more than physical violence – it can also include emotional abuse, gaslighting, financial control, misusing technology, threatening words or actions, intimidation, pet abuse, or sexual coercion.
None of it is okay.
Why do victims not get away? It’s not always that easy. Some may have nowhere to turn to (there is always help!) or may rely on their partner for financial stability or are afraid of being blamed by the perpetrators. They’re afraid they may not be believed if they have a partner who paints a picture of perfection (Ask me how I know about this).
To those of you who are suffering in silence – you may be afraid of being away from your children if you wind up having to share custody with their other parent. You might be afraid of being alone or having to return to the workforce after being out for so long. This is normal. You may be holding onto the hope that this can work so you can give your children the “happy family” you so desperately want. And it still may. Marriage and relationship counseling is always an option.
Here are a few things to keep in the back of your head if you’re afraid to leave or not ready to
- You did nothing to deserve this. No one deserves to hear the things abusers say. Do not blame yourself. While this is easier said than done, listening to those things will wreck your mental health. Block them out. Ask yourself if you want to be hearing these things 5-10-15 years. What about when your children are grown and gone? You don’t.
- Children are affected even if you think they are too young or that they don’t notice. Something I realized much later as an adult was how much children learn relationships from their parents. My son is 11 and I’ve been separated from his dad since he was 18 months old. He has openly noticed the difference in my husband and I vs my ex and his wife. My brother and now-husband are both far more like my stepfather than my biological dad.
- It will not be easy. Being apart from your children for any length of time is not easy. Shouldering all the parenting is not easy. But something to remember – your children are not getting the short end of the stick. They are getting the best version of you they can. A parent who is putting themselves first so THEY can be the best parent they can be.
- Ask yourself if you really want to leave or if you’re just hoping your partner will change. This may sound harsh at first glance but hear me out. It’s easy to think “They will change” – but the act must come from within them and does not occur overnight or without help. I also ask this because – when push comes to shove, and you have to figure out moving, childcare, a new job, custody schedules and child support – it may become overwhelming and just be easier to swallow your pride and stay in your situation. Step back and remove your children from your situation – would you stay?
I have rarely talked publicly about my experience. Mainly because the experience was messy, and almost no one believed me – until they did.
In short – there was a lot of emotional and verbal abuse and gaslighting. He tried to isolate me from friends he did not approve of. He hated that I loved to read and told me where I was “going” because I read 50 Shades of Grey. I had not really “given birth” to our son because I had had an epidural. I was the wrong religion. I thought I was stuck- we had a child together and I only worked part time. He insisted on giving our son a “typical family” (He often threw at me that I was messed up because my parents divorced when I was a toddler). He never once struck me – but I knew he thought about it. I heard from others who knew him that he wanted to.
After an unexpected medical issue caught up to me – I required a hospital stay & surgery that he couldn’t be bothered to be there for- except telling anyone who would listen that I was faking – I was done. Our breakup was messy and very public (Once you do get away – be silent about it on social media). He painted the picture that I was crazy. I knew I wasn’t and so did the people who were closest to me. He destroyed many of my personal possessions (never touching our son’s). I ignored it all. He still acts this way. All his former partners are too afraid to come forward. But not me.
Less than a year later – a similar situation occurred with him and another girl. Those hadn’t believed me before then began to. I knew I had done the right thing. For myself, for my son. It’s been almost 10 years since I got away. Ten years since I couldn’t take it anymore. I’ve never regretted it for a second. You will not either. The moment I knew I was truly free from his grip was the highest high I’ve had in life – other than the birth of my children.
My Final Thoughts
No one deserves to suffer in silence. No child deserves to hear their parent belittled by the other parent. No person deserves belittling by their partner. Change does not come from promises you’ve heard before- it comes from wanting to.
Those of you out there who are suffering but afraid to leave or cant leave – I see you. I believe you.
If you or someone you know is suffering from Domestic Abuse….
National Domestic Abuse Hotline: 800-799-7233
National Domestic Abuse Website