July 22, 2008


This week’s headlines regarding Nancy Cooper’s murder has led me to write this post.


was the mother of two beautiful little girls who are now left to deal with one of the most traumatizing, life altering adversities anyone could ever experience.  Whether her husband is guilty of this murder or not, it brings to light the horrifying reality of domestic violence.


I receive several e-mails from women involved in either physically abusive or emotionally abusive relationships.  Often these women talk about their struggle to leave or their wish for things to change.  They cling to this idea that their partner will come to his senses and all of a sudden see the error of his ways and no longer be abusive.  


I have yet to see this happen.  In fact one truth I know is: wishing the relationship will change, will never change the relationship.


Abusive relationships seldom, if ever, end on a positive note.  From Rachel Entwistle, to Laci Peterson, to countless other women all over the world, women are being killed by their boyfriends and/or husbands every day; in many of these relationships, the children are also being killed. 


Women often do everything they can to keep their partners calm.  They stay, hoping tomorrow will be better.  They try to do what he wants, keep him calm, avoid any disagreements, be a “good wife” and on and on.  


Rather than trying to calm their partner and keeping him from being violent, women have to work on themselves and get the strength to walk away.  Staying in an abusive relationship is, in itself, abusive. 


Women stay out of fear, misguided loyalty, dependency, and a thousand other unhealthy reasons.  They never stay however, without a cost… 


Every day women stay they chip away at their self-esteem.  Everyday they take the abuse they teach their children to take the abuse or to became an abuser.  Everyday they stay…they risk becoming another statistic.  


If you are in an abusive relationship, I want you to understand that the abuse is not about you.  It’s about your partner…period.  Your partner would be abusive with anyone he was with.   It’s not about what you do or don’t do, how you dress, or act, or any other thing he blames on you.  Your partner abuses you because…HE’S ABUSIVE.  Period.


Everyday you choose to stay and wish for change, you put your life and the life of your children or loved ones at risk.  I pray for your sake and theirs that neither of you become a statistic as a result of your choice.


CHALLENGE:  If you’re in an abusive situation get help so you can become strong enough to better protect your self and your children; your life and theirs depends on it.


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I was in an abusive marriage for 19 years. I spent many years trying to escape and did leave many times. The last time I left,two and a half years ago, we had been seperated for a year and a half and the abuse, stalking, property damage increased untill I took my children and moved over 70 miles away. We left everything and started out with nothing. It worked for a while but he is persistant and has found us again. We have moved 4 times in the last two years in an attempt to get "free" from him. I have had him arrested over thirteen times, charges ranging from stalking, violation of order of protection, to felony assaults.... He always pleads guilty and agrees to counseling. He's never served more than twelve hours in jail and is still on probation for the last charge. It seems like a waste of time to even call the law....
This past Sunday he (the ex) shows up and tells me he knows I'm seeing someone and that he will find out who, he says that the divorce means nothing, then grabs me and kisses me forcefully and adds that he'll see me around.
I haven't slept more than a few hours since Sunday. I'm so tired of looking over my shoulder and I don't want the kids to go through the heartbreak of moving again either. It's been hard on them, as well as me, to pull up and move, make new friends, then do it all over again just when we feel "at home."
I have been through this for so long and I know it's going to get worse no matter what I do. It seems that moving again is the only answer. But how far do I have to go and how long before he finds me (us) again?

KATHY: I'm so sorry for what you're going through. Don't give up. Call Women's Protective Services and go see them. They often have safe houses and can help you to move without him finding you. Here's the number: (508) 820-0834. In an emergency, call the 24-hour hotline at (508) 626-8686. Collect calls are accepted.

Call NOW! There are WPS's all over the country and they have domestic violence units that specialize in cases exactly like yours.
Hang in there!

That's interesting, thanks.

Just remember abuse is not just what males do. I was married for 40 years to an abusive woman, For 35 I didn’t realize that I was being abused and at 6’7” no one understood. It was only after moving out did I find some answers to the reasons for my walking on eggshell life and cut off from others. This problem goes both ways. There are just as many abused males as females it’s just that males are better at protecting there self from the physical abuse. Males are better suited “having a job” to leave a situation. But the physical part of abuse is only the final step of a abusive life it starts years before that.

I stayed for 24 years because I didn't think I could ever make it on my own. Then I asked myself this question one day, "Can I imagine spending the REST OF MY LIFE with this person"? The thought was so depressing that it moved me to make the change in my life and leave. I've never been so happy as I am right now. Sure, I struggle financially but it's worth it.

This situation can happen in the reverse it might be that the female is the abuser.

"Just leave" sounds so easy when you're in a nonviolent relationship but it is one of the most terrifying things you'll ever do when leaving someone abusive. The abuser has planted in your mind how this has all happened because you're an awful partner. Often your isolated from your family and friends by the abuser's poor treatment of them. Now you have to make a run for it (in my case when my husband was at work) when you're physically and emotionally exhausted, knowing that the abuser may be coming after you. This is asking everything of you, but there are so many people out there reaching out to help you, if you can just make it far enough to grab their hands.

I grew up in a very peaceful upper middle class family. I had never seen violence and could never have fathomed the kind of man I married. I spent most of my marriage in denial since I didn't have broken bones or dark bruises and this wasn't happening 24 hours a day. I never realized that my definition of abuse was so over blown that I was comparing myself to people who are about to die or more likely already dead. "Abused" is the first time they show they have no respect for another human being by shoving you into a wall, slapping you or even saying cruel things to you. This person doesn't love you, they love getting their way. You deserve better!

If you gather the strength to leave, the shelters, domestic violence organizations will do everything in their power to make you safe and have a chance for a better life (at least where I live). I left with my 2 children and only the clothes on my back. From there I learned that I was not alone and this was not my fault. The domestic violence people (I will always love you guys!) helped me to find agencies for housing, clothing, employment etc. I was well hidden and much safer.

It has been 12 years since I left. I work at an elementary school and have a very kind man in my life. People have only shown me compassion for the situation I was in and no one has ever labeled me a bad wife (ex-husbands divorce lawyer excluded). There are two classic things that abusers do that I have seen and heard from families I have come across. The abuser says they can change over night. If this was true, then they were in full control when they hit you and did it deliberately. Either way you are in twice the danger if you go back to them. The second one is when the abuser gets the divorce papers. They swear they will get counseling if they drop the divorce proceedings. Often they will even start counseling.

Once you drop the divorce, they often file for divorce and try to take custody of the children so they can use them against you. Then the abuser can say you were the one with the problem since they filed. Do not fall for this! Once you start a divorce/dissolution follow it through. Make the abuser get counseling after you are divorced. You can see if it helps them and if by some miracle it does, you can always remarry them. Do not drop the divorce proceedings!!!

Remember that most people want you to have a happy ending!

I just went back to man who I have been with on and off for 9 years. Up until a year and a half ago it was just emotional and mental abuse. but that changed two weeks before Christmas of 06. He hit me four times at close range in the front seat of our Saturn. I ended up with the second blackeye in my life. I stayed for six months till he threw cleaning products at me in a rage. I left and stayed gone for a year. oh I failed to mention we have two kids. I met a really nice guy but, like every women that's been there, I believed he had changed so I went back. He hasn't hit me yet but the emotional and mental is still there. Now I am on the verge of leaving soon again. It is so scary to leave but I know I have to. My question is how do I get myself to trust that I am making the right decision for me and my babies/ and how do I get past being scared of being on my own again?

LISA'S REPLY: You are obviously a very strong woman. Leaving an abuser is very scary and takes a lot of strength. Trust in your strength. Also trust in your instincts. Close your eyes, get centered, and ask yourself if this relationship is a healthy one for both you and your children and are you happy in it. Next, silently tell yourself that you deserve to be treated well. Imagine yourself with this man for the next fifteen years with little to no changes in him...then ask yourself if living with this man would be in the best interest of you and your children. I am confident that you know to your core that it is not; you need to trust that wise voice within yourself and then have the courage to take action for your sake and your children's.

Regarding your fear, you won't get past being scared...what you are about to do is scary. Your fear will keep you vigilant and safer. The way you work with the fear is by living by the old saying: "Feel the fear and do it anyway." Most people are scared; the trick is to not let your fear stop you. Living on your own will be scary at first however, after the initial adjustments, most women are extremely happy they made the decision to leave.

I'm also aware that women in violent relationships are at the most risk of danger when they leave therefore my suggestion is that you get help so you do this the right way and both you and your children are safe. Call Women's Protective Services in your area and make an appointment to see them (and then follow through with the appointment).

I have total faith that you can do this--you need to have that same faith in yourself.
Warm regards-Lisa

How to get help: look in the yellow pages of your phone book under Domestic Abuse or Crisis or Domestic Violence. Call them when you are alone and tell your story. Get yourself (and your children) to the secret domestic abuse shelter (take your money out of any joint accounts on the way). Often the domestic abuse people will come and get you. You will be in a SECRET location. Your abusive partner will not be able to find or contact you. You can breathe. The shelter will help you work through what to do next and you will meet other women who have lived through the same experience. A year from now you will be so, SO glad you did. You will be alive and you will have your life back. Write back here at that time so we can all cheer with you.

Yes. Please get help. I volunteer at a domestic violence shelter and they are wonderful for helping women leave unhealthy relationships of all kinds. Please do not feel that you "are not abused enough" to warrant their help. If you are abused at all, it is too much. You deserve better! Most women realize that this, and all Lisa has mentioned, is true after they are out of the situation. If you are a friend of an abused woman, contact your local domestic violence shelter to find out how to approach your friend and be safe yourself.
Great article Lisa.

Lisa is absolutely right: "Your partner abuses you because…(S)HE’S ABUSIVE. Period." I have experienced a violently drunk step father who beat my mother every time he had one too many. I later married an abusive and controlling woman, and stayed with her for 21 years for the sake of the children. The one thing I've learned is YOU can not change a person's serious personality defects. They are what they are, and only THEY can change. Only a serious "wake up" (like you leaving with the children) will give the the epiphany to change.

LISA'S REPLY: Thank you for reminding all of us that although men are the more common abusers, they are not the only one's who abuse thier partners.

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