See Something, Say Something, Do Something

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When I was in a domestic violence situation, there were many opportunities for intervention by acquaintances and strangers who witnessed the abuse. Yet no one wanted to get involved and I did everything I could to keep up appearances.

I was silently screaming for help but was too ashamed to reach out. How I wanted someone to care enough to take the situation out of my hands, to force me to leave. I suppose acquaintances were afraid of my ex because it was obvious that he was vindictive. My family respected my boundaries and honored my choices leaving me to feel love for their lack of interference and resentment for their lack of interference. Domestic violence victims experience many emotions, one being confusion.

I have been publicly humiliated, threatened and emotionally, physically and verbally abused to which there were witnesses – Strangers, acquaintances, family and friends. No one had the courage to stand up for me or even reach out to me. The two times I reached out to acquaintances, they told me that they didn’t want to get involved because they didn’t want to lose his business/friendship. My family respected my choices and boundaries even though they disapproved. I have never been more alone.

The thing is that most victims of domestic violence are like children, they feel helpless and they obviously live in fear. People in general are afraid of losing the victim’s friendship or love by what they consider to be interference. There is also a fear of crossing the victim’s boundaries. To those people I say, “Would you prefer to risk their losing their lives or having a psychotic break or risk their being angry and/or losing their friendship/love?”

I believe that when you love and/or care about someone, you have a responsibility to have the hard conversations. There are times when you have to put another person’s health and well-being before your own feelings and fears. I am not asking that you put your own life at risk but there are things that can be done safely such as:

  • Have a conversation regarding their situation calmly and rationally.
  • Explore options with the victim to staying in the relationship.
  • Offer financial or housing assistance until they can get stabilized.
  • Help the victim make a safety and/or escape plan.
  • Supply them with the number to a Domestic Violence Shelter and/or Hotline
  • Offer the victim transportation to a shelter.
  • Let them know they can reach out to you any time day or night.
  • Encourage them to report the abuse to law enforcement.
  • Call the police.
  • Create a distraction giving the victim a chance to escape.
  • When strangers, make it obvious to the abuser that they have been observed, therefore, can be identified.

Unfortunately, the decision to leave has to be the victim’s. Often there are circumstances which prevent them from leaving such as lack of funds, no place to go, children’s safety etc. When a victim is forced to leave or take action, more times than not they can be easily enticed by the abuser to go back.

Please don’t make excuses to look the other way. If one day your son or daughter became a victim of domestic violence, what would you want someone to do?

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11 thoughts on “See Something, Say Something, Do Something

  1. Twice I got the woman I cared about to safety… Two years ago near thanksgiving I flew across the country a few times, put her up in a hotel for 30 days… She went back to him. In March I got her to safety for 54 days…. What did she do… You got it… Unbelievable

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    1. Abusers are very charming. There is a pattern. “I am so sorry, I’m going to change. Look I bought u a new car” etc I was surprised to find out that they use the same abuse methods. My counselor told me that in order to break the cycle, I couldn’t see or talk to him. Nor could I have anything to do with common friends or acquaintances. That is what got me through. Actually it was a relief. When I was strong enough to talk to him for the last time, he tried to play on my emotions. It was on the phone and I stared at one spot on the walk and kept repeating to him, “This divorce must go through.” And “Don’t get help for me, get it for yourself because I won’t be there for you.” I don’t hate him because I know what he witnessed with his parents and the emotional blackmail his mother put him through.? Yet, I don’t excuse him either. There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that he loved and loves me even after 22 years but he is an alcoholic drinking or not and severely emotionally damaged. I appreciate your friendship and your reading my “stuff”

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      1. It’s women look for pain, I think I spent 30,000 dollars over those weeks flying back and forth and hotels, food, clothes, a couple of laptops, a phone and caring… Just for her to go back to the guy who dumped her out at a hole of a motel once and on a road in Fla… And get this, she blocked me. I cared when none of her family cared….

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      2. He made her block you. He controls her, isolates her. He’s like crack cocaine to her. I wasn’t addicted as much as I was just stuck. I guess I would tell myself I could get through the bad times because the good times were so good. It was never really about me for him, he is a Mysogenist with a classic love/hate relationship with his mother. Talk about a convoluted relationship, it was so sick. I got caught up in it because I understood it, it complicated things for me. I think I just needed to be loved and he was fun, intelligent and interesting.

        Using a phone to blog is more difficult for me but I am very wordy.😆

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      3. Yeah I figured he did, “You know that isn’t good for you! He’s got your mind thinking these things.” Yeah, I hear you… I cared. I figure it will either end up with her dead by his hands or her in jail… I think with her and me it was a karmic thing, old business needing to be finished

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  2. A very pertinent issue! Being a social worker, I regularly come across real life situations of women facing domestic violence. Sadly, inspite of the regular tortures, not many women want to got to the police. Either they are afraid of approaching the police or have a fear of social stigma! It is very challenging to change the mind-set! Well-written piece!

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    1. Thank you. Pardon my expression but “shit is warm but it stinks after a while”. It was a lot about dependency for me. I didn’t want to give up my comfy lifestyle and I saw him as a friend and I knew his family background. Understanding him made it more complicated for me.

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  3. I like that you noted that, “…the decision to leave has to be the victim’s.” There’s SO much truth to that statement. Other people can try to help, but it has to come down to the victim accepting the help and choosing to leave.

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  4. When a woman is in an abusive relationship, she may need help making decisions but in my opinion should always be asked or ask. She has been in a controlled situation and deciding to leave is her first act of empowerment. If the decision is made for her, she continues her dependency. At least that is the way it was for me. My brother tried to push me into getting more out of the settlement and kept ranting about my ex and I had to leave my brother’s home home as every bit of confidence I built up in leaving, detaching my life from my ex, insisting on a divorce, all while trying to maintain a mature attitude with my ex in order to do what it took to get the divorce was destroyed. My pride was destroyed. Yes, I let that happen but I was very fragile. I accomplished so much after I left my ex with the support of my mother who had asked more than once if I was going to get a divorce and I told her that it had to be my decision. She respected that and harbored no hate for my ex, only compassion. If I had to listen to her rail against him every day, my pride would have been destroyed. I felt I was in control of my own life. It was no longer about him.

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