I have long tried to explain to others what it is like to be in a domestic violence situation and why it is so hard to get out. I have tried to figure out how we get ourselves into such situations in the first place. And I have always emphasized how important it is to get counseling once you have successfully gotten away. However, I am just now realizing that no matter how long it has been since the abuse occurred, no matter how long it lasted, no matter how strong you are in your efforts to move on, you can never completely leave behind the abuse no matter how long you live.
I am just now realizing that no matter how long it has been since the abuse occurred, no matter how long it lasted, no matter how strong you are in your efforts to move on, you can never completely leave behind the abuse no matter how long you live.
For me, facing the muzzle of a shotgun on a regular basis is the memory that flashes back in many different ways for me. I find that I am intimidated when someone moves quickly into my face or approaches with a finger pointed at me, especially if they are yelling or making demeaning comments at the same time. Even now, although there is no gun coming at me, my mind responds in the same way as if it were a gun and I find myself shrinking away and feeling the need to protect myself by raising my arms. When a gun is pointed at you, you don’t have time to think through the best way to act or react and even in the non-threatening moments, the focus is on how to survive above all else.
I quickly learned that the worst thing that I could do in such a situation was to be aggressive. I would both beg and grovel for him to put down the gun or I would become completely silent and just do whatever he wanted me to do at that moment. I understood that there is no way in which you can reason with a person who is so out of control that they would attack another person, especially when it is someone that they “love”. So even to this day, whether it is a personal situation or a professional, I will retreat in some manner and then assess the situation. If it is something that I believe that I can resolve or something in which I really believe, I will go back to discuss and/or resolve. However, if it is a “friend” or a boss or other person of authority who needs to control every situation, I will do what I need to do in order to survive until such time as I find the right moment to move on, never to return.
For you, it doesn’t need to be a gun in your face. If you think back to how you were treated as a child and through other phases of your life, the probability is very high that you were abused in some way. If you stop and think about those times and how you felt and how it changed you, you will start to understand how abuse does change a life. What do you do as a result of the abuse that you received? Do you do as I do and walk away from confrontation? Do you go into an “attack” mode wanting to prove that you are right and everyone else needs to understand that and behave accordingly? Do you abuse others but don’t care that you do? Do others abuse you but you refuse to acknowledge it? There are so many questions to ask yourself about how abuse has affected your life and there are many choices that you can choose with regard to how you want to deal with it. Hopefully you will take the time to assess how the abuse that you have received in the past has affected you and how you treat those around you. It will be more than worth it to you and hopefully it will allow you to make conscious choices in how you treat others in the same way as you want to be treated.
If you or anyone you know is a victim of domestic abuse, you can seek help through the National Domestic Violence Hotline – 800-799-SAFE (7233) – 1.800.787.3224 (TTY).
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Barbara Jacoby is an award winning blogger that has contributed her writings to multiple online publications that have touched readers worldwide.