When you leave an abusive relationship, you are driven by fear. At some point you know that if you stay, you’ll die, one way or another. And if you have kids, that they are at great risk too. You may not be able to say that it’s the right choice, because your thoughts are not clear, your mind is dealing with many contradictions; guilt and shame are your best friends for years.
You’ll find on your way back to life, many voices that will make you doubt your decisions to get out of a domestic abuse situation. It will be friends and professionnals. And it will be tough to listen to those people, who seem to know better than you what you went though and what you ought to do to start again. You will listen at first and you will feel less and less powerful, more and more under stress, pressure. All your energy seems gone to a land where you can’t catch it again.
Obviously, the person committing abbuse will do everything to win your back; your kids will be used for bartering —so easy! Many people think that it’s just about leaving domestic abuse, when in fact it’s so much more. It’s about finding yourself again, in a battle that looks like it will never ever end. And, also, it’s about keeping your kids safe and well.
Kids are the priority
Often people tell you—now that you’re out and ready to start a new life away from your abuser—that you have to take care of yourself. On paper, this looks great for sure, but in reality, if you have kids, you will want to protect them first. How can you think about yourself, when for years you have been nothing, and when you have been told you were good for nothing. First things first. Getting out of domestic abuse will cost you: 1. insomnia, 2. a great deal of money to find the best lawyer, 3. countless thoughts about whether you should give him/her another chance…again.
It lasted four years for me, between the time I left to the time the divorce was validated. It was all about our child. As much as I wanted him to have a relationship with his dad, I wanted the law of my country to guarantee the best protection for him too. I knew my ex-husband would do anything to mess it up. And he did.
Domestic abuse doesn’t stop one morning bacause you decide it’s over. It’s always there, not visible, but in the words said, unsaid, in the behaviour, in the way the abuser is changing roles, again and again and again. So you are not able to tell what’s true, what’s not. You’re confused and back under his power once more.
It’s tough when you want your life back but you feel dragged down every time you make a step forward.
Stand your ground
At some stage you will need to get past voices around you and find your own. It’s a step-by-step process, full of ups and downs. I remember feeling free one day and back to darkness the next. But as months went by, I could see more days with freedom and fewer without. When people used to tell me things, I let them talk. By the end of the divorce, I had been through enough to understand a bit more about my ex-husband. He only wanted me to be the bad guy of the story.
But in front of the judge he did not stand any chance. The evidence was against him. People did not know my story. But I knew it by heart. I knew what I lived was not about love but only possession. And that his goal now was not to lose face in front of his family and community. Nothing more.
Know what’s best
I got help. I worked a lot. I wrote many lines. I poured out on to paper all the things I could not get my head around. And there were many. For me, it’s not about will power at first, it’s about understanding what abuse is, how we got there, why and how we can get out of it. It’s an enlightening road, cause when you start walking in your real shoes, you start seeing the whole picture.
I think that we all know what’s best for us, whatever other people think. My son did not see his dad for six years. Today, he is seeing his dad once a month in a supervised center. Many are still telling me that he is his dad and he won’t do anything to harm him, or that maybe he could see him out of this place. For me it’s a NO WAY. I know what’s best for him and me.
At the end of the story, you know you are part of it too. And you start taking care of yourself! Maybe,for the first time in your life!
Do you have any preconceived ideas (we all have some at some stage) about domestic abuse? How is the Law protecting kids and parents in your country?
This is an original post to World Moms Network from our contributor in France, Marie V. The featured image used in this post is attributed to Safe Horizon.
I remember the day I gave birth to my firstborn very well.
After a long exhausting delivery, a baby boy was placed in my arms.
I remember feeling overwhelmed, I remember shaking from exhaustion.
But my fatigue and pain faded to the background, the moment I held him for the first time.
It wasn’t just a child that was born that day, a mother was also born and a love beyond comprehension.
Something in my mind and spirit opened up and I never saw the world the same way again.
From that moment on, I wept, whenever I saw the news.
With every casualty I realized that that was someone’s baby, someone’s child.
The irony is, that at the same time that an alertness and a desire to keep my baby close was awakened in me, a will and force to stand on his own was stirred up in him.
Yes, I had brought this little boy into the world, but he wasn’t mine. Yes, mine to hold, but for a short amount of time. He was born to walk his own course and to be his own person.
To emphasize this the cord binding us together was cut.
And thus started our walk together. His, a walk of learning to take his own steps and mine, a walk of loosening grip by grip.
“Hold my hand as you cross the street.”
“You get back here, young man!”
“Yes, you can walk ahead in front of me as long as I can see you”
“You may ride your bike, but you have to stay on the curb.”
I held him, carried him, I cheered him on.
I held his hand and accompanied him, I sometimes gave him a little push when he lacked confidence.
And on many, many occasions I held him back.
“No, don’t touch that, that’s hot.”
“No, you can’t watch that, you’re too young.”
“No, you can’t go there, that’s too far.”
And now I have to let him go beyond my grasp, beyond my sight.
A part of my job is done and my role is changing.
I can no longer hold him back.
I have to let him go yet a little further.
The other day I accidentally grabbed his hand as we were crossing the street. He quickly pulled his hand away and gave me a look fit for crazy people.
My mistake, I thought, for one moment I mistook you for the little boy you once were.
My little boy is going to high school.
Can someone please hold me now?
Do you have moments that you have trouble letting your child or children go?
This is an original post for World Moms Blog by Mirjam of the Netherlands. Mirjam also blogs at Apples and Roses.
Photo credit: kwanie. This picture has a creative commons attribution license.
Last month’s Atlantic Magazine featured a cover page story on the “Confidence Gap” between men and women. For a variety of reasons both biological and environmental, women drastically underestimate their own competence. This, the article tells us, is a big obstacle to women accomplishing the success they are due.
While it was interesting to me that womankind as a whole seems to value themselves more meanly than mankind, it was all the more interesting to know that I wasn’t alone in feeling anywhere from out of my depth to outright fraudulent in many situations. Apparently many other ladies in the room were likely feeling just the same.
But more than anything else, the article left me examining a gap within myself. The gap between where I feel my confidence ought to be and where is actually is. And where it is, quite frankly, is way….way behind. Let’s say…1994 behind. (more…)
Since my son turned two, I have been getting questions about when another baby might be on the way. But the fact is that I have already have a second baby….my start up. And I’m just barely kidding. My business demands only marginally less time than a baby and gets talked about only a little less than baby number 1 on my Facebook page.
However, I will say that this first business of mine is, as my second child, benefiting from my experience with baby number 1. What I knew about starting a business could have fit on a postage stamp when I began. But I had at least a modestly sized pamphlet’s worth on being a mother.
I have been expanding both knowledge bases as my two babies have grown and I’ve noticed a substantial amount of cross over. Here are my five rules about running a business….or raising a baby…whichever. (more…)
Purnima’s son dressed up as a ‘Rockstar’ for the Fancy Dress Competition.
Here in India there are a lot of competitions conducted for children in a healthy way. Our son recently took part in a competition in early November. You see, it is Children’s Day on the 14th of November and the kids who win are awarded on that day.
It was a fancy dress competition. He was all dressed up. He had reached the final round after clearing two intermediate rounds. He dressed up as a ‘Rockstar’ for the first round and then as ‘The Earth’ for the second round. For the finals, the topic was a bit tricky. We had to dress up depicting any opposite. So I was thinking of good and evil and hot and cold and such things. But he came with Indoor and Outdoor games. Maybe they are not really opposites, so I got a confirmation from the teacher-in-charge and then dressed him up to depict Indoor and Outdoor games.
And just when we were waiting for his chance to get on stage and perform, there was a mother, whose child’s only competition was my son. She came up to us, and tried to discourage my son and demotivate him. I tried to shield him away from her and her stinging words. She joked about it so that I wouldn’t take offense and complain…but tried to do the damage nevertheless.