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.
“They blame me…”
“They said I must not have been a good enough wife…”
“Is it okay to ask the father to pay for my child?”
“I’m not allowed to leave the house.”
“Being a single mom, feel people look down on me as I matter less.”
What Single Moms Need
Those are just a few of the things I’ve heard over the year, since I started a local support group for single mothers called Single Moms Indonesia.
Living in a patriarchal country Indonesia, women still get blamed for filing divorce. The religious divorce court will put the blame on the women. The court will have a mediation session that almost always ended up with a panel of male officials putting the blame on the women. Women are usually prone to be verbally abused in this situation. It doesn’t matter if the woman filed for divorce following her husband’s infidelity or even abuse.
Indonesians have one word for divorced woman and it is laden with a negative connotation. The word is “Janda” and it’s true meanings are: a woman whose husband has died, or she is a divorcee. I’m not a fan of the word because of the shadowing negativity behind it. The word has turned into a label. It means that the woman behind it is someone who will seduce another’s husband, who ‘asked for it’. It means a woman who is worthy of all the juicy gossips.
To hear members of the support group that live outside of Jakarta, in small towns talked about how they are being isolated just because the neighbor thinks she may pose a threat for being divorced really disturbs me. Not only have these women lost their families but they are also being shunned by the society and having little supports from the government.
What these women need are our support. They do not want to be blamed for their decisions in life. They do not want to be made embarrassed and put on the spot often in a derogatory way.
What single moms in Indonesia needs:
- Emotional support. Some members of our group choose to be anonymous because they fear that their families or friends will start gossiping.
- Financial Education. Having to be responsible for their own financial state can be daunting for some women especially if they have never work before. Financial education can really help single moms to make better choices or investment.
- Parenting Therapy/Support. Often times single moms here are stressed borderline depressed going through their divorce process this can greatly impact the way they mother to their children.
- Affordable Daycare. One of the biggest challenges of working single mothers in Jakarta and Indonesia, in general, is the lack of affordable daycare available.
- Affordable Housing. With prices of housing skyrocketing in Indonesia, plenty of single mothers are forced to move back in, with their parents or rent the cheapest place they can afford.
- Child Support. There is no legal binding laws or government agency in Indonesia that assure children out of divorce families are financially taken care of. In most cases, men just flee and leave the financial burden of raising children to their ex-spouse.
I know these are very general things that not only Indonesian single moms needs, but all single parents needs.
Maybe as a society the simple first step we could take is to be kind and understanding towards single moms because deep down we are all just trying to do our best with the circumstances we are forced to be in, in this life.
Single moms, just like the rest are trying to make it work and to raise children who will become great individuals in the future.
How is life for single moms in your country? Does your government provide special assistant for single parents?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog from our writer and single-mom to one in Jakarta, Maureen.
Photo credit to unsplash.com
Susi Pudjiastuti, Minister of Maritime and Fisheries
Big changes are taking place in Indonesia lately with the new President Joko Widodo (or as we Indonesians lovingly call him, Jokowi) taking office last month.
Six days after he took office, Jokowi announced his cabinet lineup to the public. Eight women out of a total of 34 have been elected as ministers. It was the highest number of female cabinet ministers that has ever been elected in our country’s history and demonstrates Jokowi’s courage in giving women an opportunity.
Gender equality opportunity seems to have a brighter future with this cabinet lineup.
One of the women ministers that has been elected is Susi Pudjiastuti. She was elected as Minister of Maritime and Fisheries.
The media have been talking about Susi all of a sudden. She even became a trending topic on Twitter. Her election as a minister created a big controversy here.
She was not someone that came from any political affiliate. She is a bit different compared with some other women in world politics, like Hillary Clinton or Angela Merkel; she is a business woman. She smokes, she doesn’t have a PhD or any prestigious titles lined up behind her name – she actually dropped out of high school and unlike some others, she didn’t drop out of school because she was poor, it was actually because she felt she wasn’t happy even when she was reportedly a bright student. She decided to follow her own path at the tender age of 17.
With roughly $75, she started her first entrepreneurship in Pangandaran, Central Java with a fishery business. In 1996 she formed her own company called PT. ASI Pudjiastuti Marine Product. After her business expanded throughout Asia and America, she realized she needed a fast and reliable way to transport the seafood products to the buyers. Then Susi Air was born. She built her own aviation company even obtaining her own pilot license. Her airline now serves publicly in many remote parts of Indonesia.
Sadly, the media coverage she received was not because of her achievements or the many awards she has received over the years. The media coverage arose because she has tattoos, because she smokes, is a social drinker and a single mom, formerly married to Caucasian men twice.
Her detractors started judging her personal life, discrediting her ability to hold her role as a minister while she jumped head first into her new job in the government and making the necessary changes.
Among the negative comments however there also has been a lot of support for Susi. I am one of those big supporters.
In my eyes, I see a strong woman, someone very capable and who seems to have a strong character and is very intelligent despite her lack of a college education. Being a successful, independent single mother will really inspire other single mothers in Indonesia. We now have the first single mother minister in the history of Indonesia.
For the Indonesian patriarchy system, this feels like a big breakthrough and already she is busy working hard to fix the maritime and fisheries industry. Jokowi believes in her and that she has what it takes to get the job done and to create breakthroughs.
Jokowi is leading the way by giving Susi Pudjiastuti and the rest of the women minister an opportunity to take important roles in the government.
I salute all of these women and wish them all the best in their new roles.
There are many women involved in politics worldwide these days. Do any female politicians inspire you? What do you think of the increased number of women’s involved in politics?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog from our writer and mother of one in Indonesia, Maureen.
The image used in this post is from Susi Pudjiastuti’s public Facebook page. You can view more images of the politician here.
This week’s Saturday Sidebar Question comes from World Moms Blog writer The Alchemist. We know that in reality, all moms are “working” moms, but she is wondering…
“Are you a stay-at-home mom, a working mom, or a work from home mom? Do you want to make the switch now or someday in future? Why or why not?”
Check out what some of our World Moms had to say…
Lady E of Indonesia writes:
“I am a working single mother. I struggle, on a daily basis, to find the balance between meeting the needs of my son and my job while still trying to care for myself in the process. I am incredibly lucky because my son is a student in the wonderful International school where I teach, so I get to see him throughout the day. While I have always yearned for the opportunity to be able to focus only on my son, I know that I derive a great deal of fulfillment from my work. While the grass does often look greener on the stay-at-home Mom side, I cannot imagine my life any other way.” (more…)
Where in the world do you live? And, are you from there?
I live in Bali, Indonesia. I am originally from the US, but have been living abroad since 2005. Prior to Bali, I lived in Togo, South Korea, and Ghana.
What language(s) do you speak?
English and German fluently, and a spattering (enough to survive but not thrive) of a few other languages!
When did you first become a mother? (more…)