When you don’t know

by Anna Blanch on November 26, 2011

Today’s 16 days of action guest post comes from Amy. I’ve gotten to know Amy through our blogs and interactions on twitter. She has a wonderful heart and inquiring spirit. This post comes with a Trigger Warning as it discusses subjects of a sensitive nature, such as rape, sexism, and violent crime and the posts in this series have a trigger warning for traumatic events.

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Abuse is not something I know much about. At least not where first hand experience is concerned. My sister and I were adored by our dad growing up. Still are really. I was his southern belle and my sister his rough and tumble tomboy. We can both still bat our big brown eyes and have him wrapped around our fingers.

When Anna asked me to guest post I wasn’t sure how I would write about violence against women having no personal experience with abuse. I never had close friends who were or have been abused either. God had other plans though. Just a couple of weeks prior I met a survivor of domestic abuse. Someone who is very brave in sharing her story and I felt God nudging me.

Many times we make comments that while well intentioned can be insensitive. So God nudged and I asked my new friend how someone like me,who has no personal experience with abuse, can be sensitive to a situation like hers. What should we say or do and what should we not say and not do?

Many of us may wonder how an abuse victim can stay with their abuser. Yet asking them this question disregards the fact that they do still love their spouse.

Unfortunately, while it may be well intentioned, encouraging an abuse victim to stay and pray that their spouse changes isn’t what they need to hear either and if coming from a church can perpetuate mistrust between the victim and the church.

It would be easy for someone like me to observe from the outside and judge a victim of abuse for not leaving, but that only adds layers to the guilt the abused already places on herself. “Every day I got up I judged myself enough that I couldn’t even stand that I was still breathing……How did this happen?” my friend told me of how she judged herself. When a woman is being abused the last thing she needs is more judgement heaped upon her.

Victims of domestic abuse are very good at hiding so asking them why they didn’t tell someone or come to you about it only causes them more shame.

It is human nature to want to lash out at the abuser. To demonize them, but please don’t. You will quickly lose the trust of your friend.

As with many things if you aren’t sure what to say just listen. Show them they can trust you. You can be supportive by offering your number, a safe place for them to go and even simply a hug. Most likely any human touch they are receiving is anything but loving, While you wait educate yourself. Research domestic abuse centers who can offer help and counseling when they are ready.

“A person being abused DOES NEED to KNOW that their partner will NEVER change until they own their behavior and step out and get treatment.  This is something that you can and should say to a person being abused,” my friend told me when sharing of her fifteen years of abuse. Tell them that the abuse will get worse and that their mental health will deteriorate. “I really wished to this day someone had even just called the police; then I couldn’t lie anymore and I would have had to face it finally.”

I hope if you are like me and have never had experience with domestic abuse that what I learned from my new friend will also help you. And to my new friend thank you for being brave enough to share your story with me.

 

Amy is finding her voice and art through a journey of faith and grace while hopefully encouraging others along the way. She lives in east central Alabama with her husband of 14 years and their 11 year old son. She blogs at Ordinarily Extraordinary and you can find her on twitter as @amykiane.

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This post is part of the 16 Days of Action toward eliminating violence against women. The 16 Days of Action is a global campaign founded by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership at Rutgers University, I’m hosting posts across the 16 days, from 25 November to 10 December. You can help by sharing these posts on social media, by taking care of the women around you, & by standing against violence against women.
Connect with Anna on Academia.edu, Linked In, facebook page, & Twitter.

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  • http://www.pitterlepostings.blogspot.com Pattyann

    Oh, I could add so much to this, but I won't, it is well written and it sheds light on something that should never happen (or at least, not more than once). I will say that the abuser is so very good at making the victim feel as if it is all her fault. She has no self esteem any more, and if it has been going on for years, it is the only way she knows. To make it worse, if she was abused as a child, she doesn't even realize that she needs to get out of the situation. somehow, it is easy to believe that this is the best she deserves. Also, the abuser is violent, but in between the violence, they often treat the victim well and they are good at telling the victim they could behave like this all the time if she just wouldn't……….. do whatever it is that makes them mad. People who don't understand have usually not had to live with violence in their lives. They have been treated as if they were always loved and wanted and needed and valued. It really does come down to believing and understanding that you are and should be loved. Thank you for posing this and for bringing it to light. It can be a dark and hard secret to bear.

  • http://ordinarilyextraordinary.com/ Amy Nabors

    That is a great insight Patty. Thank you for sharing it.

  • http://www.financialplanningadvisors.net/ Financial advisor

    I love your site, but honestly tell you that you need more for him to monitor those who commented with your records.

  • http://thathchickswhacked.blogspot.com Pam

    Hello. I believe that I have a story that you may be interested in. Email me @ pam_wh1tehead@yahoo.com. Thank you. OR you can read from my archived blog posts @ thatchickswhacked.blogspot.com. Start in February 2010.

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