In recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, please take a moment to read today’s Blog of the Day by Maryann Patalano and learn to recognize the different forms of abuse and get off the fence today!
Are you on the fence and don’t know which way to go?
Don’t know what to do? Feeling helpless, alone and afraid. Does it seem like no one understands? What will your parents say? What about your co-workers and friends?
Domestic abuse. Workplace abuse. Clergy abuse. Public abuse. Sexual abuse.
I will say it – just because a man (or woman) has not punched your lights out, or left you bruised and bloodied does not mean that you are not a victim of domestic abuse. Keeping it hidden and covering up the public proof of bodily harm does not mean a crime has not been committed. Likewise, keeping your mouth shut about sexual abuse or harassment does not mean it did not happen.
You know that you have been physically harmed by your partner, and if you have children they likely know on some level as well. You may have decided to cover it up, or not to report it for fear of retaliation from the abuser, not wanting to damage their reputation, or you are embarrassed to find yourself in this situation. You choose to keep up the façade of your relationship. You are filled with fear, doubt, and severe anxiety.
Dare I say, even if you have not been pummeled by your partner, keep in mind that their words or behavior towards you, including emotional threats, emotional bashing, slick collusion with others (particularly influencing your children), and gaslighting are all included in the category of abuse. For example, if you have been shamed and dismissed (ignored) for expressing yourself by your partner – that is abuse. You are entitled to have your voice heard and to be respected. It is your partner’s choice (right or wrong) to listen to you or not. The point is that you are a strong person and do not have to succumb to anyone’s “threat” of shame or silence. It is important to recognize that in a healthy relationship it is all right to say whatever your heart is compelled to.
If you have been physically harmed by your partner in the past, this often leads to a constant fear, a perpetual hum of anxiety. Whether you choose to stay or go, the possibility exists that the perpetrator will hurt you again. However, if you choose to stay it is a certainty. Particularly, if there has been no intervention by way communicating or therapy. Either way, if the abuse continues then the perpetrator is, sadly, exercising their free will to inflict harm. Similarly, you also have free will and can choose to stay with them or to drop them – like a hot potato! You have the right to exit a toxic relationship.
Excuses such as, “But he is supporting me,” “He is the father of my child”, “She’s the best I can get,” or “I am embarrassed,” “No one will believe me,” have no merit in the grand scheme of things. Nonetheless, you may harbor limiting beliefs such as these – perhaps because your self-motivated abuser told you so! Why believe him (or her)?? In all likelihood, a realization of the flawed nature of this relationship or situation has become apparent to you on multiple occasions (often described as a “still, small voice” or “intuition”). Perhaps it shows up as that uneasy feeling of “fight or flight.” I submit that this still, small voice turns into a mighty, powerhouse of energy and force when listened to. A force for good – you’re good! A force I would call God or Spirit. Regardless of what you call it, it is you that you failed to act upon the divine guidance you received. You must not ignore the voice. As a spiritual being, you must cultivate the courage to listen to the “still, small voice” and take action – this will save you from harm – every time. Please do not misunderstand my words or my tone – this is not intended to assign blame or shame to the victim. This is meant to say, “Reality check time!”
That being said, be smart about getting away from the abuser. In an emergency, swift action is necessary, of course. However, if you have the wherewithal, then make a plan – which includes soliciting the support of public agencies, friends, and family to execute a “silent exit.” This means when the abuser is at work, traveling or otherwise indisposed, use this time as a safe exit window. The strategy is to have you (and your children) fall into a safety net of support. Keep in mind that during this volatile time that a short period of separation turmoil is worth the long-term benefit of a clean break, a clean slate and the chance to have a positive, loving and supportive relationship in the future.
We know that children learn by example and by experience. As a parent, this is particularly critical to consider when contemplating whether to stay or go in a relationship. If you find that you are “on the fence” about what to do, consider that your inaction in this situation will have lasting and unforeseen effects on the children such as:
- They will accept abuse by others as a normal and natural part of a relationship.
- They will believe that it is okay (normal) for them to inflict abuse on others.
However, once a parent makes the decision to leave, to not tolerate abuse any longer and TAKE ACTION, it is highly likely that the children will gain a measure of self-confidence that will carry on throughout their life. They will see mom or dad as a strong, decisive person who did not tolerate abuse. As a result, they will likely not tolerate similar situations as they mature.
Are you still worried about what your family, friends, and co-workers will think if you blow the whistle and end an abusive relationship? Don’t worry. I think you will find that they support your efforts 100% and will have wished you told them sooner! They love you and believe you deserve the best that life has to offer. They care about your well-being.
Further, don’t make the mistake of believing that abuse only occurs in the home or in romantic relationships. Looking at recent headlines it is painfully evident that it exists in the workplace, in contests, in hallways, on-line – pretty much anywhere and everywhere. No – this is not an exaggeration. The contents of these heading events tend to overlook the fact that being a woman is an incredibly beautiful, powerful experience. Women are glorious, creative, and amazing beings who have been endowed with a Divine specialness that every being – male or female – has been endowed with. An individual’s strength, worth, potential or integrity is not measured by their physical strength, their wealth, or by their “favorable” physical appearance. Your worth is not measured by the eye of a random evaluator. No – it goes much, much deeper. There is a spiritual, energetic and Love-emanating value that is immeasurable in each and every one of us – regardless of gender. Men and woman are equal in their worth. It is true that each offers different gifts and talents, but they are equally relevant and necessary in this universal web of life in which we live. Many may not be aware of their worth – but it exists nonetheless.
Sadly, this lack of self-worth is often expressed by some men in their desire to dominate and abuse women. This is nothing more than a feeble attempt to increase their own sense of power and worth – cowards. Conversely, the lack of self-worth in woman becomes apparent as they remain in abusive relationships, simply not recognizing that they deserve the best out of life.
The fact that our culture looks the other way when women earn less for doing the same job, receive less beneficial treatment by society and are more prone to be subject to abuse in the workplace and in relationships, does not make it right! It simply means that the scale of justice and collective consciousness (“ethers”) teeters towards that side of the pendulum. We can change the swing of the pendulum by recognizing peace, love, and worth as the universal TRUTH which applies to everyone. Accepting this TRUTH and releasing it into the ethers, will result in eventual manifestation and change. But for the moment, practical action is warranted.
If there is any value to the abhorrent behavior of others being brought to our attention during this Presidential election, it is this: we recognize that bad behavior exists and we can consciously turn away from it and recognize a greater Truth. I am not suggesting that we put our heads in the sand – this is a very real thing! But, spiritually speaking the continued existence of all things is dependent upon our recognition and belief in these things. Therefore, it is within everyone’s power to no longer believe in or accept abuse. Instead, we must believe in and recognize the strength and Divine worth of each individual. Spiritual strength and clarity in both men and women will reveal that there is no need “to abuse” and no need “to be abused.” Why? Because God (or Spirit or Love) is on the scene, and omnipresent – equally in and trough all things, including ourselves and each other.
And so it is!