This is the last day that I’m writing about what domestic violence looks like and it’s the one of the worst. An abuser will use your children to control you.
“If you leave me, your daughter will grow up to be a stripper. That’s what happens to girls without dads.” Guilt. An abuser will say all kinds of things to cause guilt over your children. Even when you know it would be the best thing for your kids to get them away, the abusers voice has been in your ear for so long, the guilt is hard to overcome. Even when you know it’s not true, it still hurts.
“If you even try to leave, I will take the kids and you will never see them again.” Threats. Threats that probably wouldn’t come true like this one to threats that very easily could come true such as this one: “You know I’ll get 50/50. That’s what the state does. You want to lose her 50% of the time?” Can you imagine leaving your children with an abuser 50% of the time because the courts have ordered it? Children are a valuable asset to the abuser.
Even after you leave, the abuser can use your children against you. They can use visitation against you – harass you through the kids or visitation. It gives them a means to message you, to call you, to always be there hurting you with their words and actions. The things they say to the kids… are probably not meant to hurt the kids. It’s meant to hurt you. It’s you the abuser wants control of after all. But the kids suffer too, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
Nothing you can do to him. But you can get yourself help, your kids help. A good counselor was our life savor. Rebuilding your life one step at a time. Documenting everything he does. Getting a good lawyer… if you can afford one. Seeking out financial help when you can’t. My first go-around with the court system was with a pro-bono lawyer. My last one was a well paid lawyer… and there was an in between lawyer too. You do what you can, when you can. You do the best you can each moment and keep moving forward.
It was my baby girl that gave me the strength to finally leave. It was her that gave me the strength to get through each day… to get the lawyers, to get a counselor, to keep moving forward, to breathe in and out and in and out again. The first years were hard, so hard. It wasn’t until he was out of the picture for good that things really started to get good. We made do until then, but once he was gone… we have survived and we have thrived.
The effects of abuse have lasting effects but every year, it’s less and less. Every year we grow and become stronger. We have an amazing life now. I am strong, my daughter is even stronger. We are blessed and happy and healthy. It’s a long process… one that started for us in 2011… when we left.
Help and healing is possible.
National Domestic Violence Hotline
Love is Respect – the National Dating Abuse Helpline
Text “loveis” to 22522
Live chat at www.loveisrespect.org