The Silent Victims

Most people think escaping domestic violence is as simple as just walking out the door and never going back, but there is so much more to it than that.

I'm not exactly sure what to write, but I think I will use the list of questions on Vocal as a guide until I get the hang of this. The first one is "What do you love in this world?" Well, I have four children, and I love them more than anything. We have definitely been through a lot of hard times to get where we are now, as we escaped from my abusive husband. A lot of people do not understand when you say you "escaped", because most people think it's as simple as just walking out the door and never going back, but there is so much more to it than that. 

First, a person has to realize that they are a domestic violence victim. They may live in fear for so long that their mind has become accustomed to it and they do not even realize that they are a victim. And trust me, abusers do not always make bruises. They use mental anguish and other tactics to keep their victims under submission. They use threats, and there are times they will be loving so that their victim believes it's not so bad. These are the silent victims who are only needed when their abuser needs money or wants to be glorified for being such a husband and father. To the world, he is the perfect picture of a family man who loves his wife dearly and supports his children because he is a working man. However, behind closed doors, he is a monster. He wants nothing to do with the children when they are home, and he finally wants nothing to do with the wife either. And when his frustration hits for whatever reason, he blames it all on them and yells and belittles them to make himself look big, when he is just a big coward. This fear grips the hearts and minds of the victims until they feel like there is no way out because of the violence of their abuser. They have seen the anger and violence but no one else has. Who is going to believe them? How can they prove it?

Two, when the victim finally finds a way out, she has to have help. She cannot do it alone, because the most dangerous time for those victims is when they finally escape. The abuser may try to hunt them down, and finally makes a public display that lets everyone know just what kind of person they really are, so it is not difficult to get people to believe it anymore. If the woman has no family to help her, she may have to go to a shelter, which is a dirty, crowded place that has no food, and where she faces bullies there, which are other women who have become accustomed to living there and do not like newcomers. If she has children, the shelter is not the best place but it is the only place if her family and friends will not help her. However, the fear is not gone. She lives in fear every day of whether her abuser will find her. If she goes somewhere in public, she is looking around her and her children, wondering if he is going to show up. She has learned to live with this fear, and it haunts her, although she tries not to let her children know how the fear grips her heart every time they walk into a popular shopping mall or a store. She cannot let this fear go because she is afraid if she lets her guard down, he will show up when she is not watching, and who knows what would happen? She can't afford lawyers, because she has most likely been a stay at home mom for several years, and when she applies for jobs, she always gets the same reply "you don't have any work experience", "You have no references". 

It seems like the system is geared to force women to return to their abuser or lose everything. And they wonder why women do not leave abusive men. However, once they are brave enough to escape, they have their children who are depending on them, and they love them more than anything on earth, and that is the only thing that makes her keep fighting and struggling to make it every month. God knows, she has no support from people who see her as simply "a divorced woman with a bunch of kids", and who judge her because she may have to live with her parents or some other family member, or a friend. But her kids see her as their protector, the one who fought for them, and helped them escape from their terror...she's their mom, and she loves them. That's all they know. See, I know this because it is where I am now...

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The Silent Victims
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