Early Signs of Abuse
Posted by Pat Grissom at October 12th, 2016
We are, each of us, our own prisoner. We are locked up in our own story. ~Maxine Kumin
According to The National Coalition against Domestic Violence, one in three women have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner. On a typical day, domestic violence hotlines receive approximately 21,000 calls, an average of close to 15 calls every minute. Intimate partner violence accounts for 15% of all violent crime. Not every relationship that goes south is tainted with abuse, but clearly many are. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. My crowdfunding project, Empowerment through Education, is designed to directly benefit the victims of domestic violence, women in shelters.
Another staggering statistic is the recidivism of women who seek refuge in shelters, which is seven times over their lifetime. That’s right, a woman who enters a shelter on average will return to a shelter seven times over the course of her lifetime. Obviously, there is a dysfunctional cycle that is attracting these women to the same type of person over and over again. That’s why I am so passionate about my crowdfunding project – Empowerment through Education. The goal of this project is two-fold. First, I am helping women see their innate ability to make different choices by providing copies of my book, Too Much Gold to Flush. Second, I am creating scholarships, so they can better support themselves.
When my husband of three months left me three months in our marriage, I was devastated, and I wanted to kill him. Almost immediately, I decided to write a book with which I wanted to expose him as the sex offender and creep that he truly is. Then I realized I knew things about him early on in my relationship that should have sent me running the other direction. These are those early signs of abuse that I personally chose to ignore and explain away. Eventually, those early indicators came back to haunt me. And I had to admit, the truth had been written on the wall and snapping in my face via the red warning flags that I noted throughout our dating stage.
As long as everything was his fault, I never had to own any of the problem. It was simply all about what a horrible person he had been. This shifted all of the control for the situation to my ex. And it left me powerless. When I gave myself permission to look honestly at what my part in the relationship had been, then, and only then, did I have the power to start making different choices. Without this honest evaluation, I felt doomed to repeat this scenario over and over again with other men – just like the women who seek help in shelters.
Like in my earlier blog, I encourage you to be perfectly honest with yourself about the early warning signs that you saw and ignored. Believe me, I know how painful being honest on this topic truly can be. It was my greatest hurdle when I decided to write a book that was 100% authentic. It was so much easier to think about filling pages with all the awful things he had done and what an awful creep he had been. He was, but I also was the one that knew things early on, and yet because of my own background, I chose to justify and rationalize rather than end it like I should have. I wondered how my grown children would react when I told them prior to the book coming out how stupid I had been. Or what my friends would think of me when they read the ugly truth. The idea of putting that into print for everyone to read paralyzed me with fear. Yet I felt determined to write Too Much Gold to Flush. It was not my punishment for having made such idiotic mistakes. Instead it was the key to escaping my self-made prison. It was the means by which I could learn to claim my power and make different choices.
You see those are the statistic that we do not have available to us; how many people who are not seeking shelter are stuck in repeating the same relationship over and over again in their life because they refuse to look at their part of the equation? Rather than own what got them into the relationship, it is much less painful to simple assign blame for what went wrong to their ex. Of course, they did awful things. They wouldn’t be your ex if they had not. But what attracted you to them in the first place? What old issues from childhood were you seeking to heal? What wounds drew you to this person? And what do you still need to address? You don’t have to be in a revolving door leading to a women’s shelter to be stuck in a pattern of repeating the same behavior over and over again in relationships. I expect all of us are – unless we give ourselves permission to look long and hard at your part of your relationships.
You don’t need to write a book about it like I did, but I certainly encourage you to explore this in your journal. Write at length about early signs that you chose to ignore. Focus on boundary issues like refusing to honor the limits you set. And maybe you did not have boundaries. That is an issue in itself. I certainly was guilty of that one.
The other piece of my crowdfunding project is creating college funds for women’s shelters. Thankfully, I grew up with the idea that getting an education was the ticket to happiness. I still believe that, which is why I have spent my life as an educator. As a college professor, I saw the difference an education could make, particularly for individuals who are the first of their family to attend college. I also saw how plentiful the resources are for people who cannot afford to attend college on their own. My college funds are designed to get women started. Once they are part of the system, they can qualify for PELL grants because of their financial status. My goal is to plant the seed of possibility and to help them make that first step.
If you would like to help women help themselves through Empowerment through Education you can donate to the General Donation, which will be split among all the shelters in this campaign. Or, if you are interested in donating to a particular shelter, click here and then scroll down the page and choose a shelter. Once you donate, you will be asked if you want a tax receipt. Click here to see all the shelters in this campaign.
Here is the URL for Empowerment through Education: https://try.tilt.com/empowerment
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