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When Band-Aids Aren't Enough
"Torn" wrote in several years ago to ask for advice about her verbally abusive relationship.
I suggested several things that helped the situation — for a while. They turned out to be Band-Aids, not a cure. Torn is back with an update . . .
"This summer, my relationship worsened to the point where I was fearful for my life and sanity. With the support of a shelter, I asked my husband to leave, which he did, eventually.
"I have two kids. One was 3-years-old and the other 18 months at the time. I was afraid that if I was having a hard time coping with them with two adults in the house, that I couldn't make it on my own. I was completely wrong. Life as a single parent — without abuse — is 10 times easier than life married to an abuser.
"I have my joy back. I have my life back. And the kids have been fine. We've had our sad moments when they miss Daddy, but they see him nearly as much as when he was home. The oldest has commented that he likes it much better with no shouting."
Torn has advice to readers who are in an abusive relationship and don't think they have any options.
"Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE or dial 2-1-1, for a referral service. They both have websites, and they'll both get you in touch with places where you can go in and talk things over, like at a local shelter.
"Family and friends often react with disbelief if you tell them you're being abused. They may accuse you of making everything up or imply that you should try harder or do something differently to make the abuse stop.
" After speaking with your family and/or friends, then get in touch with your local domestic violence shelter. Despite the name, shelters are not just for people looking for housing while leaving a relationship. The ones I know offer free counseling, resources for free legal and economic help, and support groups for those looking for more information. You don't even have to believe you're in an abusive relationship. Most people, when they seek help, are still evaluating if whether what they're experiencing is truly abuse.
"What the shelters won't do is tell you to leave or stay. That is your decision. If you want to stay, they'll help you get the education about abuse that you need to try and make it work. Sometimes, that's successful. If you want to leave, they'll help you do so safely and in the best possible manner for you.
"It's always your decision. The last thing someone who's being abused needs is someone telling her what he or she should do, should have done, or isn't doing right. That's what abusers do. To free yourself of abuse, you have to start getting in touch with what you want and need, which if you're being abused has been carefully hidden for so long that you can't easily find it. If you really want to help someone, support them in the process of finding out what they want, rather than being another voice telling them what they need to do.
"I would like to also suggest a couple books, "Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men" by Lundy Bancroft and the works of Patricia Evans."
Women, how do you meet men? Men how do you meet women? Send your tale, along with your questions, problems and rants to firstname.lastname@example.org. To find out more about Cheryl Lavin, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.
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