The Greatest Escape: Things to Think About
The tips in this article should help in your initial planning to become free of violence and be a guide through the first steps of seeking help.
Women all over the world escape domestic violence under extreme and painful conditions. This is not an easy decision. Remind yourself that your choice is one of the most difficult and worthy struggles of all. You are rescuing yourself and your children from a life of terror and crushed spirits. Know that your struggle to escape the oppression of domestic violence elevates the dignity of all women, bringing your entire community closer to the ideals of liberty and justice for all.
You are going to need lots of help and you deserve that help to get you safely free and secure in a peaceful new life, one without violence. Abusive men establish so much control over the victim’s life that very few women leave the relationship without lots and lots of help. Start by listing people who are kind, smart and supportive. Their help can make a huge difference. They can help with child care, accompany you to police, court and appointments, make phone calls to get information, provide transportation, help you deal with the landlord, keep notes, talk to your employer, lend you money and much more.
You have legal rights! Abusive men will lead you to believe that you have no rights and will make you believe he can get you in trouble. You have a right to live without violence and threats, to equal protection of the law, even if in some way you may have broken a law, such as using drugs or driving without a license. You also have rights that are related directly to your escape from domestic violence. As you slowly make your way out of your abusive relationship, you will exercise your rights freely. You will possibly encounter those who do not respect your rights or who are willing to violate your rights. DON’T GIVE UP and do not believe it is your fault. There ARE people and officials in your community who are willing to fight for your rights.
You will feel fear; fear so intense and justified that it can immobilize and keep you from acting on your own behalf. You fear the violence will worsen, fear having no money, fear becoming homeless, fear that the abuser will take the children, fear that the police may side with your abuser or ignore you, putting you in more danger. These fears are very real and the reason many women remain trapped in domestic violence. Leaving is very dangerous without support and protection. All of these fears are well founded.
Too many feel that women should be able to just get up and walk out of domestic violence or that they are exaggerating and being overly fearful. You may even begin to think these things yourself. Remember, you are not crazy or stupid because you feel trapped because of your fear. The dangers of leaving are VERY real.
Two key things should help you deal with your fears. One, women’s rights groups and society have created many effective protections to help deal with every one of the risks. Backup protections can be made along the way should things go wrong. Two, there are kind, supportive people to help you through your escape. Like so many victims of domestic abuse, your partner has kept you very isolated from your friends and family, magnifying your fears. Now is the time to reach out and start talking openly with others.
Look for “Strategies for Breaking Free” next month. Should you need immediate assistance call 911. To contact the Domestic Violence Hotline, call 888-411-1333. Another source is the Wellspring Alliance for Families, 800-716-7233. Feel free to contact me at 318-992-2067 for additional information.