Lets talk barriers. Barriers to leaving an abusive or violent relationship come in a variety of hues. Every hue as its own shade, tone, and tint. It is these variations that make each barrier personal and the blending of several barriers its own unique illusion. What ever is added to custom blend the deception, the original saturated hue is undeniable.
Recently I was thumbing through a back issue of Marie Clair. I stopped with piqued interest when I saw some haunting black and white photos of Reese Witherspoon. I am always curious about her articles in part because of her work in raising awareness about Domestic Violence. Admittedly she is working more on an international front rather than domestic, which is my focus. Despite this, I am always curious about her perspective on the issue.
In this article she quoted Nora Ephron (one of my favorite writer/directors) as saying, “You know, don’t kid yourself, divorce is really hard on your children. It’s really hard. Children will not be better for it.” Reese wasn’t fully agreeing with it in all contexts, but it did give her pause to think. Let’s pause.
When a woman is trying to justify and rationalize leaving an abusive relationship she is simultaneously looking for any reason to justify and rationalize staying in an abusive/violent relationship. While Ms. Ephron’s comment would be a perfect consideration for a couple that may be lacking in maturity or are letting stress get the better of them, this is completely counterproductive advise for a victim.
This is where disclaimers such as, “except in the event of an abusive or violent relationship” would be helpful. But this takes education. This takes the general public and those whose opinions are sought after, to understand that a few extra words can make all the difference to healing or continuing to be damaged. In the case of divorce…”Children will not be the better for it…” except in the event of an abusive or violent relationship would be the truest statement demanding accountability.
Except in the event of an abusive or violent relationship. I wish victims could hear these words attached to so many of their barriers. As victims we try so hard to solve an abnormal situation with normal anecdotes. It doesn’t work. Instead, as in this case, we wind up further subjecting our children to long term exposure to abuse and violence. How does that make them better?
To help shore up this vulnerability there is a general consensus among our society that no man will truly accept children that aren’t of his blood. Reese illustrates her own experience with this by saying, “You know, somebody close to me once said, ‘Oh, no man will ever accept your children.’ And I just thought it was the most horrifying thing someone has ever said to me in my entire life…” I couldn’t agree more. It has been said to me. I felt the same way. So I stayed a couple of more years longer than I should have in a violent relationship.
My daughters are still battling with self worth at 8 and 10. The road to recovery is going to be a long one and one that won’t be fully realized for years to come as repressed feelings and memories work their way to the surface. After learning how much devastating damage occurs to children exposed to long term abusive and violent relationships I was temporarily wracked with guilt over staying.
As far as I am concerned if a man can’t accept my children or the road I traveled to get here, then there is no room for him in our life anyway. We are an international rainbow of color. Our little family is sprinkled with hues that are rooted in Japan, the Philippines, and Africa. If you’re not a diplomat there is no need to apply. I would rather be a healthy happy family without a husband rather than a unhealthy family malignantly invading the minds of my children with values and concepts that will cripple them long into adulthood. Pass it on.