Since the debacle involving Ray Rice, Commissioner Goodell and the NFL, the numbers of calls related to domestic violence have gone up. In Los Angeles, the calls have increased 18%, with the calls in specific areas of Los Angeles going up 30%.
I don’t think there is more domestic violence occurring. I believe the recent publicity and the outcry of women and advocacy groups saying “This is NOT okay!!!” has led to women taking courage and picking up the phone where they may not have before. That’s good news.
And while I believe that raising awareness about Domestic Violence is very, very important I also believe that it is only the first step.
I don’t believe enough people are saying this: It is VERY dangerous to leave your abuser. One out of every 3 homicide victims were killed by their intimate partners. According to this article, 74 percent of all murder-suicides involved an intimate partner (spouse, common-law spouse, ex-spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend). Of these, 96 percent were women killed by their intimate partners.
The most dangerous time for you is during the time you are trying to make your escape and after you have escaped. The severity of danger dramatically increases when you choose to go.
With that in mind, I think there is something very important for you to consider. Everyone who works with victims of domestic violence knows that there are good times with your abuser and not-so-good times. We know that when things are not as bad, you see the things you value in him. You love him. You want to see the best in him.
And, when things are bad – you keep trying although you can’t quite figure out what you are doing wrong – even though he tells you the reason he hurts you is your fault.
Please, consider this: Stop trying to convince him or hope he will change. And PLEASE DON’T use leaving as an attempt to “teach him a lesson.” I have seen women who go into shelters believing that their absence would make their boyfriends or husbands sorry and make them realize how much they would hate living without them. Unfortunately, this strategy never works. It only fuels the aggressive fire.
Sure, he will say he is sorry. He will promise never to hurt you again. Until he has you right in the palms of his hands and he decides it’s just the right time to punish you for trying to escape the personal hell he creates for you with his abusive and violent behavior.
It has happened many times before and no matter how many different ways you try to get him to change, you will not be successful. You can’t change him.
You can only change you.
This is so important for you to realize as you reach out to the Domestic Violence Hotline or to your Local Police (who can also help you find shelter). Many women are not prepared for the tidal wave of emotion that hits them once they are behind the safe and secure walls of a domestic violence shelter.
The real work begins after you get out. This is when the hooks of emotional and mental abuse, manipulation and control that he placed long before he ever caused you any physical harm will challenge your will, strength and resolve.
If you really want to get out and you think you are ready, realize that this is when the hardest work begins. This is the time to start focusing on your own needs and those of your children. Before you make the call, commit to doing the work it takes to make permanent change.
The call to the Hotline is only the beginning.
To learn more about the emotional experience of leaving your abuser so that you can prepare yourself as you plan your exit, click here.
© Tamara Bess, LMFT 2014 All Rights Reserved. Any use of this article without Tamara’s express written permission is prohibited.