“Guilty” is NOT a Life Sentence

guilty not lifeSadistic words spoken to an innocent: “What’s the matter with you?” These are the words that inspire shame and a sense of doubt that I can do anything right. They are the words that taught me: I am guilty.

I feel bad about everything I don’t do perfectly. I feel a sense of responsibility for anyone around my who ever feels upset or scared or wronged. I think I need to fix it for them so that they can feel safe. So that I can feel safe.

Because I am guilty.

It may as well be my name.

hello my name is

And sometimes I think that I’ll never be able to change my name as long as I have to be around people. Because when I am around people, I am guilty. It is my name.

Guilt took root in my soul during a thousand moments of hearing that everything is my fault. That everything that I do is a mistake. That my mistakes are permanent. That the punishment for my mistakes should be taken out on my skin, through my bones and into my soul. Those roots planted themselves so firmly in me that guilt feels like it runs in my veins, rooted like a tree.

roots veinsMy abusers, like all abusers, wanted to make me believe it was all about me. That I was the reason for the problems in the world. That I couldn’t get anything right. And so I would have to get used to never being right. My abusers wanted me to believe that mine was the job of fixing everything so that they could remain comforted that I would always be busy with trying to solve this riddle within myself instead of looking at them and giving them the responsibility for what they do to plant those roots so firmly in me.

I’m tired and angry. I know that a casual gathering with friends should be fun and relaxing instead of an ordeal where I constantly have to tell myself to be calm. To relax. To unclench my jaw. I haven’t done anything wrong. Nobody is mad at me. People have pain. Their pain isn’t my fault.

I’m tired of carrying guilt and fear in my body so strongly that it breaks my teeth.

no

I won’t do it any more. Guilt requires my cooperation and I refuse to cooperate. I desire to live a life free from guilt and full of love. I want to enjoy life, built on the gifts that I can bring forward because of who I am. I want to remember who I am. I can remember:

I am good.

I am beautiful.

I am capable.

I am loveable.

I am free.

My freedom is what grants me permission to uproot that awful tree and pull the roots from my veins.

Today I will commit to myself to identify and dismember every poisonous root.

© Tamara Bess, LMFT 2015 All Rights Reserved. Any use of this article without Tamara’s express written permission is prohibited.

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The Power of “Not Yet”

Do you know what tasty tid bit is perfect for an abusive person to exploit? The perfectionist.

If an abusive person can get their manipulative minds a wrapped ’round a perfectionist, they don’t have to be a genius to keep a hold on them. All that is really required is to hold the fear of failure dangling precariously over their solid heads and they will hold themselves in place. Simply imply, let alone boldly state, that a perfectionist is not “enough”, and they will be the Little Engine That Could until they permanently derail.

Do you feel like judgement of failure looms over your shoulder?

Do you feel like judgement of failure looms over your shoulder?

There is an assumption that this abusive dynamic exists only in romantic relationships but the reality is that it can exist in any relationship. It can be with a boss that says their employee doesn’t work hard enough. The parent that tells the child they don’t try hard enough. The needy friend that says to their BFF they aren’t loyal enough. A worker that says to their co-worker they aren’t supportive enough. A person that tells themselves they aren’t good enough. If there is a relationship, failure to produce enough of anything can be exploited.

The fear of failure can be as debilitating as much as it can be destructive. It can also be a looming specter in the process of healing after the trauma of abuse.

Professor Carol Dweck of Stanford University spoke quite comprehensively on the stunting mindset of failure. For someone who is in the process of changing their thinking or mindset after Domestic Violence or Abuse, changing the thought of failure is one of the biggest hurdles. It is also one of the most limiting mind sets for personal growth. Anyone who has worked with survivors or been a survivor knows that the key to a successful future lies in personal growth.

Dweck’s solution to the failure mind set is the power of “not yet”. “Not yet” leaves a to a path of possibilities that failure does not. Failure is absolute and finite. One has failed at a task. For those of us who define ourselves by finite accomplishments instead of by our ability to cope with change and the courage to work through a process, failure can mean a serious blow to self-esteem and personal growth.

b5a167235994fd64e9d1cb8180d6b899After having listened to Dweck’s talk, something else that can be concluded, is that “not yet” can give a person permission to take their time. Too often we can feel pressured to make decisions and take action prematurely, ignoring our intuition, in an effort not to fail. What if we adopted the “not yet” mindset instead? I am “not yet” ready to answer your question. I am “not yet” ready to take action. Then, after we have checked in with ourselves, take action. If it doesn’t yield the desired results it okay, it is just information. Perhaps we need a little more practice, a little more self-evaluation. Try again.

I think this “not yet” mindset being experimented with in our education system could be a fantastic tool when employed in other areas in our life. It does more to build the self-esteem and self-empowerment through personal permission while acknowledging temporary limitations than the restricting thoughts of failure. There is a saying about failing forward to success. Or, in other words, working through the process until we reach our goal. Which reminds me of another saying, life is about the journey…not the destination.

Live your life…don’t just survive it.

 

Broken In Pieces and Afraid to See

I’m working on the e-book version of my story (planned for February 2015 release) and like anyone who embarks on the serious endeavor of putting their story into words, the writing involves re-living.

Like every survivor, I have lived through moments of choice. The longer a victim stays in an abusive situation, the more familiar she is with these moments. They are those frozen moments of time that cannot be erased, although years pass. They are the moments when, bound between reason and

Frozen In Time by Amanda Ryan

Frozen In Time by Amanda Ryan

incomprehensible emotional pressure to believe in the power of love to overcome, the will to survive gives in to hope against hope. For love. And the choice to stay alters the course of life forever.

I say forever because I am looking at a choice I made at the age of 23. It was a choice that directed my life for the next 13 years. It was a choice whose effects continue to live in me even though time has left that choice far behind me.

As I read over the words that describe the thoughts, feelings and impossible choices I wrestled with as a young woman, I am struck with clarity that can only be offered by looking back with compassionate eyes of my more mature self toward that young woman who I was in the late 1980’s.heart behind bars

I was broken. I tried to navigate the world of love and relationships with only those tools available to someone who had spent her youth and adolescence protecting herself.

I knew nothing of vulnerability except that vulnerability led to disaster. The only way I knew to confront conflict was to avoid it and pretend everything was okay when it wasn’t.

I had come through to young adulthood with a protective shell meant to insure my survival in what I had come to know as a hostile world of close relationships.

But I wasn’t stupid. I realized that when I was confronted with a fear or a shortcoming in myself, that I should do the work to heal that fear or shortcoming. I knew fears were overcome by directly confronting them.

And that’s what I did. I directly confronted my fear of men by finding a man who could use my fear of speaking up for myself to his advantage. If I gave no resistance to anything he said, he would get his way. Indefinitely.

This made me afraid. So I decided that marriage to this man that caused me fear was the cause I would sustain until I overcame my fear. Looking back, I think I should have taken my mom’s advice when I cried on her shoulder after a month of marriage and divorced him.

empty toolboxBut I was so broken. I didn’t have the tools for making a relationship work with a person who didn’t want intimacy with me. Nobody has those tools. Nor did I have the tools for soothing myself through what I thought was personal failure that I associated with divorce. I was stuck. And I stayed stuck for a very long time. All the while, changing and struggling and trying to heal. Without ever moving.

Often, people on the outside looking in ask why a woman stays or why she got into an abusive situation in the first place. The answers to these questions are as deeply personal and individual as any given woman you ask.

Mental health workers, family members and casual observers would like the explanation to be neatly wrapped up in a pretty box. Then the cure can be accurately imposed and the problem resolved.

It ain’t that pretty. Take it from someone who’s been there. The way into an abusive relationship isn’t a garden path. Neither is the exit.

dark path

What is required? Compassion, patience, education.

From whom? The most important person who can give these things to a victim is the victim herself. But first, she must have the tools. She must be aware of her brokenness and be ready to seek answers.

I was broken and so afraid to see it that I pretended I had everything together. With the benefit of 20/20 hindsight I can see there were no other choices available to me. I did the best I could with what I knew.

And so, I continue with the self-confrontation that is the work of laying my life bare on paper. With more compassion toward myself and toward those I serve.

I invite you to listen to Part 4 of my four part series on Healthy vs Addictive Love where I explore how jealousy, anxiety, anger and depression are expressed and managed in both Healthy Love relationships as well as in Addictive Love.

 © Tamara Bess, LMFT 2015 All Rights Reserved. Any use of this article without Tamara’s express written permission is prohibited.

Love Addiction…We Are Socialized For It

Click here to listen and be redirected to corresponding podcast

Click here to listen and be redirected to corresponding podcast

I have mused over the amount of romantic dramas and comedies that saturate our culture.

How could I not want to make acquiring that ultimate love a focus in between my day to day activities?

I have fallen prey to the desire to understand and apply the techniques to earn and hold on to that love we see in the movies, read about in books, and look for among couples in our society. When did this start?

Was it when I was a little girl playing dress up as a bride with my friends? We would practice and fantasize about what our weddings would look like. We would talk about our Prince Charmings. We grew older. With the teenage years came more serious talks of boyfriends, marrying our high school sweethearts, and what “forever” meant. In our early twenties talk seemed to shift to the things we would find in a mate that would correct the errors we saw in our parent’s marriages and the effects those “flaws” had on us. Again, we would cite movies, books, and culture as the template of aspired perfection. My friends and I were consumed by the topic as is our society.

I believe this may have been the fatal path to love addiction.

Crashing from loves "high" is physically painful

Crashing from loves “high” is physically painful

How is love addiction characterized? Psychology Today agrees with almost every other cite I researched in their definition:

“Love addicts go through life with desperate hopes and constant fears. Fearing rejection, pain, unfamiliar experiences, and having little faith in their ability or right to inspire love, they wait and wish for love, perhaps their least familiar real experience…addicts lack the ability to control or postpone sexual feelings and actions, with the need for arousal often replacing the need for intimacy…Addiction is characterized by the repeated, compulsive seeking or use of a substance or activity despite negative social, psychological and/or physical consequences. It is often (but not always) accompanied by physical dependence, withdrawal syndrome and tolerance…(read full article)

As I read over several definitions that were in agreement, I contemplated the vast amount of focus our society puts on love addiction, justifying it as a natural human desire. It is a quest that we all embark on in an effort for intimacy. I was having a difficult time figuring out how something that seemed so unhealthy was being glorified as natural and healthy to the human experience. Have I been in relationships that were based on addictive love instead of healthy love? I feverishly scoured credible sources to discover what the symptoms were.

Fortunately, once again, article after article, opinion and scholarly paper agreed on the symptoms. You may be a love addict if love means:

  • Is all consuming and obsessive
  • Is inhibited
  • Avoids risk or change
  • Lacks true intimacy
  • Is manipulative, strikes deals
  • Is dependent and parasitic
  • Demands the loved one’s devotion

Wow. What a reality check. Even if I wasn’t expressing these symptoms myself, or could be characterized by the definition, I was most definitely a partner in it. I facilitated addicts. I could definitely accept that I was facilitating it. I could also recognize the symptoms in so many movies that encouraged me to believe this is a healthy expression of love. What is the antidote? What is healthy love?

Everything starts with you

Everything starts with you

It starts with me. Before I can partner with someone, I must first be a whole, healthy individual. That should have been my quest to begin with. I believe that should be the focus of more of our media and social conditioning. Healthy love will find a healthy person.

To learn more about healthy love and its characteristics listen to Tamara Bess’ ‘Is It Love Or Something Else’.

Live your life. Don’t just survive it.

http://www.psychologytoday.com/conditions/sex-and-love-addiction

Is it Love or Something Else?

You are overwhelmed by a powerful feeling that you just have to go back to your abusive partner after you’ve gone through all of the difficulty of leaving the relationship. You have allowed enough time after the relationship to start dating again, but you don’t feel love with the same intensity that you felt it for your abusive partner. No matter how you try, you continue to have thoughts of the “good times” and wonder if you’ve actually made a mistake.

I have read posts from victims who have left and have found themselves in one or more of these difficult positions. Most of the time, the powerful feeling that causes a victim to believe she needs to go back is misinterpreted to be love. It may feel so intense and so difficult to overcome that the only explanation that seems possible is love.

There is another possibility . . . . .

It goes back to what attracted you to your abusive partner in the first place and it has everything to do with what was missing from you during childhood that drives your relationship choices today.

One of the characteristics of abusive relationships is that they begin very quickly. Within a very short period of time, a person who wants to get into relationship in order to exert power and control over you will tell you everything you always wanted to hear.

“You complete me.”

“Where have you been all my life?”

“You are so beautiful.”

“You are my princess.”

“You deserve all the best the world can offer.”

“When I look into your eyes, I know we have met before. We are destined to be together.”

The perfect lines come from all of the perfect fairy tales we’ve told ourselves about what “Happily Ever After” would look like.

Staying in the abusive relationship is partly fueled by the everlasting hope that he won’t hurt you again when things are “calm” and the apologies and pretty words he says after he hurts you (during the “Honeymoon Phase”).

After you leave, there is no more hope. You must abandon the wish that things can get better and adjust to the fact that the relationship cannot give you what you had hoped for. You have to abandon hope that he will change. You have to come to terms with the reality that he cannot fix the hurts of your past.

Childhood Pain

Childhood Pain

Like it or not, we all subconsciously choose romantic partners based on our childhood experiences unless we have done the work that it takes to make more healthy choices.

If the relationship created an ongoing cycle of old-familiar hurts, what you are calling “love” is more likely a compulsive need to feel accepted, safe and to belong. These things can never come from outside of you if you didn’t get them in childhood. The work of healing those old pains is yours alone.

When you can see yourself clearly, you will understand that love is kind, gentle, responsive, attentive and nurturing without the drama and intensity that abuse adds to the mix.

To hear more on this topic, click here.

© Tamara Bess, LMFT 2014 All Rights Reserved. Any use of this article without Tamara’s express written permission is prohibited.

Revelations: Something Has Changed…My Thinking

22137-airplane-in-the-sunset-1920x1200-aircraft-wallpaper“…Wow. I want to get where you are. I would have been so embarrassed to come back and face my friends and family after failing…”

Failure? It had never occurred to me to view my return home as a “failure”. It didn’t cross my mind once to be embarrassed telling anyone that we just weren’t ready for the “next step” and it was best for me to come home. I felt no trace of shame. It seemed odd to me that my friend would have even considered this perspective.

Then I remembered.

sisyphusThere was a time I would have taken on the Herculean responsibility of carrying the weight and responsibility of the success or failure of a relationship on my shoulders. This had been my role in my first and second marriage. The role of martyr. I would carry the relationship until my partner was able to be a partner. I would carry it until they were able to “fix” whatever was broken in them. I would be the keystone to hold the relationship and the family together. Whatever was wrong with “us”, I could weather…I was strong enough.

In my violent relationship, it was this acceptance of responsibility that my abuser would exploit. He endeavored to remind me that I didn’t want to fail as I had with my last two marriages, scarring the children, just because I didn’t try hard enough. It worked for a very long time. I did not want to fail my family. I did not want to fail showing enough love, patience, endurance, and sacrifice. I could meet the needs of everyone I loved and cared for until they could find the strength to meet their own needs. In the case of my children, this is appropriate. In the case of my grown adult partner, this was a trap.

intro-119170454-healthy-life-freeway-exit-signOne little concept set me free. “Did it ever occur to you that you did not fail your relationship, but rather your relationship failed you? Did your relationship meet your needs? It takes two people in a relationship, yet I only hear one person taking any responsibility for it.” It took me a while to wrap my head around what was being said, but when I did, it was one of the most liberating moments.

I didn’t fail the relationship, the relationship failed me. It failed to meet my needs within my definition of a relationship. It failed to provide balance, freedom, love, and support of individuality. It failed to provide healthy companionship. No matter how hard I worked, contributed, or tried, I was only one half of the equation that made up the total relationship. I can only control me. I can only assume responsibility for my actions, thoughts, feelings, and response. If the relationship fails it is because it fails to mutually meet the needs of both partners. Partners means two people.

I think there is a misconception that we are to stay in relationship out of obligation, charity, sacrifice, or even altruism. Abusive partners can exploit these characteristics. The moment we forget that, and we allow each other to be bound out of pity (they can not survive without me), obligation (I gave my word), sacrifice (meeting my partners needs are more important than meeting my own), altruism (the needs of the “greater good” are more important than meeting my own) is the moment we leave a relationship vulnerable to failure. It is also when one partner or both can assume more responsibility than is theirs to carry.

There was no embarrassment in choosing to let go of a relationship that wasn’t healthy.  I did not feel like I was coming home to “face” my friends in shame. It never occurred to me. On the contrary, I was proud of myself for giving myself permission to do what was in the best interest of myself and my children. I was proud of taking care of me first, in spite of my love and investment in the relationship.

Live your life, don’t just survive it.

Support: Crushing Debt In The Wake Of Leaving

Two-Ladies-having-lunch-copy“…they’re just so lazy. All they do is just sit there with their hands out for our tax dollars. They won’t get a job, even when they do, they hardly work. Such a drain on society. They are just as capable of earning a living as I am…” says a lady sitting at a table close by.

Casually changing the subject to other grave social matters her friend leans in,”Did you see the new ads for women of Domestic Violence? I don’t know how a woman can stay in a relationship like that. If you’re being beaten, it just makes sense to leave. I don’t understand why they don’t just leave.” The ladies continue their lunch in a popular restaurant, purses dangling from their chairs, without a second thought about their socially conscious cars in the parking lot. They may leave whenever they wish.

As often as I hear conversations like this I never cease to emotionally cringe. Depending on the level of ignorance, I can feel my jaw tighten in quiet rebellion and respect for the difficulty it takes to “just leave.” Most of us aspire to have a roof over our head, be able to make the bills of basic living, have reliable transportation, and if we have children, be able to meet their needs. If we are particularly honest with ourselves, most of us would like to be able to do this comfortably. I have yet to hold a conversations with someone who enjoys being the subject of our welfare systems.

We justify being victims in more than just our homes.

We justify being victims in more than just our homes.

Many of us find ways of justifying emotional and psychological abuse. We shrug of comments made by bosses, co-workers, “friends”, and family members. The same is true of someone who comes home to it in the form of Domestic Abuse. In the same way that we tolerate the boss who blows up every so often with illogical and unreasonable demands, Domestic Violence victims also learn to tolerate the occasional violent outburst of their abuser because often times, that is not the day to day (unless it is an advanced case). In the same way that most people do not want to do or say the “wrong thing” at work so as not to lose their job, let alone quit, a victim of violence and abuse does not want to lose their ability to survive and provide either.

Tereance P. Jefferey recently wrote an article for cnsnews.com statistically reporting the desperate welfare situation in our country based on the last report published by the Census Bureau in 2012. The number of people recorded dependent on state assistance was 109,631,000. This is excluding veteran’s benefits. With resources stretched thin, benefits being less than what they were, who would like to take the first leap into that reality?

The National Network to End Domestic Violence recently featured a superlative example of what victims of financial abuse, within their Domestic Abuse, are facing. Amy Kukec (read her story) found the courage to leave her abusive relationship only to ” hit one debilitating financial roadblock after another.” Her abusive husband overdrew their Chase account ultimately landing her in ChexSystems. That was just the beginning of the downward spiral.

I wonder if either of the two ladies having the earlier conversation has tried to get a bank account while in ChexSystems? How would they feel if they were unable to pay for lunch with a credit card because they could no longer obtain one. Would they be sitting having a nice lunch if they could only obtain a part time minimum wage job as so many employers are cutting hours because they can’t afford benefits?

financial-abuse

Before one casually sits back in the comfort of their own life, looking down their nose at the “parasites” of society and comments, “I don’t understand why they don’t just leave?” consider what one is telling them. Victims that have been financial crushed and crippled by their abuser not only fear for their ability to provide for their basic needs, as well as children if they are present, but they also fear the horrible social stigma of being relegated to a class people known as lazy beggars. They fear being social outcasts. They fear visiting that social sin on their children.

I am hopeful when I see articles as highlighted by NNEDV. If we can identify the obstacles of leaving, if they can be brought to a social awareness, then we can begin to do something about it. Kukec (read about Kukec) is doing her part by starting “a petition on Change.org calling for the bank to overhaul its procedures when dealing with the accounts of victims of domestic violence.” That is they key.

If society would like to see more victims leave abusive and violent relationships, we need to create a system that will support their rehabilitation. Without entities doing their part in the face of such human injustice, to assist in a persons ability in becoming economically viable and independent, they are by default contributing to the problem. Victims will be driven to chose between the “safety” of staying in abuse, or throw themselves at the mercy of a disinterested system that by default re-victimizes the victim.

transparent_background__small_Here is the grave reality. When companies, banks, and organizations hide behind policy in lieu of creating protective policy for victims of domestic abuse and violence, are they really acting in their best interest? If victims can’t get out from under the crushing damage visited on them by an abuser, who can they turn to to survive? State assistance. By helping victims financially rehabilitate we add to the pool of viable and producing citizens. By stubbornly hiding behind disinterest, we only add to an economic crisis, as well as the social stigma of the “lazy beggar”.

Live your life, don’t just survive it.

http://www.channel3000.com/money/stuck-in-cycle-of-debt-domestic-violence-victims-battle-banks/29466648

http://www.cnsnews.com/commentary/terence-p-jeffrey/354-percent-109631000-welfare

Revelations: Who Am I Kidding? They Were Afraid.

girl-under-bedOut of sight, out of mind right? Wrong.

Out of sight only allows for the mind to sharpen the hearing. Oh, and the things my children heard from the other room. I would often try to tell myself that it was just this one argument and they wouldn’t hear it. Or, they would only hear it this one time…except that it happened over and over.

imagesI would feel bad because I considered what it might feel like for them to hear their mother scream and cry, sometimes lose control and shout obscenities at the man that supposedly loved her. I considered that the older two would probably be able to comprehend that my abuser was being unreasonable yet, ultimately, I would do nothing about it. I did not consider how vulnerable all of them might feel because I was powerless which meant they were powerless. We all had to comply to unreasonable “reasoning” and demands. I had to imagine what this might be like for them because I had never actually experienced it myself as a child.

I always thought that I would have a peaceful home, a loving home. I never thought I would have one of “those” homes, I would be a part of one of “those” couples. I thought I was strong enough to weather the storm and create a happy and stable place for my children, especially after dragging them through a divorce. It’s just that the storm didn’t get better. It didn’t level out. The storm only got worse. It didn’t just get worse for me, it got worse for the children as well.

tips-on-helping-children-cope-with-divorceThey learned to keep quiet and navigate the same fragile eggshells I walked on. They learned unreasonable punishment like standing still against a wall for two hours if necessary. My then three year old learned the same discipline my abuser had experienced, three days in bed no books or communication. My abuser figured if he could survive his childhood, they could survive theirs. This sort of “conditioning” would make them strong. I tried to rationalize it as learning to be “tough” so they could handle anything that life threw at them.

Let’s be real. Let’s keep this 100%. I was justifying, excusing, and facilitating child abuse. How can doing the “right thing” be the wrong thing? I felt like I was constantly at odds with myself when trying to answer this question.

I was raised to believe that once one is married one stays married no matter what. Someone might argue that I had already defied that directive two times before. Someone could Old_Bibles-1also legitimately add to that argument by stating that I was not legally married to my abuser. However it was exactly this belief that my abuser preyed on. He would constantly remind me of how I had already failed twice. He would reinforce that failure, with the potential failure for a third time, as we were “married without papers”. He made a point to live as if we were married until he was able to make it legal. It was just paperwork to him. What was important, he would say, is the commitment. Being an overachiever and perfectionist at heart, failure for a third time was unacceptable. No matter how violent and risky the relationship became, I stayed.

The night I left for the fourth and final time. It was brought to my attention by Child Protective Services, that if I didn’t “stay gone”, I would be brought up on charges of child abuse. That spun my reality. How on earth did I become the criminal when I was just trying to “follow the rules”? At that moment how didn’t matter. The reality is, my children were being abused, they were afraid, and I was facilitating it.

monsters-child-abuse-monsters-arent-born-demotivational-poster-1281364660

Everything in me would like to deny it, but the truth is, staying in a violent or abusive relationship with children is child abuse.

 

 

Support: Aspire…It’s Not Over When You Click For Help

 

With the push of a button the abuse ends. The victim is free. A healthy life can begin.

NOPE. NOT EXACTLY.

Before you bust open the champagne, what about the virus? The default program? How many people know about the first 24 to 72hrs of instability.

 

Ladies and gentlemen, friends and family, before you get excited about the advent of the Aspire App, we must first address the virus. The app is genius. It is a much needed and fantastic tool for both victims and their support team. That said, having been a victim, I have some serious concerns.

I am concerned about the virus, the default program hidden deep within the carrier. The carrier is the victim NOT the Aspire App.

stakeholder analysis workHow many of you are aware that after all of the careful planning and success of leaving an abuser, a victim will most likely go back? According to The National Domestic Violence Hotline a victim will leave their abuser seven times before leaving for good. What does this mean for an uninformed general public? Frustration, resentment, discouragement, and indifference can result in what might be perceived as a failed attempt at freeing a victim for a healthier life. Whatever faith a support system had in the Aspire App may be diminished. Again, the problem is not the app.

The problem is the lack of education, support, and local resources. If you are part of a victim’s support team buckle up and be prepared to commit to the long haul. Educate yourself on what you are in for. Is it possible for a victim to leave and stay out of abuse on a first try? Yes. Under our current social conditions and available local resources is probable? No.

I showed a few ex-victims the Dr. Phil clip on the Aspire App. At first they were all enthusiastic. When it got to the part where Dr. Phil talks about being able to access resources available to victims not only did I get a response but, it was the same response. What resources?

educating-togetherCurrently the resources that one links to through the Aspire App are national and limited. There is some education for victims as well but the type of education available is difficult for a victim to relate to at that stage of abuse. It is almost more beneficial to the victim’s support system than the victim. This is not the fault of the Aspire App. This is simply where our resources are at. It is difficult to link to resources that don’t exist or are so obscure that ferreting them out takes tenacity.

The first 24 to 72 hours are the most critical and the most dangerous when a victim leaves an abuser. It is essential that they feel safe, make sense of their new freedom, be educated as to why they wound up in domestic violence in the first place, and local resources to start the rehabilitating process. Without an infusion of these elements right away, the probability of a victim going back to her abuser is painfully high.

Victims are not the only ones that need to be educated. Their support system does too. As the victim’s lifeline to a healthy new beginning, the people in the emergency contact list of the Aspire App should be aware that the App does not fix a victims thinking. Once the victim leaves they are still very vulnerable and susceptible to the influence of their abuser. To minimize the odds of a victim returning, start educating before the time of exodus. Sites like 2bSisters and 2btru2you will help educate both the support teams and the victims about what they are up against. They also contain links to national Domestic Violence help sites for further education.

Good Luck!

We are in the duration with you.

 

 

Support: What Is Missing?

 

Businesswoman standing on a ladder looking through binocularsThe essence of Tamara Bess…that’s what is missing.

It took years for me to admit to myself, let alone anyone else, that I was a victim of Domestic Violence. I know that hitting is not okay, nevertheless, I hoped my abuser would realize this and change. Classic. This is the hope many victims hang on to. I learned this is the wrong approach. In fact, it is this very hope that was keeping me tethered to an abusive relationship.

I scoured the internet for months looking for consistent information that would take away my doubt, tell me definitively, once and for all, to get out. I looked for some outside resource to tell me to leave instead of listening to myself to tell me to leave. I kept looking to everyone and everything else for answers because I didn’t know how to trust my own judgment anymore. My greatest fear was finding the strength to leave and just repeating the same mistake with another person.

In an ocean of scattered information, what was missing? What was the magic answer to healing myself and keep from repeating my pattern?

Listening to Tamara’s maiden post about who she is, what she does, and why she does it was brilliant. It is also what is missing. In a quick twenty minutes she conversationally explores her own experience of having been a victim as well as a therapist. She tells us about her most significant discovery and how that led her to a path of inner healing to break her own cycle…for good. Tamara gives clarity to the dynamic between abusive and victim thinking so that it is easy to recognize no matter how it is packaged. She is gentle when exploring how we can spiritually heal ourselves in the same way our body knows how to heal a cut. Tamara gives us tools, guidance, and understanding. She leads by example.

I learned that the best motivator for leaving an abusivehope relationship is authentic hope for a better life through personal understanding and healing. Many of us realize that even if we do leave, if we don’t learn why we are in the relationship to begin with, we’ll be back, even if it isn’t with the same abuser.

Tamara Bess and her brand of hope is what is missing in all of the information and so called tools floating around cyber space and society. Not just for victims of Domestic Violence and Abuse but, for anyone who finds that their “thinking” is compatible with abusive thinking. Her insight, education, and understanding is the way out and to stay out. I am living proof.

Listen to Tamara’s first podcast.