When an Abused Person Speaks to You, Listen.

As many of you know, I’m a big advocate for open adoption.   But did you also know that I also am quite active in the areas of domestic violence and child violence as well?   I say this not to toot my own horn, by any means.  I went through some horrible life experiences that to get here.  There were bad choices made, horrible things witnessed, a life of pain turned into a beautiful one by the grace of God–that’s what led me to this place.

I’m a big believer in turning the negative into positive.  It’s more than often the most difficult road to take, but I try to take what I’ve been through to be there for others.  When I say that it helps me as much as it helps them?  I MEAN, IT HELPS ME AS MUCH AS IT HELPS THEM.

I know better than most that it is possible to escape.  I know how hard it is.  Those who have never been in the victim’s shoes often say that they would never “put up with it”, or that “they would leave the second someone laid their hands on me”.  I said that too.  It isn’t as simple as that.  It’s not something that you know until you’ve been there.

I well know the abuser mentality and how they work.  I know from the abused person’s viewpoint how trapped you feel.  It feels like you have no way out.  The abuser has probably cut you off from all of your family and friends…slowly but surely.  Now you have no one else.  That’s what he wanted.  That’s where he wants you.

I was probably one of the strongest minded people you could have met until my ex husband got his hands on me (quite literally).  I went from outspoken, strong, and driven, to being that beaten girl in the corner.  I would have never thought three years prior to him that I’d have eventually ended up in that place.

But I did.  I ended up there for many years.

It took so much strength to get me out of there.   It took strength that I didn’t know I had in me.   This inner strength that I thought was lost.   This strength that I found again through a couple of very supportive people and my belief that God would show me the way.   And how grateful I am that I was able to see it, listen, and leap out with nothing but faith to hold me up.   To my shock, it was enough.

Someone once told me, “As long as you have hope, there is always a way to change things”.  That person never knew the impact that simple sentence had on my life.   I wish I could tell her how many times I’ve replayed those words in my head as I went through the darkest time of my life.  She is no longer with us, but someday?  Someday she will know.  I will wrap my arms around her and tell her that I heard her voice with me forever.

In the midst of my trials, I also had a little boy to consider.   My stepson.  He had lived with us throughout most of his life (he was ten when I left) and I considered him my own.  I loved him as if he were.  I still do.   I thought if I stayed, I could protect him. As long as I was there, he was safe from the control of his father.

I stayed as long as I did because of my love for that little boy.   Not that it was ever his fault for one single second.   Of course it wasn’t.   It’s never the child’s fault.  I had witnessed child abuse in that home and seen it inflicted on that sweet boy.  I was trying to stop the chain by controlling the only thing that I could control—my presence.

Of course…that wasn’t the answer.  It never is the answer.  Getting away from the abuser is always the answer.  I wasn’t able to get my stepson out of that home, as I had no legal right to him.  I WAS able to alert the authorities and to be sure he was protected.  I told everyone that I could tell and did everything I could to ensure his safety.

I speak with him occasionally.  Some emotional issues from his childhood still are there.  He doesn’t talk about them, but I can tell.   I am just thankful that it stopped before it became worse.  Thank goodness those who I told LISTENED. He was safe and secure and was able to become a well-adjusted man.

Not all who commit domestic violence are child abusers.   But the potential is there.  An abuser does it for control, for no other reason.  Typically it’s because they experienced something like that in their childhood as well.

Not that being a victim of abuse ever means that it’s okay to continue the horrible pattern.  It’s something that we all control.  Like anything that is a learned behavior, it can be stopped.   But the abuser needs to want to stop.

We need to pay attention to these kids when they cry out for help.  If a child (or adult for that matter) says he/she is being abused in any way (emotional, physical, sexual), we need to LISTEN.   That ONE time they reach out may be the only time that they ever do. hose that they trust with this information need to DO something.  By listening and trying to help them when they ask for it—that’s how we stop this pattern.

When that pattern becomes the only thing that works, that is what they learn. Not every person that is abused becomes an abuser, but those that are abusers almost ALWAYS have this pattern.  It’s something that we can’t take lightly.

“It just happened once.”

“It will never happen again.”

“He was under so much stress.”

Those all things that the abuser often uses as excuses.   Worse yet, those are the things that friends and family members of the children, the women, and yes, the men in these situations use to make “light” of a situation that should never, EVER be disregarded.  We need to stop supporting the abuser and start supporting the victim.

If you stand by and do nothing, you are as guilty as the person that inflicted the wounds.  Don’t turn a blind eye—ever.  That ONE chance may save someone’s life.  It saved mine.

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