For National Domestic Violence Awareness Month I shared this post from my experiences in surviving abuse and some lessons I learned.
After I began to learn to protect myself energetically, mentally and emotionally during the later years of my marriage I began to understand the very fact and degree that I had been abused. Realizing that I had denied it far too long, was a big step toward recovery.
Another vitally important step is to get counseling. You may be able to recover if you are self aware enough and willing to change on your on but it will take much longer. I know, because that’s what I did and still have flashbacks on rare occasions eleven years after his death.
If you have children, please do not hesitate to get them and yourself counseling. A thorough recovery can last years without help and may be that long even with help, depending on a lot of factors! But your children may become teenagers within that time and will be having their own problems from witnessing and hearing the abuse.
Children may bear an unbelievable amount of guilt for not rescuing their mother or father, depending on who is being abused. They also may see their abusive parent as the strong one and learn that behavior pattern in self defence for the outside world.
Remember also that children see scary things between their parents and may even fear for their parent’s safety. Reassuring them that Daddy or Mommy are just upset will not lessen the fears they can think up. They should not have to bear that kind of burden alone. Speaking to a school counselor may be a good first step for the children.
To recover I had to do some work to build up my confidence and protection skills. I would even say a major defense to the residual ill effects of abuse is to learn to love yourself and protect yourself from invasions into your self worth, self love, self confidence, and positivity.
If we feel strong and learn our strengths, we can learn to summon courage when needed in future encounters with other abusive or narcissistic people. Learning these principles over time helped me be more confident, positive, and vigilant about my feelings fear and anger in my marriage as my husband became more frequently emotionally and mentally abusive.
I finally realized after reading “Women Who Run With Wolves” that I am stronger and wiser than I ever imagined. It did take time to learn how to call on these beliefs when I needed them. But they did begin to make a difference.
Feeling weak, insecure, helpless, and out of control of your life gives you a victim mentality, whether it’s a victim to abuse or negative energy. It took time to build up my strength and I still have weak moments 11 years later.
Another bit of understanding came from the above book. If I were my child would I allow this treatment to her? The answer, no, should then be applied to myself! I am important too.
One thing I found recently that I helped in situations where there is a dominant person that made me feel intimidated was the Wonder Woman Pose. It has been studied at Harvard and found that a strong posture makes physical changes in a matter of minutes. Read the article and try it. I did.
Then there are the feelings of guilt for not protecting yourself or your child(ren) well enough during the outbursts of your spouse. In my case my parents argued harshly only twice that I can remember! I was totally unprepared for this kind of interaction. Unfortunately (or not) I had Stockholm Syndrome, which definitely clouded things in my mind.
It is what happens when a hostage ingratiates themselves to their captor to maintain the good favor of their captors. I also wanted the peace that my parents had in their marriage. So I submitted, as some believe is the wife’s position in life. I wanted a peaceful home. But I didn’t realize the price of my choice.
Having been raised with guilt and spankings, (not that spankings are all bad) when I didn’t obey my parents and my own guilt when I failed to make a good grade on a test or homework I easily slipped into the guilt mindset. Couple this guilt with increasing low self esteem from the mental abuse from my husband and I was in a fine mess!! I also failed to protect my son emotionally. I thought he was safe because I thought his father’s anger was aimed only at me, so he would be okay. I was wrong!
I don’t know about an abusive mother but I suspect there could be the same, similar or worse responses. Since children can behave in different ways depending on who they identify with, their age, and so many other factors, there are many possible responses to the marital abuse.
The children, according to “The Effects of Relationship Abuse on Children” in an article on Bethesda House website are affected in a variety of ways. They may become abusive, fearful, anxious, have trouble concentrating in class; girls may become victim minded themselves, boys may be come aggressive and have anger issues or become victimized by others.
Being a positive person with a strong faith I thought I would be alright and could balance things out so my son would not be affected. For years I blamed myself after I realized what was going on with my husband. When I saw the effects of the abuse on me and later on my son, I felt I was a failure as a mother.
Fortunately I had friends who would let me vent and tell them what had happened and how I felt. These friends were a godsend! Each of the closest friends told me not just once but frequently, “You did the best you knew how. You were a victm too!”
Finally and thankfully these loving women broke through the guilt and shame. Understanding that I had Stockholm Syndrome was also a very helpful bit of knowledge that helped lift the weights from my back, heart, and mind. I did do the best I knew how.
Finally I realized again that I was important, that since his death and before, I was strong and wise and a woman full of love who just wanted to be loved, have a happy, peaceful, marriage and be a good mother and wife.