If you are considering or divorced from a wonderful man who just doesn’t get you or from whom you have grown apart, please don’t bother reading this post. It isn’t for you.
If you are trying to decide if your marriage can be saved with a good dose of therapy or a Dr. Phil wake-up call, you won’t get a thing from this either.
If you believe that it takes two to tango, or that if you change yourself you can change your marriage, or that you can forgive and forget or that any other platitude will save your marriage, you aren’t reading the right blog today.
If you are considering or are divorcing a man who has abused you then you have come to the right place. I understand your journey and I have been there.
I know that you are Googling like crazy to find an answer to the madness you are living and maybe you still have hope that you won’t have to do what you know you must.
I know that most people in your life don’t know that you are sporting a bruise somewhere on your body, or the memories of violence between your man and you. I know that a few of you may be men seeking answers to stop a violent wife, but most of you are women, hopelessly trapped in a marriage that isn’t right and hurts a lot.
You are not alone, or crazy or to blame for the violence that is happening to you. And the sad truth is that it he isn’t likely to stop. The statistics have been studied again and again. Once he uses violence as a way to get what he wants or make himself feel better during a low point in his emotional roller coaster, he is very likely to use it again.
I know you are scared, anxious and confused. Trauma does that to everyone. If you were shocked the first time he attacked you, shocked into a sort of frozen state, then you have been frozen in the trauma and it alone can wreak havoc in your emotional life. You need to get help to process this trauma.
You also need to completely ignore ALL advice that doesn’t apply to a victim of abuse by a partner. Skip past all blogs that hand out advice about divorcing a non-violent spouse, or getting back into the dating game, or how to be friends with your ex. Those words don’t apply to you and worse, will mess with your head.
Stay out of couple’s counseling. You are giving information to an enemy who will use it to hurt you. An excellent, trained therapist in domestic abuse, won’t allow you, the victim of abuse, to sit with your abuser and try to “work it out.” Abusers need individual therapy and you need trauma therapy. Trauma therapy doesn’t try to “fix” you. Specialists in this field give you the space to feel the trauma and grieve.
Don’t hire a lawyer who doesn’t understand well domestic violence. If you have children, this is especially important. You must get the an attorney who can handle the special twists and turns of custody with an abuser. Every state is different, so you need to understand your laws.
And most of all, a good deal of your friends and family won’t understand any of this. Even if they believe you, they will have a very hard time getting their head around the truth that the nice, normal man they knew was an abuser. It is so much easier to believe that something you did caused a high-conflict marriage and therefore there is something you can do to calm it down. They don’t mean to be hurtful, we are just not at a stage in our society where we collectively understand abuse.
We don’t really believe that our men can do such horrible things without being pushed to it somehow, despite years of TV shows about husbands killing wives, high profile dramas like OJ Simpson, Scott Peterson, and Susan Powell, and of course Ray Rice and the mounting statistics that domestic violence is the number one reason for women’s murders.
Some men can and do physically hurt their loved-ones and those men, can look otherwise normal. And if you are in that type of union, you are not the reason they do it. You may have done something that made them mad, but that doesn’t give them the license to hurt you, no matter what.
When you have finally come to the end of the line and decided to leave, it won’t be easy. In fact, it will be harder than you thought. You will loose friends, and question yourself and have court and post divorce challenges that shock you all over again.
But, hang in there. You can do it. You will be happier on the other side. Getting out of the daily trauma of abuse is a great and healthy step. You will have to take more steps after that. So you need to get focused and get in your corner only people who truly have your back. If your friends are confused, that’s understandable, but if they are telling you to find a way to work it out or asking you to explain what happened so they can understand it … well, love them from afar and find people who don’t need convincing.
It sucks, I know. But, getting into recovery from abuse takes a very real science, not art. Find the people who know it, learned it and can truly help you through it. There is a lot at stake, too much to list here.
And start this journey with a simple truth: It isn’t your fault.
Julie Boyd Cole is a mother of two sons, a journalist, writer and business woman. She has written for the Miami Herald, the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel, Yahoo.com, among many publications around the country. Currently, she is the chief executive administrator of a non-profit in North Florida. And Julie is a survivor of domestic violence at the hands of her ex-husband, an NFL sportswriter, and today is an advocate helping other victims sort through the trauma of domestic abuse. Julie also writes for bruisedwoman.com and @bruisedwoman on Twitter about the topic of domestic abuse, co-parenting with an abuser and the emotional damage caused by narcissists and personality disorders.
She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org