Really? What are you-blind? Get out!

Did you ever wonder why people stay in abusive relationships? Did you ever wonder how they could have been so blind in the first place as to get into one? For someone with perspective on the outside of the destruction, it's easy to want to scream at the victim, Really? What are you-blind? Get out! yet abuse victims often fail to recognize they are entrenched in a caustic cycle until they are either ready to see it, or until the abuse is so blatant that they can no longer ignore it.

Think it only happens to welfare recipients or impoverished families? As a survivor of domestic violence, one who spent the better part of her childhood praying my mother wouldn't be murdered by my father, I can tell you the violence crosses many boundaries: including economic lines. I know first-hand, the most dangerous time for a spouse being victimized is during the breakup. Kim Conover, a forty three year old mother of four, including two 21-month-old twins, worked as an elementary school teacher and was murdered by her husband outside the divorce attorney's office. Susan Cox was likely a victim of her husband's selfish abuse and twisted mind. You might recognize the name, Josh Powell, the young father who is believed to have killed his young wife and then, in a planned murder-suicide, killed his two young sons. These families were as middle-class as it gets.

If you were to have passed either of these young, wholesome-looking families as they posed for smiling pictures for Facebook or stood by them in the grocery store, would you have never imagined the horrific futures they would have faced. I can imagine that my path may have crossed victim's unknowingly; perhaps I talked to them as they masked the pain of their daily life with polite banter.

I'm certain that the the once smiling brides and grooms, in love and having children together, could have never imagined such a fate as a violent death or the harsh reality of the struggle for power that comes with abusive relationships. Those looking from the outside may ask,Didn't you see it in them? The truth is, some people are good at masking certain behaviors and some people are not good at recognizing dangerous behaviors until those behaviors become impossible to ignore. Society puts a lot of pressure on the victim to see the truth and do something about it. In truth, they should but why does it take a murder to realize just how dangerous the situation was? What if these victims had support before tragedy? What if they'd had good advice and real help getting out safely?

Yes, it's easy to blame. Keep this in mind when your tempted to do so. Kim Conover was denied a restraining order just before her murder and Susan Cox had a prophetic notion outlined in a note, later found in a safety deposit box, accusing her husband of her murder should it ever happen.

Since most abuse is about control, leaving is the most dangerous time for an abused partner.

Get this straight, I would NEVER say don't leave to a victim-never! Leaving is dangerous, but so is living with an abuser. However, I would never give foolish, vengeful advice to someone who is afraid for their life, likeJust get up the guts and tell him where to stick it. Take everything and get the hell out.In domestic abuse cases, this can be deadly council

I heard an emergency room doctor once say, "When people come in and say they don't want to die, it's because they are dying." Abuse victims feel fear, because they have reason to be afraid.

In education, I see this time and time again; fearful spouses and kids. I remember feeling fear as a child myself; however after many years healing and taking charge of my own life, I began to build up a hard shell. I've felt the frustration of looking into a woman's tear-filled eyes as she described her impossible plight and thinking...Get smart; get out! How easy it is to forget that people may need much help to do that.

For my mother and I, our escape came in the form of several women trained in domestic violence counseling. They risked their own safety to meet us close to our home. We walked, suitcases in hand, to meet them and drive away to freedom. Without those women, we may have not made it. While it took much longer for mindsets to change, we were physically safe at a location that housed us, clothed us, and fed us in secret-away from the danger. Because of those women, my mother was able to keep leaving a secret, gather a small stash of money, and even take a few sentimental items; though not much else. Had those people not intervened, it may have turned out as many new headlines do. This is the memory I hold on to when the hard shell threatens to make me forget how volatile these households often are. 

If you know someone who is fearful of a partner or suspect abuse, reserve the judgement, the dangerous advice, and the temptation to quit on them. Instead, give them a phone number; it could save their life.

National Domestic Violence Hotline

1-800-799-SAFE (7233)

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