Many years ago as a young volunteer in a battered wives shelter in Jerusalem (unfortunately domestic violence is no stranger in the Holy City) The women would arrive with horrendous bruises, most had been sexually abused and all had been psychologically battered. I was astounded how these women felt guilty for leaving their husbands and found a safe place away from the abuse. I would ask why they felt guilty and their answer was usually “because he loves me”!!
No matter how many times they were told that a man doesn’t beat his wife black and blue if he loves her, it made no difference. These women would only focus on the odd small, kindnesses and nice words shown to them by her abuser.
The following are some of the symptoms of Battered Wife Syndrome: The new terminology is now: Battered Person Syndrome (BPS) Seems women beat up their husbands too.
When Battered Person Syndrome (BPS) manifests as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) it consists of the following symptoms: (a) re-experiencing the battering as if it were recurring even when it is not, (b) attempts to avoid the psychological impact of battering by avoiding activities, people, and emotions, (c) hyperarousal or hypervigilance, (d) disrupted interpersonal relationships, (e) body image distortion or other somatic concerns, and (f) sexuality and intimacy issues.
- The abused thinks that the violence was his or her fault.
- The abused has an inability to place the responsibility for the violence elsewhere.
- The abused fears for his/her life and/or the lives of his/her children (if present).
- The abused has an irrational belief that the abuser is omnipresent and omniscient.
Due to constant and severe domestic violence sometimes involving physical abuse by a partner, the abused becomes depressed and/or unable to take any independent action that would allow him or her to escape the abuse. The condition explains why abused people may not seek assistance from others, fight their abuser, or leave the abusive situation. Sufferers may have low self-esteem, and are often led to believe that the abuse is their fault. The abused person may feel so much gratitude to her abuser when a small amount of kindness is shown.
Most of us who are going through or have gone through divorce may not have gone through such terrible, physically abusive marriages, but many women have suffered a mental battering, leaving us with feelings of guilt, low self-esteem, depression, and confusion.
It doesn’t matter if we’ve arrived at a battered woman’s shelter or we’re left to pick up the pieces of our broken lives, it’s a matter of stepping out of our comfort zone. It sometimes just feels more comfortable staying in familiar circumstances, no matter how bad, than escaping to an unknown future. If we take this step of leaving everything that is familiar, life is, from here on in going to be very different.
Stepping out of your comfort zone is difficult, but there are people who can and will help you. Please understand, there is no shame in asking for help. Coming out of an abusive marriage to find safety for you and your children is your first priority. You have to protect your children. Believe me they will thank you for it later.
- They will feel that at last they are being protected by you.
- Children need to feel safe.
- They will have more respect for you.
- You will be showing them, that what their Father does is not Okay and it is NOT OKAY.
Having read these concerns about your children, at least start to consider that you have to make a decision. That is if you or your kids are not in physical danger.
If you are in physical danger, especially if there is drug or alcohol abuse involved, call the police or call the number of any hot line in your area and they will be able to put you in contact with the right people to help you.
Here are some considerations once you’ve made the decision.
- If you’re escaping an abusive addict or alcoholic, if necessary call the police and through the court you can get a restraining order so that he is not allowed near you, your kids, or your house.
- Seek out supportive friends, relatives and/or support group.
- Can they offer you a place to stay for a while if need be?
- If you have access to money, put some into your own account, if you don’t have one, start one.
- Try to put into the account enough for three months rent and utilities, kids, travel etc, at least, if you have it.
- If you’re working try to save some money.
- If you haven’t worked whilst you were married get any job you can, even if you feel you’re over qualified for it.
- Keep thinking about what is right for you and your kids.
- Get help with a counselor or therapist to help with any denial, self-esteem/co-dependency issues. Don’t feel bad we all have those issues.
- Coming out of our comfort zone means taking a leap of Faith!
- If you have a Higher Power pray for help, clarity, courage and strength.
- There will be good days and not so good days. It’s just a day!
- Take each day as it comes trying to accept your new reality
- Sometimes your new reality might seem unfair and it sucks.
- Try to accept that you are stepping into a new life. You will become the owner of your new life, sometimes it’s lonely, sometimes very challenging, but I found most of all that it was my chance to grow into the person I was meant to become and all that it involves.
- I personally feel as a Mother I owed it to my kids, so that the cycle of dysfunctional behaviors would come to an end once and for all.
- We all have the power to become who we are meant to be and only we can stop ourselves, by staying where it’s comfortable.
This is the serenity prayer which has become famous through 12 step programs. It’s a very powerful prayer and has helped thousands of people.
God grant me the serenity to accept the things, I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can
and the wisdom to know the difference.