We owe it to ourselves to know what resources are available in our areas.
|One in Three or One in Four?
by Marilyn Mackenzie
Internet research provides two differing sets of statistics about the abuse of women. Some web sites claim that one-third of all women worldwide will experience some kind of abuse. Others say the number is only one-fourth of all women. Only? Either of those numbers should make you angry!
No matter where you live, because these statistics are real (just not quite in agreement), you owe it to yourself or to your friends and loved ones to know what resources are available in your area.
As one who has experienced psychological, physical, emotional and financial abuse, I can tell you that being prepared in advance would have been helpful.
In my case, I ended up in an abuse shelter in the city where I resided. My abuser was not in the same state, though, so immediately I became a lower risk than others in the opinion of the shelter leaders. (They were wrong. My abuser traveled three days to get to the city where I had fled.)
At the time I had not yet been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, chronic pain or chronic fatigue. My medical files did show, though, that I had a back injury in 1997, a car accident and neck injury in 2000, and a knee injury and surgery in 2001. I was receiving no income when I arrived at the shelter.
This particular women’s abuse shelter had very strict rules. Each woman who arrived had only 30 days in which to find a job or other income and a place to live. The shelter worked with other non-profits to help women with things like deposits and furnishings. But the 30 day rule was never changed.
I didn’t really know how strict that rule was when I arrived. It wasn’t until the last day of my 30 days that I found out how serious they were about it. Before that, my particular counselor thought that since I was actively seeking work, disability assistance, medical assistance, etc. that there would be an exception made. There was not, and on December 15, I was told to pack my bags, even though that was the scheduled day for the annual Christmas party for whatever residents were there. And even though the night before I had been in the emergency room with an injured foot. My counselor handed me a Christmas gift and said she was sorry as I left.
When I asked where I should go, none of the counselors had good answers. One suggested the regular homeless shelter in town. There I could have three days of shelter, and would have been back on the street. Fortunately, I did find somewhere else to go.
This message is not meant to scare women into not seeking shelter. Instead, it is a wake-up call to all women to find out about what shelters are available in their areas.
I wish I had known that there was another shelter just 20 miles away from the town where I lived. That shelter had an excellent program. Women were allowed to spend 60 days in the shelter, or longer if they were showing progress in finding other help.
Additionally, this other shelter had transitional housing opportunities available. Women who were actively trying to help themselves and who had not found or could not find permanent housing after 30 to 60 days were allowed to move to transitional housing, operated by the same organization. They also had a network of other non-profits that would help gather furnishings, linens, etc. They offered long-distance calling cards, bus passes for public transportation, and many other services.
The shelter that I found out about months after I was kicked out of the first one was certainly where I should have gone in the first place. They provided assistance in numerous ways, and if a woman needed help in ways that they had not considered, they found ways to provide it.
Staying in an abusive situation should never be an option. Going to any abuse shelter is better than staying. But since we know that between 25% and 33% of all women will be abused, shouldn’t we be armed with knowledge of what services are available in our areas, what shelters are available and how they differ in their programs? Someone will need that information. It could be our neighbor, our friend, or our relative. Or we could be the one in need.
Here is the URL and phone number for the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Please know that even if you have not been physically abused, if you have been belittled, emotionally abused, financially abused, told that are worthless, or any other of the many ways that abuse occurs, you should get help. Most abusers start out by emotionally and psychologically abusing, then escalate to physical abuse. Once the line has been crossed, physical abuse does continue, even when the abuser acts remorseful, unless the abuser gets help for anger issues. http://www.ndvh.org/ 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) 1-800-787-3224 (TTY)
At the very least, keep these and any local numbers available where you can find them for yourself or for friends, neighbors, family. Even better, find out exactly what help is available locally, so that you can be prepared. Someone you know will be abused at some time, based on today's statistics.
Note: I acknowledge that abuse also occurs where the man is abused and the woman is the abuser. No one deserves to be abused. Everyone deserves to be respected. Get help!
The best time to get out of an abusive relationship is early in the relationship. Some of the easiest things to look for: name calling, ordering, undermining. (That from a number of sources.)
Here's a site that lists some of the signs to look for in an abuser. Your partner might be an abuser if: http://www.srhs.org/clinical/dv_your_partner.asp
This site has lots of information. About battered woman's syndrome:
Information about physical, emotional, sexual, financial abuse:
A quote from this site: Domestic Violence is not a one-time event or an isolated incident. Battering is a pattern, a reign of force and terror. Once violence begins in a relationship, it gets worse and more frequent over a period of time. Battering is not just one physical attack. It is a number of tactics (intimidation, threats, economic deprivation, psychological and sexual abuse) used repeatedly. Physical violence is one of those tactics. Experts have compared methods used by batterers to those used by terrorists to brainwash hostages. This is called the "Stockholm Syndrome".(That does explain how/why women say "he didn't mean it" and keep going back for more.)
Resources in the United States:
Resources outside the U.S.:
Resources for men who are abused:
Why does the victim stay?
Now some added comments from another forum. These are my comments only, so I'm not sharing anything I shouldn't.
I discovered something while I was in the shelter. Michigan has a law - and from what I understand others do as well - that says if a woman allows her children to see her being abused (and emotional abuse counts as much as physical), the state has the right to take the kids away from both parents. Why? Because by staying in an abusive relationship, and allowing her kids to witness or experience that, the woman is part of the problem. She is allowing her kids to have a dysfunctional experience about what is proper behavior. I'm betting most mothers don't realize that they can be blamed for allowing her kids to see or hear her being abused.
Hey fellas - the ones who are reading and who are the good guys (not abusers) - you could make a point of having this information tucked away somewhere too. It could be someone close to you who is abused - mother, aunt, sister, cousin, friend.
No, abuse is not just something men do to women. I was about 25 when I learned that a man who worked with my boyfriend was being abused by his wife. He was a tall, skinny fellow and she was short and stout. One night, she was so mad at him that she waited until he was sound asleep, then pounced on his chest, with her knees breaking his ribs. He would not report her because 1) he was afraid of her and 2) he feared being teased by other men for being so weak.
Shouldn't we be teaching this in schools? If we can teach about sex education, why not about abuse and abusers? I know my son has chatted with some old friends from TX and discovered girls he knew there in abusive situations as high school and college students. That's sad, and it should be avoidable...with education.
We need to TELL the stories. People need to know that this happens to all kinds of women!
When I was in the shelter in Michigan, I got some good counseling. That's one thing that I needed to try to make sure I didn't choose the same kind of man again, without realizing it.
During our group counseling, they gave us some history of spouse abuse. The stats don't go back very far, because years ago it was perfectly legal for the husband to hit his wife if she wasn't "behaving properly" because she was an extension of him, his property.
I have it in my notes somewhere, but I think the law in Michigan changed later than other states - perhaps 1980? It must have been, because when I divorced my first husband in 1978, I was charged with abandonment and he got everything. The only things I maintained the rights to keep were my clothes and some china from my grandmother. My new friends in Houston told me to fight, but I just wanted out.