Posts Tagged ‘domestic abuse’

Fear, Abuse, Excuses

Domestic Abuse - Happening all around us

Two shows this week inspired me; Glee (once again) and Canada’s Got Talent.  On Glee’s Choke the ever amazing and tank-like Coach Beiste revealed that she had been beaten by her husband.  On Canada’s Got Talent, Enigma Dance was performing in the semi-finals.  I was reminded of their audition dance to Sarah MacLachlan’s Stupid about domestic abuse.

The Glee episode especially shows how the abused make excuses for their partner, blame themselves and suffer from extremely low opinions of themselves and abject fear.  When Coach Beiste reveals that she’s afraid of leaving because no one else will ever love her, my heart ripped apart.  I remember that feeling.  I’ve never, thankfully, been physically abused, but I did stay in bad relationships because I thought that was the best I would ever have and didn’t want to be alone.

I use the term “martyr complex” in my workshops and book.  The martyr is someone who puts everyone else first.  Martyr may not seem like a good term for someone who is abused and when you look at it more closely, the symptoms of abuse are the supreme outcome of letting others run your life and not standing up for what you need.  I’m hesitatant to use the same terminology because the word “martyr” can conjur up images of saints and heros that gave their lives for the greater good rather than those who are being downtrodden by a family member or other bully.  For lack of a better term at this time, I’ll stick with what I have.

Martyr Complex symptoms:

  • put the needs of others first
  • make excuses for not taking time for self
  • make excuses for the behavior of others
  • feel stressed and overwhelmed
  • put up with hurtful behavior from others

Sound like anyone you know or maybe even yourself?  Fighting the Martyr Complex is hard enough in every day life.  There are so many expectations of us from our partners, our kids, our work and everyone else around us that it can be a major challenge to look after ourselves with the same care and attention as we give to others.  With domestic abuse, multiply that by about a trillion and a half.

I have no quick or easy answers to dealing with abuse.  No matter where it comes from or in what form, abuse really messes with our psyche.

If you’re in it, be patient with yourself.  You wouldn’t have gotten this far into this post unless you want to get out. It does take time and energy and it is unlikely to happen overnight.

Breaking Free is difficult, and worth it!

  • find someone to talk to – get support
  • start taking the steps you need to break away – find a place to live, save money on the sly – whatever it takes
  • start doing things that make you feel strong and feeds your soul
  • get used to standing up for yourself – speak your mind with people other than your abuser to get practice
  • journal your feelings and what you want – get clear on who you are, what you need and how to get there

If you know someone who is being abused, they need you.  Whether it’s someone being bullied at work, getting emotionally abused by a family member, suffering physical or sexual abuse from any source, it’s up to you to let them know you’re there.

  • be patient – know that it will take time and persistence to get them to confide in you
  • if they come to you, listen and don’t try to solve anything
  • be a sounding board and let them know that you are willing to help them find solutions
  • often the abused think no one else sees it, your acknowledgement of it will help them come out of hiding
  • be persistent – in your patience, you also need to keep at it, even when they resist – let the person know that you are fighting for them, even when they won’t fight for themselves

The journey may take time.  It will be rocky.  It may seem impossible.  It isn’t.  Take inspiration from the hundreds of thousands who have gone before you.  Take on their courage and move forward.  One little step at a time will get out out the door and into the light.  We are here to give you a hand up the hill.  Your responsibility is to take the first step.

You can do it, baby.  You deserve it.  Start now.

Big hugs,