All too often these days we see someone in the super market, hiding her bruises under long sleeves no matter the weather. Or perhaps she's got on huge sunglasses to cover up a black eye. Maybe you don't see her, maybe you hear her. In your apartment building, your cul de sac, trailer park... Wherever you are, maybe you hear his screams and her cries. Maybe it's not a her but a him. Let's say you don't see bruises, you don't hear the screams- let's say you raise your hand to brush your hair back or wave to a friend and the person you're talking to flinches or cries out. You don't know what she's been through. Don't lecture me about gender either, I know it happens to guys too but I'm a female and this is what I relate to.
Could you live with yourself if you didn't call the police one night and you found out the next morning he had killed her and maybe their children in a fit of rage? I'm not saying to step in- in fact, I don't recommend that at all- you're no good to her (or him) if you get hurt too. There are also things called discovery papers. It's my understanding that if he requests these after an arrest and trial he will receive a copy of every report- including the 911 call. He may be psycho enough to come after you, so just tell the operator you'd rather not give your name. Tell no one, including her, that you called- no one.
It makes me so angry to see these hidden camera videos on television news specials where they fake abuse- domestic violence- in a public place. So many people just walk on by, pretending they don't see or hear anything. What is wrong with the world today?
A lot of the time, she's too afraid to leave. She doesn't know what resources she has to escape. It may be hard for you to understand, but she sees no way out. She only sees fear. "Get a restraining order!" Is what most people say. She knows though, she knows that a piece of paper probably isn't going to stop him. I've never set out to walk through a door and a piece of paper stop me, have you? It's very kind of you to think it will, and sometimes it does- that's why we have laws like that. Other times- he will stop at no end to find her and hurt her, or worse. Divorce works the same way, it's only a way to enrage him.
What if she doesn't have any money? Not everyone can go hide in a motel or rent an apartment somewhere far away. These things are costly and most likely he controls the money. I really hate to say it but I'm going to reference a movie here to explain the mindset of men like this: Sleeping with the Enemy. Watch it and feel bad for suggesting a restraining order. Though, that is a step.
Don't get me wrong, let me clarify my position, just to be sure. Call the police, it's what they're there for. She needs to go to her local court house and file for an EPO, an emergency protection order. If he is the common type of abuser that I've seen he will back off. A lot of abusive men appear to be fine in public, especially around other men. Behind closed doors though, he turns into a monster. I've seen the type a lot. If not, she or he should develop a plan of action to escape. Here are some helpful links on the subject that I have already reviewed.
Helpguide: A non profit resource for battered women this one goes over the signs of abuse, discusses the emotional trauma and effects, and has tips for making an escape plan along with several useful resources
1 800 799 SAFE (7233) is a number for a crisis hot line you can call 24/7 to find a nearby crisis center/shelter, and have someone to talk to.
Stories of other people who already made the escape and how
The Greatest Escape tips and suggestions on planning the initial escape
Leaving Abuse loads of tips, suggestions, articles and resources for an escape and coping.
Find a shelter has lists of local shelters and domestic violence shelters.
Shelter Life this link takes you straight to a page that talks about what shelter life is like.
Organizations this takes you to a page with lists organizations that exist to help people with this.
Here are some of my own tips:
- When making an escape plan, really put thought into where you're going to stay. Do not ever go somewhere he will come to look for you. Try to think of old friends you haven't spoken to in a while, exes and distant relatives.
- If you can not take your pet with you but will not leave it find a trusted friend or family member to care for the pet. Again, try to think of old friends you haven't spoken to in a while, exes and distant relatives.
- Don't leave any plans or evidence of your plans where the abuser can find them, this will only make it harder to get out.
- Again, contact the police.
- If you don't leave your job, change your routine. Take a different route to work, park somewhere inconspicuous and alert your boss(es) of the situation in case he/she calls looking for you or shows up.
- If you have to meet him/her somewhere choose a very public place. Please also keep in mind that with an EPO (emergency protection order) or a DVO (domestic violence order) that if the abused contacts the abuser that is also a violation of the order and is against the law.
- Don't be afraid to use foster care. If you're unable to take your child with you, foster care can be a temporary safe and happy place for your child(ren) where child(ren) will be hard to find.
- Alert all the necessary people. Bosses, daycare workers, school, and future neighbors can really be a great help as well with the ability to call the police if he/she is sighted on or near the property. The sooner the police are called, the sooner they will arrive.
- Please, please remember that verbal abuse can be just as bad as physical abuse.