Educating People About Narcissistic Abuse: A Conversation With Randi Fine
Domestic violence and abuse create a complex emotional and psychological syndrome in victims that makes their reality very difficult to accept. Victims believe that if they do and say all the right things, the person who loved and treated them well at the beginning of the relationship will return. When their abusers apologize and promise to be different, their hope that everything will change is reinforced.
Fear is a major factor that keeps victims stuck in abusive relationships. They may fear for their life or the lives of those they care about. They may fear having to survive on their own; where they will live or what they’ll do for money. They may fear losing their children or putting them through the trauma of divorce.
Victims often remain in abusive relationships out of shame. They don’t want anyone to know about the embarrassing situation they’re in. Those who observe particular religions or certain cultures that prohibit divorce may feel compelled to stay and preserve the sanctity of marriage. In some cases, victims grew up surrounded by violence in the home and the abusive relationship seems normal to them.
Domestic violence and abuse affect more than just the victims. Children who witness abuse are victims too; the abuse predisposes them to emotional and social problems throughout their lives. Adult victims, so wrapped up in their own survival, may fail to perceive the risk to others in the home. People are more inclined to seek assistance once they learn that other people they care about are also experiencing difficulties. Speak up if you notice that a family member, especially a child, is being negatively affected.
What occurs behind closed doors is not always known to the public. What we do know is what our observations tell us. Following is a list of domestic abuse and violence warning signs to be aware of:
Disconnected from or unable to engage in social activities with others
Never without a companion
Suffers from a lack of financial stability
Suffers “accidental” injuries on a regular basis
oddly or inappropriately dressed; always with sunglasses on
Frequently absent from work or school
frequently evades opportunities to interact socially.
Obviously worries about being in a relationship
Constantly worried about pleasing the partner, never voices an opinion around the partner, and/or is always agreeing with whatever the partner says and does
Refers to the partner’s hotheadedness, possessiveness, or jealousy
Partner constantly checking in and/or demanding frequent reporting in
Do not wait for the victim to ask for help if you believe that they are a victim of domestic violence or abuse; instead, take action. You may feel as though it is none of your concern, yet your engagement may be the difference between the person’s life and death.
Victims may not want to speak about the abuse or may be in denial about the danger they’re in. They may be remaining in the relationship as a survival tactic. Ask if something is wrong. Let them know that you are concerned about their safety. Give specific examples of what you’ve seen that warrants worry. Tell them that you want to assist them with whatever they’re going through and are there any time they want to chat. Assure them that they can trust you.
Victims of abuse should be encouraged and supported as they go through this. Don’t give advice, judge, pressure, or blame them. Convince them that they are not to blame for their predicament. Be a good listener and affirm their sentiments. Tell them how much you appreciate them and how much they are worth loving and taking care of.
Offer to make calls to social service agencies, attorneys, and safe houses. Provide them with shelter, financial aid, or child care services. Provide transportation so they can get out and get help.
Before the 1970s, until a women’s movement focused a light on the domestic abuse problem and raised public knowledge about it, there was a dearth of understanding and very little aid for victims. Today there are many domestic violence programs in most communities around the country that provide support for women and help them stay safe. These organizations include victim support experts who will assist women in navigating the process, plead their case for them, and help them build a survival strategy, whether or not they want to continue in the relationship.
Since male domestic violence/abuse victims don’t have the same support systems or the abundance of available help that women do, their cases go largely unreported. Many males are ashamed to disclose that they have been attacked by a woman, and unless their injuries are substantial will prefer to simply put up with it. Because society sees men as the aggressor, many men won’t fight back out of fear of being accused as the perpetrator of violence.
In general, law enforcement tends to disregard or diminish the significance of men’s allegations. The legal system frequently sided with women when these instances get to court. Many men report being treated the same way by domestic abuse hotlines. Fortunately, there is an organization called SAFE, “Stop Abuse for Everyone,” that promotes services for all victims and accountability for all perpetrators. Men may also discover the particular aid they need at HelpGuide.Org
Reporting your abuse to the court system may irritate your abuser and put you at greater risk. Discuss your alternatives, like getting a restraining order, with a victim assistance specialist first. Whether or whether you want to report your domestic abuse occurrences it’s a very good idea to preserve any evidence by preserving emails and texts, recordings, and telephone messages. Take images of proof of injuries. To the extent feasible, collect statements from witnesses. You’ll need this documentation if there are any criminal procedures brought by you or against you, or if there is a divorce or child custody hearing.