Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Want to Help a Battered woman?

Nothing is worse than some well-meaning person saying some unthinking words to a survivor of rape or abuse. It is called secondary abuse and it can be as harmful as the words or event that preciptated it because it comes from someone we love or trust. I know logically why people do it. Because they dont want to look at a "normal" looking woman and think "That could be my wife, sister, mother, daughter! If it could happen to her, my wife, daughter, sister could have it happen to them!" It has to be the victim's fault so that the observer can live with their ignorance and feel that their family is safe. They would never let that sort of thing happen. It had to be your actions or dress or words that caused you to have this happen.

I was asked by a loved one if I hallucinated my rape because the person who did this was a family friend ( a rich one to boot) and he had the nerve to keep calling me at my job and home. My fiance at the time didn't think I was truthful about the assault because I did not jump on the phone and scream at him. I was not ready to do so. But I did eventually say something just to help my fiance feel better. I have realised that did me great harm.
I avoided calls, I finally told someone else and they confronted my rapist who replied " Oh she wanted it" The not being believed was devastating. I know now it was a protection mechanism (now with 12 years of insight and therapy and crap.) It did not stop the pain though. I felt so alone, so out of control of my life. I had proven to myself I did not have good judgement that I would have this happen. Now I began to doubt the event. Maybe I was making a big deal out of it. I was upsetting everyone else. I should just shut up and not make waves. THis is NOT a way of dealing with things IMO. If you are a survivor, get help, there are real caring people out there. Be with people who do not try to "fix " you , but let you make some decisions in your life. It is important to feel like you have some control over something that destroys a sense of self. Be with people who believe you. Acceptance is the most key thing in moving forward in therapy or recovery. And If we deny or minimize what it was, we are asking for later problems. October is DV awareness month. What can you do, you ask?

What to Say (and Not to Say) to a Battered Woman
5 Things to Say to a Victim Reluctant to Leave a Violent Situation
or Returning to a Violent Situation

1.I am afraid for your safety.
2.I am afraid for the safety of your children.
3.It will only get worse.
4.I am here for you when you are ready to leave.
5.You deserve better than this.
Source: Sarah Buel, Materials: Domestic Violence Intervention Services, received at the Prosecuting Batterers Without a Witness Workshop, Tulsa, Okla. (Feb. 1994).

Things to Say (and Not to Say) To a Woman Who's Confided in You
about Domestic Violence, or Who You Suspect is a Victim


1.You seem upset. What's troubling you?
2.I believe you.
3.I wish I could tell you that this is rare. Many other women have experienced this too.
4.I care about your well–being and I'm concerned for your safety.
5.You're a brave person.
6.If you need me, I am here.
7.I won't tell anyone unless you want me to.
8.Tell me about the first time it happened.
9.It's important that you are safe. Do you have a place to go if you need to leave?
10.In 95% of the cases, if he hits you once, he will hit you again.
11.You need more help than I can give you.

1.What did you do to provoke him?
2.Here's what you should do next.
3.Why don't you and your husband get some counseling.
4.Let's bring your husband in to work this out.
5.I can't believe that!
6.If I were you I wouldn't stay a minute longer.
7.Why don't you go home and work this out?
Source: Jewish Women International, Resource Guide on Domestic Violence, reprinted in Your Words Have Weight, Lilith, Winter 1996, at 39.

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