I certainly do not claim to be an expert on Abuse and Domestic Violence. I worked with women and children for nearly a year, trying to plant a seed of Hope.
We cannot simply pluck somebody out of an abusive situation, just because WE know that it is wrong for them to be there. They have to be taught to walk again. They have to be taught to trust in their own judgement when they never have before. All are terrified of retaliation from the abuser if they prosecute him! They know he won't stay in jail forever and they fear for their life. The hardest part is to show them that if they stay with him, they have no chance at all.
There is no one that can be more charming than an abuser! There is no one that can strip you so completely of your self-worth. There is no one that can keep you more destitute or cut off from the world. There is no one that can put on the crying act more effectively, to make you feel like you have wounded them beyond healing. There is not another person that can look into your eyes and tell such wonderful lies, and have you believe them! There is no one that can beg for forgiveness and be more effective with their plea.
Going out in the world alone, is a GIANT step for these women. Many of them have NEVER had to fend for themselves, nor do they think are worthy or smart enough to care for themselves. Most of them have NEVER lived alone. Most of them have suffered abuse for as long as they can remember and they know no other way of life. It was handed to them by their parents, or it was forced upon them by their siblings or other relatives, before they ever met their husband. To them, this is the only pattern of life they know.
The first question asked is always, *Why did he do this to me? I loved him!*
We had a mere 30 days to address that fact, and try to get her strong enough to function by herself. 30 days is not enough to try to turn a persons world inside out, wash it, rinse it, and hang it out to dry with no wrinkles. Dry cleaning doesn't work, it only scratches the surface. We had 30 days to be a role-model. We had 30 days to show them that there is more to life than being dependent on another person. We had 30 days to show them the talents they had tucked away, because of ridicule. We had 30 days to impress how important it is to have the help of a divine presence of their choice who would guide them, and protect them. We had 30 days to earn their trust without them becoming dependent on us. We had 30 days to show them that love doesn't, and shouldn't hurt. We had 30 days to be their best friend and peer counselor only to have to sever that relationship at the end, with no intentional contact after they left the shelter. We have a life-time of wondering how effective we were.
Once in a great while, we will see one of our clients in a store or other public place. It is a real reward to see that former client smiling, beaming, and doing very well. The hugs, thank yous, and words of apperciation, and their achievement has satisfied the hunger to know. But, there are so many we never see again, and that leaves much to wonder about. Some go back to their abuser. Where did we fail? Maybe we didn't! Maybe that the time spent with us has planted a seed that will one day bloom into a new world for that person. Maybe it just took more than 30 days to germinate?
You can take somebody out of the woods and put them on a path to safety, but if you don't guide them on that path they will more than likely go in circles. People without the insight of direction are easily confused and eventually lost, no matter which direction we point them in. They go down the path a little way, then they begin to doubt their own judgement and many times end up where they started from!
This is a VERY personal subject with me. I can only pray that Spirit will keep the seeds of Hope growing. It took me many, many years to confront my abuse and to be able to bury it. It took more than 30 days! More like 55 years!
When you see a woman return to her abuser, please don't judge her too harshly. She is more afraid of the world than she is of the abuse she has suffered. She knows what she has to deal with at home, but she has no idea how to deal with the things of the world. She has been cut off from the world and brainwashed into thinking that everything in it is much worse and more threatening than anything she is suffering at the hands of her abuser.
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