Sanctuary for the Abused
Monday, September 12, 2016
Getting Law Enforcement Authorities & the Police Involved
If you want the nightmare to end, there is a rule of thumb which requires courage and determination to implement:
Report his crimes as soon as you can and make sure you retain a copy of your complaint. Your abuser counts on your fear of him and on your natural propensity to keep domestic problems a secret. Expose him to scrutiny and penalties. This will make him re-consider his actions next time around.
Physical assault is a criminal offence as are rape and, in some countries, stalking and marital rape. If you have been physically or sexually assaulted, go to the nearest hospital and document your injuries. Be sure to obtain copies of the admission form, the medical evaluation report, and of any photographs and exam results (X-rays, computerized tomography-CT, biopsies, and so on).
If your abusive intimate partner verbally threatens you, your nearest and dearest, or your property or pets - this is also criminal conduct. To the best of your ability, get him on tape or make him repeat his threats in the presence of witnesses. Then promptly file a complaint with the police.
If your abuser forces you to remain indoors, in isolation, he is committing an offence. Forced confinement or imprisonment is illegal. While so incarcerated, failing to provide you with vital necessities - such as air, water, medical aid, and food - is yet another criminal act.
Damage to property rendering it inoperative or useless - is mischief. It is punishable by law. Same goes for cruelty to animals (let alone children).
If your partner swindled you out of funds or committed fraud, theft, or perjury (by falsifying your signature on a checking or credit card account, for instance) - report him to the police. Financial abuse is as pernicious as the physical variety.
In most countries, the police must respond to your complaint. They cannot just file it away or suppress it. They must talk to you and to your partner separately and obtain written and signed statements from both parties. The police officer on the scene must inform you of your legal options. The officer in charge must also furnish you with a list of domestic violence shelters and other forms of help available in your community.
If you suspect that a member of your family is being abused, the police, in most countries, can obtain a warrant permitting entry into the premises to inspect the situation. They are also authorized to help the victim relocate (leave) and to assist her in any way, including by applying on her behalf and with her consent to the courts to obtain restraining and emergency protection orders. A breach of either of these orders may be an indictable criminal offence as well as a civil offence.
If you decide to pursue the matter and if there are reasonable grounds to do so, the police will likely lay charges against the offender and accuse your partner of assault. Actually, your consent is only a matter of formality and is not strictly required. The police can charge an offender on the basis of evidence only.
If the team on the scene refuses to lay charges, you have the right to talk to a senior police officer. If you cannot sway them to act, you can lay charges yourself by going to the court house and filing with a Justice of the Peace (JP). The JP must let you lay charges. It is your inalienable right.
You cannot withdraw charges laid by the police and you most probably will be subpoenaed to testify against the abuser.
Sunday, September 11, 2016
Verbal Abuse: Tough on Kids
Whether we help our children develop a compassionate observer that assists them in handling frustration, or an inner critic that distracts them with self-accusation is largely the result of parental messages and modeling. Verbal abuse contributes to the creation of an inner critic that incriminates, rather than encourages a child in times of stress. A negative internal dialogue may cause us to avoid challenges and miss opportunities in life for fear of "failure." Or it can contribute to depression, for even when we achieve we may feel as though it is never enough.
Let's take a simple look at how the inner dialogue might work. For example, a nine-year-old boy is facing a difficult new math problem. Natural frustration arises. If he has experienced his parent's encouragement in times of stress ("You are smart, you can do it"), we might say that he has developed an inner cheerleader that helps him to remain calm and repeat instructions to himself that were taught in class. He is less likely to become distracted by his frustration, and more likely to focus his energy on successful problem solving. The experience of success creates a can do attitude which then reinforces self esteem for the next time new material must be mastered.
But when a child has been the object of repeated name calling, he has more work to do in order to get through to the teaching dialogue. Because he feels frustration, (and because his father resorts to name calling under stress), he may cope with frustration by repeating his father's words to himself -- that he is a "stupid idiot." Harboring this belief may slow down, or block his progress altogether. He may "fall apart" under this stress, similarly to what he sees his father do when frustrated. He may even waste his energies lashing out at others, further delaying his attention to problem-solving. His inner dialogue is flooded with emotional tensions that block development of the skills necessary to succeed, or even ask for help.
In the worst case, a negative inner dialogue leads to failure which reinforces a child's belief that he is, in fact, a "stupid idiot." Believing this becomes easier than working through the emotional tension necessary to address the math problem. Problem solving skills are not learned, resulting in further failures. A negative self-fulfilling prophecy is set in motion.
Abuse of any kind is learned at the hands of our own caretakers. No doubt your partner learned to lash out at his children because he himself bore the brunt of parental frustration. The "cure" that promises to break this cycle is the ability to remember the pain felt by childhood abuse. When an adult identifies with the harm done to him as a child, he is then able to transfer this empathy to his own children.
Ask your husband to recall how his parents handled anger and frustration. Together, identify behaviors which were destructive and those that were constructive. Focus attention on what it might have felt like to be called an "idiot" and what effect it might have had on him. Does he silently berate himself when something goes wrong? Looking back on his childhood experience, does he believe that name-calling helped or hindered him? Did it cause him to think poorly of himself, or keep him from performing or developing skills due to a "short fuse"? And finally, ask him what kind of impact he wants to have on his own children.
Tell him that you want an end to name-calling in the family. But do not stop there! It is your job as a parent to address your partner's blind spots and insist on changes where they are needed.
Your children depend on you to stand up for them.
Monday, September 05, 2016
Then, like a child quieting down after a tantrum, you blink back your tears and begin to look at the world through new ayes. This is you awakening.
You realize it’s time to stop hoping and waiting for something to change, or for happiness, safety and security to magically appear over the next horizon.
You realize that in the real world there aren’t always fairy tale endings, and that any guarantee of “happily ever after” must begin with you…and in the process a sense of peace and calm is born of acceptance.
You awaken to the fact that you are not perfect and that not everyone will always love, appreciate or approve of who or what you are…and that’s OK. They are entitled to their own views and you learn the importance of loving and championing yourself…and in the process a sense of new found confidence is born of self-approval.
You stop complaining and blaming other people for the things they did to you-or didn’t do to you- and learn that the only thing you can really count on is the unexpected.
You learn that people don’t always say what they mean or mean what they say and that not everyone will always be there for you and that everything isn’t always about you.
So, you learn to stand on your own and to take care of yourself. And in the process a sense of safety and security is born of self-reliance. You stop judging and pointing fingers and you begin to accept people as they are and to overlook their shortcomings and human frailties…and in the process a sense of peace and contentment is born of forgiveness.
You learn to open up to new worlds and different points of view. You begin reassessing and redefining who you are and what you really stand for.
You learn the difference between wanting and needing and you begin to discard the doctrines and values you’ve overgrown, or should never have bought into to begin with.
You learn that there is power and glory in creating and contributing and you stop manoeuvring through life as a “consumer” looking for your next fix.
You learn that principles such as honesty and integrity are not the outdated ideals of a bygone era, but the mortar that holds together the foundation upon which you must build a life.
You learn that you don’t know everything, it’s not your job to save the world and that you can’t teach a PIG to sing. You learn that the only cross to bear is one you choose to carry and that martyrs get burned at the stake.
Then you learn about LOVE. You learn to look at relationships as they really are and not as you would have them be. You learn that alone does not mean lonely. You stop trying to control people, situations and outcomes. You learn to distinguish between guilt and responsibility and the importance of setting boundaries and learning to say NO.
You also stop working hard at putting your feelings aside, smoothing things over and ignoring your needs. You learn that your body really is a temple. You begin to care for it and treat it with respect. You begin to eat a balanced diet, drink more water, and take more time to exercise.
You learn that being tired fuels doubts, fear, and uncertainty and so you take more time to rest. And, just as food fuels the body, laughter fuels our soul. So you take more time to laugh and to play. You learn that, for most part, you get in life what you believe you deserve, and that much of life truly is self-fulfilling prophecy.
You learn that anything worth achieving is worth working for and that wishing for something to happen is different than working towards making it happen.
More importantly, you learn that in order to achieve success you need direction, discipline and perseverance. You also learn that no one can do it all alone, and that it’s OK to risk asking for help.
You learn the only thing you must truly fear is fear itself. You learn to step right into and through your fears because you know that whatever happens you can handle it and to give in to fear is to give away the right to live life on your own terms.
You learn that life isn’t always fair, you don’t always get what you think you deserve and that sometimes, bad things happen to unsuspecting, good people… and you learn not to always take it personally. You learn that nobody’s pushing you and everything isn’t always somebody’s fault. It’s just life happening. You learn to admit when you are wrong and to build bridges instead of walls.
You learn that negative feelings such as anger, envy and resentment must be understood and redirected or they will suffocate the life out of you and poison the universe that surrounds you. You learn to be thankful and to take care of many of the simple things we take for granted, things that millions of people upon the earth can only dream about.
Then you begin to take responsibility for yourself by yourself and make yourself a promise to never betray yourself and to never, ever settle for less than your heart’s desire. You make it a point to keep smiling, to keep trusting, and to stay open to every wonderful possibility.
Finally with courage in your heart, you take a stand, you take a deep breath, and you begin to design the life you want to live as best as you can.