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Domestic Violence

Overcoming and Confronting an Abuser

08/18/2006

Question:

I finally got the courage to leave my abuser after 22 years (married 20). It wasn`t an easy thing to do even though our children are grown. I am financially strained and barely getting by on what I am making now. Our children live with me and we are approaching the final court hearing for child support and alimony. He will of course argue the alimony part and I am afraid of what will happen after the court hearing. He hasn`t tried to contact me in the 10 months since the separation, but if the court rules in my favor, I am afraid he will. I'm losing sleep over this, barely able to concentrate at work and many times find myself yelling at the kids for little things. I have no family to turn to for support in this country and all my friends slowly left me over the years due to his violent behavior. I am currently in counseling, but my self-esteem seems to be going down more and more.

Essentially my question is, how do I not let him get the last piece of my sanity? I want myself back again whatever little I have left.

Answer:

Well, you certainly seem to have made a number of positive choices in terms of regaining a sense of self and control in your life by removing yourself from an abusive relationship and by seeking counseling intervention. However, you are correct; being on your own can be a very challenging process. Separating yourself from an abusive environment is often difficult, especially if you have been financially dependent on someone else and walk away with little-to-no resources.

It seems as if a significant amount of time is spent on anticipating or projecting into the future what he may or may not do. There are some things over which we have control and many that we cannot control.

Perhaps it would be wise if you spent more time developing a plan in the event that he does approach you – what is it that you need to communicate to him? What are the most effective ways of communicating your needs and wishes? How can you plan for the worst possible scenario? If he contacts you, have a safe plan (i.e. know where you can go and be safe, have names and numbers of those who would be willing to offer support and/or offer you a place to stay or rest?) and be prepared to clearly state your wishes. If he does contact you, what language can you use to communicate your wishes? You are well on the right path to a healthier you – think of ways of empowering yourself – you can chose to remain a victim or to utilize your strengths and become empowered by this process.

There are resources in the community that you can take advantage of. Please consider contacting your local rape crisis and/or abuse center for support. The more you become aware of the resources in your area, the less alone you will feel. You don’t have to be alone in this process of self-recovery. Support awaits you.

For more information:

Go to the Domestic Violence health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Cathy   McDaniels-Wilson, PhD Cathy McDaniels-Wilson, PhD
Adjunct Professor
Department of Sociology
The Ohio State University