How you ever felt lost and alone? We all have experienced this at times, but some live constantly in this state. Some are victims of domestic violence, bullying, and/or emotional/verbal abuse. Some keep others at a distance due to an overwhelming fear of rejection, abandonment, commitment, intimacy, and/or being vulnerable. They trust no one and expect to be disappointed or hurt by everyone. They are trapped in their own misery and too afraid to ask for help or acknowledge their pain. Living in emotional and/or physical isolation can be depressing, but venturing out can trigger tremendous fear.
Can you imagine how difficult it is to for a victim of abuse to call for help given the typical feelings of fear, embarrassment, shame, confusion, and anger? Who do I call and will they believe me or suggest that I’m overreacting? What are the repercussions of reporting abuse either to a family, a friend, or law enforcement? The statistics are staggering with 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men having experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime. Studies show that alcohol increases the incidence of abuse. Fear can be incapacitating and prevent appropriate and necessary action. Many of the fears are real, such as losing financial security, living arrangements, possibly friends/family, physical safety, and the ultimate fear, death.
The first step to helping yourself or a loved one is recognizing the signs of an abusive relationship since it can come in many different forms: physical, sexual, verbal and emotional. Educate yourself about the cycle of violence, contact the domestic violence hotline, and have the courage to take action. Making the decision to call the police and press charges if violence occurs in the household can be very difficult, but also necessary. It is also important to have a safety plan that includes identifying shelters/housing options, and seek counseling. Empowerment comes from knowledge/information, resources, emotional support, legal aid, and professional counsel. Attending a local support group and reaching out to friends/family during the crisis can prove to be helpful. Taking a self-defense class, setting goals for yourself, and journaling can give you some confidence and control. Most importantly, trust your instincts/gut and don’t deny negative emotions that are an indication that this situation is unhealthy. It takes courage to acknowledge the pain and heal from it, but the results can be life-changing.