Marilyn knew there was trouble when she walked through the kitchen door. The TV was blaring, the liquor cabinet was wide open, and the unmistakable smell of Marlboro Red Cigarettes filled the space. Ralph was drunk again. Unfortunately, Ralph’s “telltale” drunk behavior would be extreme on this night. Marilyn had been on the receiving end of Ralph’s aggression many times before, but tonight she would brush against death itself.
Marilyn tried to sneak past Ralph, hoping she wouldn’t rouse him from his stupor. “If I can just make it my study,” she told herself as she slinked through the living room. She was unsuccessful. When Ralph heard the footsteps, he rose and immediately berated his wife. Angry that his dinner was not prepared, Ralph grabbed a lamp and threw it in Marilyn’s direction. When the ceramic base of the lamp collided with Marilyn’s face, the resulting explosion cut her deeply. Blood pouring down her face, Marilyn ran through the front door hoping to flag down a passing car. Ralph would have none of it. Summoning unimaginable strength, Ralph pulled his wife down the sidewalk toward the open door of the house. As she whimpered, Marilyn told herself, “I’m not going to make it.” That’s when Ralph tripped on the step leading up to the “landing” of the house. Striking the back of his head as he fell to the grown, Ralph was rendered unconscious. Help would arrive for Marilyn. Barely.
Domestic violence remains a prominent problem in our culture
While the statistics tell us that men are just as likely to be victims of domestic violence as women, we must recognize that men can inflict far more physical damage than many females. Domestic violence is always about power. Using shaming, gas lighting, physical aggression and the like, perpetrators strip their victims of power and hope. Often, victims of domestic violence do not realize that they are in abusive relationship until long after the perpetrator has altered reality for the victim and inflicted substantial pain.
In this piece, we are not trying to dissect the root causes of domestic violence in hopes that we can “nip it” before it begins. Contrarily, we are assuming domestic violence is already a factor in a relationship. If the victim knows they are in a deteriorating relationship, steps can be taken to mitigate future hardship and loss.
If your partner has become abusive, do not try to go through the rough times alone. When dealing with the implications of abuse, it is vitally important for victims to surround themselves with a cocoon of emotional and material support. Reach out to a trusted family member, friend, counselor or physician and explain exactly what is happening in your life. Let this helper (or helpers) know that you may need to reach out to them if your situation becomes dangerous. Have the helpers create a detailed log of the information you provide to them. If the helper sees abuse or suspicious behavior, have them record this information as well.
Create an escape plan
If your partner is unwilling to acknowledge and seek help for his abusive behavior, you must leave the relationship. The situation will not improve strictly on the authority of your good will and strength of character. Inasmuch, you need to create an escape plan now. Stowe extra money for the moment of escape. Have your prescriptions and important documents in a secure location beyond your home. Know – in advance – who you will call and where you will stay when you must evacuate your home. If you have children, your plan must include them too. Do not leave your children behind under any circumstances. Arm yourself if you must.
Notify the authorities about the situation
If an evacuation from your home is imminent, go ahead and let the police know about your trouble and your plan for escape. If you have evidence that substantiates your claim of physical abuse, have the evidence ready to turn over to police. When you are clear from the house, call the police and let them know you are a victim of domestic violence. The police will help you file the appropriate documents with the courts, so that you can have an “order of protection” established on your behalf.
Do not return
If you flee an abusive relationship, do not return home. In a typical cycle of abuse, the perpetrator will attempt to manipulate you so that you will return to the home/relationship. Do not buy it! The honeymoon phase of an abusive relationship always cycles back to the same old pattern of abuse. Leave an abusive partner, and do not blink an eye. Here’s the reality of domestic violence; without psychological intervention, it will escalate. Why put yourself through more?
No one enters a relationship with an assumption that the relationship will end badly. Unfortunately, there are few happy endings when domestic violence takes hold of a relationship. You cannot fix your partner! You cannot curb the violence on your own. Therefore, surround yourself with support, and prepare a plan that will lead you away from chaos and into a more stable, vibrant life. If you feel like you cannot escape the cycle of abuse, enlist as much help as you can muster. You will soon discover that those who know you best already know that you are dealing with a hellish relationship. Trust your instincts, muster your strength, and prepare to regain control of your life.