Being a domestic violence survivor is a part of a person's past just as much as how they are raised. It is a part of them, but it does not define them. Here are a few things that a domestic violence survivor wants you to know but might not want to tell you:
1. The abuse was real.
Domestic violence survivors are often judged. They are judged for not leaving soon enough. They are judged for telling the truth. A person who has been in an abusive situation when they finally chose to tell the truth does not exaggerate. It is hard enough to tell the truth about what they went through, they do not want to add details. It is embarrassing to admit you were a victim.
2. The love was real.
A normal person falls in love and trusts that the person they love, loves them back. Putting our trust into one person is how we live our lives. It is hard to give up on a person that you have promised to love for the rest of your life, no matter how bad it may seem.
3. Leaving is much harder than it seems.
Threats of the physical and verbal kind are made to a woman to keep her in the house. It can range from physical attacks to having the children kept from her. Most often women in domestic violence situations have been isolated. They do not have anyone to turn to. There is nowhere for them to go.
4. They are aware of their mistakes.
The amount of times people bring up the fact that they made a mistake in the past is overwhelming. The mistakes of the past are in the past. There may be children, which are not a mistake. No matter how bad the past was, it was a part of their lives and it cannot be changed. When you tell someone the way they spent 5-10 years was a mistake it can alienate them.
5. Forgiveness does not mean they'll forget.
A person can forgive the abuser, but it does not mean they have forgotten. It doesn't mean they should accept them back into their life either. When a person says they have forgiven their ex, it is not about their ex. The act of forgiveness is about healing for yourself.
Each domestic violence survivor has their own story to tell. It is different for each person. The one thing each person has in common is they have survived and they have gotten out. They may not be ready to tell their story. They may still be healing, but in time they will get there. Until they do, remember they know where they have been and they don't want to look back.
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, call the Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE.
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