There was quite a winter storm here on Wednesday. My eldest daughter and I went to the mall to see what the sales would be like (it was a little busy) and when we came out again I could hardly see through the blowing gusts of snow. The ride home was tricky as all of the roads hadn't been ploughed and salted but we finally made it. I was so glad to see our driveway! That evening I was content to close the curtains and relax, secure in my cosy home.
There is something very human about needing to feel secure yet just as a snowstorm can restrict your movements, perhaps making you cancel plans, so can Domestic Violence. I may have left the abusive relationship but I still deal with abuse. I need the security of my home, I just have to be careful that I don't rely on it too much and cut myself off from the outside.
One of the reasons that we are so passionate about doing this website is because we know that Domestic Violence isolates. One of the tactics an abuser often uses to gain power and control is to cut a woman off from any supports in her life - friendships are scrutinized and discouraged, people don't get invited to the home as much and family is kept at arms's length. Sometimes the almost unthinkable happens and an abuser manages to convince a woman's family that their daughter/sister/cousin is the one in the wrong. I have seen this happen. I met a woman when I was in the shelter and her whole family was on her husband's side. Nobody stepped in to support her, instead they tried to get her to go back to him, doing their best to shame and embarrass her with harsh words, anything to get her to admit she was the problem. Her husband hit her in front of her own father and he just looked away. This is the stuff that really hurts.
I think that a lot of people think that leaving the abusive relationship is the biggest hurdle and that things get smoother after that. Actually statistics show that a woman is in the most danger at the time of separation. Yes, she has done an incredibly brave thing by leaving but by no means is it the end of the abuse. I really am not trying to be all doom and gloom here. I am attempting to speak truth into a horrible situation. Abuse happens because an abuser sees himself as having rights to his partner, he feels that he owns her; that conviction doesn't end just because she is no longer in the home. At 1 in Four we know what it is like to be on your own but afraid. We know what it is like to scan grocery stores from the outside before going in, to keep an eye on the exits and to pick the shortest line not because you don't like standing but because you want to be able to leave as quickly as possible if the need arises. We know what it is like to always feel 'on alert', to know that you really have no control over what happens outside your own home. This is one of the ways DV isolates: eventually you can't take the stress anymore... it is a lot less frightening to be home than out where you might be threatened.
If you have ever been afraid, you know how precious is is to feel secure. DV isolates but community brings us together. Connecting on this website is just one way that together we can build a strong community to support one another. Thanks for being there.