Domestic abuse is one of the most serious epidemics modern society faces today. With 1/3 of all women reporting incidences of violence in the home and/or in intimate relationships (this does not reflect the numbers that go unreported nor those of men being abused), no socio-economic group, nationality, gender or age is exempt from experiencing some form of cruelty in their relationships. Every day, in the US alone, three women (and one man) are murdered by their abusive partners.
Domestic abuse is not limited to physical violence either. It can be verbal, psychological, sexual, emotional, financial, or destructive (damaging personal property as a form of manipulation). Nor is it exclusive to husband/wife or boyfriend/girlfriend partnerships. It can appear between elderly parent/adult child, sibling upon sibling, roommates or any other individuals who cohabitate. The immediate and long-term effects can be devastating on a physical, emotional, familial, and economic level. Children, the most innocent of those involved, can suffer emotional, cognitive, behavioral, and developmental impairments that last well into adulthood. Young boys exposed to domestic abuse are two times more likely to become abusers later on in life. The cycle must be broken.
While there are legitimate fears that prevent women from leaving their abusers (fear for her own safety or the safety of the children, lack of financial resources, no place to go, lack of familial support, etc.) it is possible to do so with the help of trained professionals. In my 15 years as a trainer at a battered women's shelter, I witnessed the courage of thousands of women who fled their horrendous living conditions and rebuilt productive lives for themselves and their children.
Here are some tips for those ready to leave:
1. Contact your local police department, social service agency, and/or domestic violence shelter to create an escape plan.
2. Gather all important documents such as birth certificates, bank accounts, credit cards, marriage certificate, etc.
3. Begin stashing money for your escape.
4. Keep a bag packed and hidden.
5. Make an extra set of house and car keys.
6. Keep documented records and photos of all incidences of abuse.
7. Make certain to have your cell phone, charger, and all important phone numbers with you .
When the time comes for you to make a speedy exit, you will be well prepared.
As a friend or support system, there is much you can do to enable your loved one's safely and success:
1. Encourage her to seek professional help for her relationship if she wants to preserve it and there is no eminent danger to her or her children. If there is, encourage her to seek safe shelter elsewhere.
2. Stay connected to her. Those being abused are often isolated from family and friends. She/he needs all the support they can get.
3. Be understanding but firm. Don't allow her to simply complain about her current circumstances. Expect her to take affirmative action.
4. Offer not only support, encouragement, and suggestions but resources. Do some research. Find places, organizations, and people who can help her. Provide those names and number to her.
Anyone can move on from domestic violence. They can rebuild their lives, heal their emotional wounds, and be stronger as a result. I did. So have millions of others. Don't be a statistic. Take a stand. Face your fears. Let go and move on. You deserve an amazing life but only you can create it.
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Janet Pfeiffer, international inspirational speaker and award-winning author has appeared on CNN, Lifetime, ABC News, The 700 Club, NBC News, Fox News, The Harvest Show, Celebration, TruTV and many others. She’s been a guest on over 100 top radio shows (including Fox News Radio), is a contributor to Ebru Today TV and hosts her own radio show, Anger 911, on www.Anger911.net.
Janet's spoken at the United Nations, Notre Dame University, was a keynote speaker for the YWCA National Week Without Violence Campaign, and is a past board member for the World Addiction Foundation.
She's a former columnist for the Daily Record and contributing writer to Woman’s World Magazine, Living Solo, Prime Woman Magazine, and N.J. Family. Her name has appeared in print more than 100 million times, including The Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, Alaska Business Monthly and more than 50 other publications.
A consultant to corporations including AT&T, U.S. Army, U.S. Postal Service, and Hoffman-LaRoche, Janet is N.J. State certified in domestic violence, an instructor at a battered women's shelter, and founder of The Antidote to Anger Group. She specializes in healing anger and conflict and creating inner peace and writes a weekly blog and bi-monthly newsletter.
Janet has authored 8 books, including the highly acclaimed The Secret Side of Anger (endorsed by NY Times bestselling author, Dr. Bernie Siegel).
Read what Marci Shimoff, New York Times bestselling author, says of Janet's latest book, The Great Truth; Shattering Life's Most Insidious Lies That Sabotage Your Happiness Along With the Revelation of Life's Sole Purpose:
"Janet dispels the lies and misconceptions many people have lived by and outlines a practical path to an extraordinary life beyond suffering. Written with honesty, clarity, sincerity, and humor, this book serves as a wonderful guide for anyone seeking a more enriching and fulfilling life.”
Dr. Bernie Siegel says, "All books of wisdom are meant to be read more than once. The Great Truth is one such book."