Thursday, May 22, 2008

Raising the Awareness, Part 2

Quotes from women about what worked to end the violence in their lives:

"Realize that it happens not to poor, retarded and uneducated people - but to your neighbor, your friends."

"The best advice I have for other battered women is to seek counseling. I sought counseling through the local mental health clinic after which I regained self-confidence and self-esteem. Prior to counseling, I believed it was my lot in life to accept the situation."

"My advice for battered women is "quit kidding yourself that the violence will stop." Seek legal counsel or a therapist who deals with battered women."

"My advice is to realize that you as a person have worth. Have faith in yourself and realize there is a better life for you somewhere - LEAVE! Promises are nice, but they rarely come true. There are sure to be people out there who love you and will help you in your new life."

(from Ending the Violence by Lee Bowker, 1998. pg 101.)

This book is based on research from the experiences of 1,000 battered wives the author surveyed. It talks about how women who are battered are not just beaten physically and sexually. They are also beaten psychologically, repeatedly told they are no good, that no one would love them, that they are lucky to have a husband or boyfriend. They are basically brainwashed into believing they deserve what they get, are less than a human, and have no hope for any other type of life. This is one of the reasons that leaving the abusive situation becomes difficult. Many women actually come to believe this is the life they deserve.

Just by being aware of this fact we can help women around us, even if we don't know they are being beaten. Be an encourager! Get to know the shy, reserved woman and tell her good things about herself. Be sincere and be consistent. She won't believe it at first. One of the videos I watched about escaping domestic violence was a vignette to demonstrate the stories of many women. In this story the woman had one friend (her husband kept her isolated) who continued to tell her how smart she was, how pretty she looked, how creative she was, and how many opportunities she could have for the future. This made her a safe person - a person who respected and valued the woman for who she was.

Let's be those kind of people for others around us.

And let's educate ourselves about the resources available - crisis phone numbers, shelter numbers - so that we can pass that on to someone in need.

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