National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

After Years of Abuse, No More Drama

The following blog entry was written by Hotline National Advisory Board Member Sil Lai Abrams.

It seems strange to say this now, but as a child I didn’t know that I was growing up in an abusive home, or that there was specific legal term for my father’s behavior:  battering.  The only thing I did know was that living with my parents was incredibly isolating and painful and I made it my mission to get as far away from them as much and as soon possible.  I began running away from home during my sophomore (and final) year in high school.  This went on for a couple of years until I became of legal age and the day after my 18th birthday, jumped on a one-way flight to New York City armed only with two suitcases, $200 and the dream of a better life.

Like many who grow up in dysfunctional environments, I swore that I would never have a relationship like the one my parents had with each other.  And like many adult survivors of abusive homes, in spite of my most fervent wishes, I found myself in a relationship when I was in my early twenties that was eerily similar to my parents’.  On the surface my boyfriend was nothing like my father.  He was charming, didn’t drink or think housecleaning was women’s work and enjoyed being a hands on dad to my son from a previous relationship and the daughter we had together.  He was also, as I discovered soon into our relationship, very controlling and jealous.  The emotional and verbal abuse which dominated the first year of our relationship escalated to physical violence while I was pregnant with his child and only ended after he was arrested several times and ordered to stay away from me by a judge.

I stayed with him for all the wrong reasons and told myself that he would change.  In fact, he did change but it wasn’t for the better.  For five long years I weathered his abuse until I received counseling and support from a local organization that worked with victims of crime and violence called Safe Horizon.  Their support empowered me to permanently leave our relationship and begin the process of healing and rebuilding my life.  I am happy to say that in the years since, I have created a life for myself and children that is beyond my wildest dreams, a life that includes intimate relationships that are loving, supportive and free from violence.

When I left my batterer I told myself that if I ever was in a position where I could be of support to other women who have experienced intimate partner violence that I would try in some way to help.  When my book No More Drama: Nine Simple Steps to Transforming a Breakdown into a Breakthrough was published in 2007 I was given the opportunity do so by sharing the nine-step self-help method outlined in my book and my personal testimony of overcoming violence as tools to motivate women living in domestic violence shelters. Additionally, my role as relationship expert for Men’s Fitness provides me with a national media platform to discuss various relationship issues, including domestic violence, which has led to various speaking and media appearances.  It was at a taping for Good Morning America last fall that I met former Hotline CEO Sheryl Cates.  We were both on a panel discussing the Chris Brown/Rihanna incident which generated a huge amount of media attention for the issue of teen dating violence.  Sheryl and I had an instant connection and when she asked me to join the National Advisory Board a few months later I didn’t hesitate to accept.

It is truly an honor to be a part of the National Advisory Board for the National Domestic Violence Hotline, an organization that has done a tremendous amount of work over the past 15 years to help victims of domestic violence.  Although it has been 13 years since I left my abuser, I will never forget what it was like to live with the constant threat of violence over my head. I am humbled to be able to serve those whose lives have been affected by domestic violence and it is my hope that the efforts of those of us in the anti-domestic violence movement will in time stamp out one of the greatest threats to the health and well being of our families and communities.

Sil Lai Abrams
Writer, Inspirational Speaker, Empowerment Specialist
Men’s Fitness magazine relationship expert
10 replies
  1. Viviana says:

    Its been a little over a year since i went thru domestic violence. I saw a sign at the hospital about this website and how u all help women that are or have gone thru it. When I saw it, I had a yearning to try to help and do something as well. I just need help finding ways to do so. I’m 20 and happily married to a wonderful man now.

    • Diane says:

      Hi Viviana,

      It’s good to hear that you were able to get out of an abusive relationship and that you are now in a better place. We do get calls from people wanting to help out in their community and we would be happy to help you explore different ways to do that. We have lots of resources so please feel free to call us and we will be more than happy to provide a referral for you where you can do volunteer work or help out in other ways too. Our confidential and anonymous hotline number is 1-800-799-7233.

      Sincerely,
      NDVH Advocate

      • Brandy says:

        Can anyone help me? I am trying to get out of this abusive relationship that I have been in for seven years.I am doing all the right things and am sinking further and further down. My internet will be cut off tonight and that’s the very LEAST of what I am having to deal with.
        I was a restaurant manger,but was “laid off” after the 3rd violent act against me within 6 months. They really gave me nowreason, but I knew why. Even though I didn’t miss work, facing customers with black eyes, swollen jaws, sprains and slings, I guess was more than they bargained for.
        Now it’s happened again. I let him home after promises of rehab (it’s the “alcohols fault”)and financial help. Needless to say, rehab didn’t happen and after 2 months of sobriety, I got hurt again. He drank again. Now he’s in jail with 75000.00 worth of bonds.
        I’m trying to do all the right things. All the things that I was told would make my life better.
        I am going to counseling (have been since last incident), I got my son in counseling, I finally filed an injunction, I have applied through the state for relocation assistance and am co operating with the DA.
        Here’s the thing…I had just paid the rent with my unemployment. He was to pay the utilities on his next pay day. Well, he’s in jail and I’m second guessing my decision to call the police.
        My electric got shut off (i did get it back with some cleaver internet instructions), my water the following day (I borrowed gas money from the women’s shelter to talk to them in person and show them arrest report) they’ve turned it back on but want payment in one week, now, Sunday, my car got repossessed….no , I wasn’t 3 months late…not even two months late…it’s a buy here pay here weekly thing so one month was enough for them….oh and my “prepaid cell gets shut off on the 28th……AND because of my handy dandy safety plan all my documents and my son’s are in the trunk…of the car that got towed away in the night….
        Now here I sit with no options but this one last cry for help while I still have internet(thank god he kept up on his precious cable bill)….
        WHERE ARE ALL THE PEOPLE WHO TOLD ME TO LEAVE?! You know the ones who told me I was stupid to stay, weak, could do better, didn’t need him…that i would be ok and better….I’m not better. I am losing everything and have no friends around (they couldnt stand to watch anymore)
        I get a hefty tax return every year (about 4000.00) but have no one to loan me 2500.00 (cuz now they want the payoff amount on the car, not just whats behind which is 375.00)
        IS THERE ANYBODY ANYWHERE THAT CAN HELP ME? Do you know of any kind souls that would help if I promised to direct deposit my tax check when I get it? They can have the full amount ….I just need 2500.00. When my car was towed, I told my son that we could get it back with my unemployment check (for 440.00 that comes on Friday) but that we’d lose the phone etc. He was willing to tough it out. But 2500.00?! I tried to get a loan. The only place I could get approved was for 1000.00 and they want the title for that. I cant get the title for that amount of money. My parent both had gheart attacks within the last 6 months and live in another state…they can’t help……HELP ME PLEASE!
        I started looking for help on line and found this site. I don’t know what else to do.

        • dave says:

          hi, i no this is kind of unusual being a man & all. but i can relate to youre story as i was raised in an abuse home. of course like you i also thought it ws normal. the only difference between our story is i was abused. as i grew older i realized that this just wasnt right. the only way i put a stop to it is i grew into a very strong young man. & when my dad came after me one day w/ a broom i took it from him & snap it in half & told him if he ever tryed to beat me again the tables would turn on him. as a result ive grown up to despise abusive people whether it be a man or woman. my mom was abusive as well. is there anyway i can vollunteer to help abusive people ? as i do vollunteer w/ homeless children & work w/ the elderly. please let me know. thank you and good luck w/ what you are doing. sincerly david l. keyes

    • zeba says:

      Thank you “Men March against Domestic Violence,” and for standing up against all violence
      against women. Even in my situation where someone in my small apartment building, or right
      outside makes loud pounding sounds that are alarming and keep me awake. This occurs
      every night intermittently, and sometimes during the day.
      I believe they, he, she is an obsessed human being, and is breaking the law by repeated harassment
      alone, for starters! Somehow they are enabled, and just keep right on going. It is a
      horrible experience, primarily because NO ONE does a thing to stop them-the ‘bystanders who
      don’t care.’ Evil happens when good people do nothing.

  2. doviedo says:

    Brandy, thank you for contacting us. It sounds as if you are going through an extremely difficult time right now and I would encourage you to please contact the Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. We are here 24 hours a day and can talk with you about some options for help. Also, we are concerned about your safety, so we have deleted your identifying information on your post. Please contact us via phone.

    Sincerely,
    NDVH Advocate

    • Hatti says:

      doviedo,
      Perhaps I missed something,, I’m an advocate who, for all practical purposes, stumbled onto this site. (and thank the Lord, God and heavens above I’m NOT married to an abuser) Maybe you changed her name, but I could read much of the post including the person’s name, the time at which she posted the comment, and her, HORRIBLY UNFORTUNATE situation. If her PIECE -OF-S**T abuser is trying to track her, he might be able to do so.
      He’s welcome to take it up with me personally! I live in Denver CO, which was the 1st state to pass the “Castle Law” (aka – the “make my day” law). In short, it means, if someone were to break into my home, I could use whatever force necessary to defend myself and those who dwell within its bounds. It also applies should an intruder threaten someone at their business. This could also include your car!
      NOTE and DISCLAIMER: THE STIPULATIONS AND PROVISIONS OF CASTLE LAWS VARY CONSIDERABLY FROM STATE TO STATE. What may be acceptable and legal in one state, could be a felony accompanied by a lengthy prison sentence in another. (esp. for those who can’t afford a top rate defense attorney, but instead, has an over-worked, underpaid public defender. Not to speak against public defenders, but the issue with them is, they have huge case loads, which means less time spent on your case, and they likely have less experience manipulating the legal system to which they’ve been assigned. CAREFULLY RESEARCH the provisions “castle laws” in your state AND CHECK with your local law enforcement establishment before taking drastic action.
      If nothing else, Ms. B, PLEASE DON’T GIVE UP! Even though I’m not with an abuser, I know ALL-TOO-WELL about the financial issues of which you speak. I know what it’s like to get my “choice”, of which bills to pay this time. All are owed money, but because I don’t have enough to satisfy the insatiable appetites of the corporate giants, , thus I get my “choice” of which one I’ll pay . With out-stretched arms and up-turned palms, they ALL demand payment YESTERDAY.. I can’t can’t promise it, but if you keep trying, you may encounter someone who has also been in a bad situation financially, and they might work with you. If the person who answers sounds firm, unbending and resolute, hang up and try again. Chances are good, they’re INCAPABLE of anything beyond “black-and-white” thinking, have NO COMPREHENSION of your terrible situation, because they have not walked in your shoes.
      I can’t imagine going through the financial nightmare AND having to deal with an abuser at the same time. Alcohol is an excuse. I know people who may abuse drugs and/or alcohol who are NOT abusive.
      Your soon-to-be X (I hope) has DEEPLY SEEDED psychological issues that are NOT your problem nor are they your fault, but they’re beyond your control! You are NOT a bad person, and it’s likely you are not stupid, despite your what your abuser wants you to believe. You are a human being. Humans make mistakes and poor decisions sometimes. It seems yours was in your choice of men.
      It can happen to anyone, because abusers are often skilled manipulators. They practice at it just like a musician practices an instrument . They can create an extremely convincing illusion of being kind, caring and even charming. Perhaps he has that side, but the other side takes over and causes all kinds of grief. People whio behave in thatr fashion are in need intensive long-term psychiatric care, and possibly, anti-psychotic medication. Since he’s a drinker, perhaps a manditory antabuse program might curb those “urges”.
      Most of all, he will have to own up that he has a problem, and it’s unlikely his ego will allow it. Instead of holding themselves accountable, abusers tend to blame anyone and everyone for their problems or failures in life. Ever notice how, according to him, it’s NEVER his “fault.”
      By making excuses or letting him blame you for his deplorable behavior (i.e. “Oh, I dun’ made him made”.) or lying to “cover” for his infantile mentality, (“I got the black eye because I fell down the stairs), you’re enabling him. You’re telling him it’s . what’s worse is, you’re telling yourself you don’t deserve better when, in reality, YOU DESERVE BETTER!
      couples CAN ARGUE and DISAGREE without the use of force or threats. Relationships take work! There’s a “cooling off” period. Once the “air has settled”, both parties sit down aqnd talk. sometimes, it means having to agree to disagree, it often means compromise but this means BOTH sides give and take. ONCE AND FOR ALL, NO ONE, there is PLENTY to fear out there in the big bad world. Sick twisted scary people, financial woes, war, violence, and the list is endless. The one place EVERYONE SHOULD feel safe to seek refuge from the many fears this world offers, be it ever so humble, IS IN THEIR OWN HOME! PLEASE HOLD ON! It may not be of much comfort now, but it really is darkest before the dawn!
      should EVER have to fear

  3. GINI says:

    I posted this just a minute ago, forgot to add, I am now 58 & NEED HELP financially.. 2010-10-30 00:55:14

    I am facing financial abuse along with emotional & physiological abuse. My husband told me that I don’t
    exist to him anymore that he can & will NOT support me any longer. I know this is illegal, but, he is controlling ALL the money He won’t hand over ANY cash, threatens me if I use the credit card, that he will shut that down, he told me to stop using the electricity in our home, turns off the lights while I am in the house, he told me that he will NOT take out the trash that it’s NOT his trash, that he just doesn’t want to, he now refuses to put the toilet seat down or flush the toilet, he yells at the top of his voice if I try to say ANYTHING to him, & acts like a 7 year old. The financial abuse is the worst, & I DON’T know how to go about to change this. He told me to STOP eating out, which I rarely do, he asked me WHY I had to eat all the time, now mind you, I only NOW weigh 90 lbs. because of him. I have health problems & he REFUSES to pay for my health care unless he knows WHERE I go to the doctor & only HE can tell me who to go to for my health care needs. His sister-in-law told him that he DOESN’T have to take care of my health care needs because only HE can tell me where to go & that he CAN know who I see. She has told him that as long as I have the use of the credit card, he doesn’t have to give me ANY kind of money, including cash. That he can shut the card down any time he wants. He also refuses to put money in OUR checking account. We own our home, yet he feel free to tell me to leave & he doesn’t have to do anything. This is OUR home, & he thinks he can get away with abuse!!! I NEED the help of an attorney, HELP!!!!…GINI P.S. He is hiding a savings account & has it in our sons name & his & found this in OUR garage that he has locked me out of, including OUR bedroom, I sleep in the other bedroom. He is hiding ALL kind of finances from me. I am trying to get as much info. from our court house as possible. PLEASE HELP ME to find finances so I can LIVE!!!!

  4. Denise says:

    @Dave, thank you for wanting to volunteer. Each state has a coalition that includes their local family violence programs. You can find the state coalitions on our website at http://www.thehotline.org/get-help/help-in-your-area/. The coalition can let you know if they have volunteer opportunities available or put you in touch with your local program. The Hotline can also direct you to a program in your area if you would like to call us at 1-800-799-7233.

  5. Kati says:

    Hello, I hope I can get some good advice from this site. I am a survivor of domestic violence (i have never written those words before and still cannot say them) I met my significant other 7 years ago and we have two little ones together. The first time I called for help, I gave the police all the information I could give without getting beat again, and the police came the next day and put me in jail. I spent three days in jail and was charged with child abuse. All charges were dropped but my kids were placed in social services. I thankfully got them back quickly and went through many steps to insure that I would have them. I was given Full Parental Rights and told that their father could visit if supervised by myself or family member. Not even a year later while he came to visit his children something happened that I have no memory of at all. I woke feeling like I had the flu and then started halucinating. My mom took me to the doctor and was admited and given 3 days to live because my kidneys and liver had shut down. I survived and did well. While I was in the hospital, My mom took my children to social services for protection from their dad. I was treated as a criminal and fought to get my childrent back again. The police were contacted and reports were made. The kids father was found not guilty. The jury believed he beat me but they couldnt put an exact date on it so they voted not guility. Almost a year to that day I am battling once again to keep my childern. On Sept 9th 2010, my ex called me at my home (i live by myself with just my children) I was drinking and upset because I had just found out that my daughter (5) was touched in a very bad way by my sitters ex-husband. I called a friend over to talk to and while she was there he stormed in the door with a friend, they had guns and knives. He yelled at me for the address and then back handed me so hard my jaw was broke. I dont remember the other details but Im told he put a knife to my throat and a gun to my head. He did pull the trigger and the gun was loaded but by the grace of GOD the gun jammed. His friend was appaled at what he was doing and made him leave. My firend called the police and again I was arrested for child abuse and put in jail. This time I had to spend 20 days in jail. During that time, I was refused medical care, the police visited me about a drive by shooting they believe he did and a bank robbery he commited. I fould out later on the news that he had been found and shot himself. He died on October 2, 2010. The judge is NOT wanting me to have my children back at all. Their GAL does not want any of my family to have them because she says I control my whole family. I am taking full responsibility for this but not haveing my children in killing me. Do you know if I have ANY rights? Im am totally lost. I have always provided for my children. How does the government think taking my children away is ok and going to stop the violence. Now the judge tells me I will just do it again. I am getting therapy 3 days a week and I only get supervised visits 2 times a week for one hour. I have done U.A’s and B.A.’s in the hundrends by now and not one was ever positive for anything other than a pain pill. I am in Denver Colorado. Do you have any suggestions/advice. I am desperate to get my babies back. My daughter doesnt know her beloved dad is gone. Thank you

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