National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

She Couldn’t Do It Alone

This blog post was written by Christina Owens. We thank her for sharing her and her mother’s story to help other victims.

By the time I was six, I knew the drill all too well. There would be a little bit of yelling, things would be thrown about and Dad would strike Mom. She would cry and apologize and I would hide. That was my job, when things got ugly I was to be invisible and I had gotten incredibly good at it.

A few years later, it was important for me to be visible and to cry for help because the strongest woman I know was at her weakest moment in life. She was being choked and didn’t have a voice. I was afraid for her life and got help the only way I knew how – by dialling 9-1-1. The police came. They handcuffed Dad and put him in the police car – this wasn’t the first time they had been called to our house on account of domestic violence, but it was the first time that Mom’s friends decided that it was time to get involved.

They knew some of what went on at our house. They could hear it and they knew that the police had been to our house before. But they were never willing to talk to Mom about it. Maybe they didn’t know what they would say to her or maybe they felt as if it wasn’t their “place” to say anything. But one thing is certain: Mom couldn’t escape the abuse alone. Dad owned her. Her self-esteem was at an all time low and she really believed she was good for nothing. She was afraid to leave – afraid that would put her (and me) in more danger than just enduring the pain. He paid for everything we had and was financially responsible for us. And, above all else, she truly loved him. It would have been difficult for her to make it on her own and she didn’t know the first step in getting out safely.

She was never willing to press charges and, as a result, Dad never had to sit in jail for long. Mom’s closest friends were aware of this and went to work quickly. They reminded her of what she had and helped boost her confidence. They gave her the willpower she needed to change her thinking from ‘I can’t’ to ‘I can.’ They told her that his behaviour was not okay and reminded her that she had a small child who was looking up to her as an example to life.

Mom cried. She didn’t want to continue living this way, but she didn’t know how to get out, she’d been living this way for so long that it had become the norm for her. Mom’s good friend offered to let us live at her house, at least for a while, until we could figure something else out. Her friends encouraged her to move – to get out. They promised her they’d hide our location from him.

They promised we wouldn’t be alone.

Her friends helped her pack up our whole lives into a few boxes and we escaped to another town. Mom was saving herself, she was saving me, and she was doing what she had to do. She is one of the strongest women I know.

I often think about how different life would have been for both of us had Mom’s friends not gotten involved. I suspect that Mom would have continued to repeat the Battered Wife Syndrome week after week, month after month and year after year. Mom couldn’t do it alone. She didn’t have the strength; she didn’t have the finances and she didn’t have the know-how. Domestic violence IS everybody’s issue. Many women don’t know the first step to take. They need a friend. A friend they can trust; a friend who is willing to help, willing to listen without blame.

Our new life would not have been possible without the help of Mom’s friends. Know your neighbors; know your friends. If someone is hurting your friend or family member, it IS your business. Get involved. Stop domestic violence NOW!

7 replies
  1. GINI says:

    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!!!!

    • rita says:

      Once they take over the money, finding you way out is damn near impossible. Sorry. Here is a question, are you a strong woman? Do you have kids? Are you a stay at home mom? Hopefully you are lucky enough to be just a housewife with no responsibility of young kids. This is.your best way out! Pray. Get a safety deposit box. Hide all your information i.e your birth records, bank cards, money, SSI cards, anything and everything you will need to safely get yourself out. Then use what little money you have on those credit cards to get a job. Keep the job quiet. He finds out about it…he will try and make you quite. Save the money you make and put it in the safety deposit box. When you think you have enough money, one day go to your lonely bedroom and don’t be there when he wakes up. Leave in the mist of night and go to a homeless shelter. Seek abuse counselor, they may send you to a divorce lawyer and that will be the start of your new life. Hopefully he isn’t a stalker or something worse. So pray your transition will be the worst part of the escape. P.S. You can’t afford a safety deposit box…15 years ago Family Catholic Services in many parts of the country had people who help protect woman against DV for free. The organization would hold all your money, and identification during the course of making an escape, upon living you didn’t have to stay and fight for the things you might need. It allowed a woman to make her escape from the house with nothing more than the cloths on her back. The man is more than likely willing to allow the woman to leave because he thinks she going to return for her things. This is why you need everything secretly out the house. The less you physically leave the house with is best because you can move quicker and more quieter, and the less you have to protect if he confronts you. More importantly the less he see you leaving with the more faith he will have that you are coming back. That may allow you the time needed to get out the house and get where you have to go safely.

      • rita says:

        Your situation really is bothering me. It seems so unfair. There also another possible solution. You say your house is paid for. ..So, you might be able to get food stamps from welfare if you are a mom with young children and a five year money grant. That is what a friend told me. Second hand information only. They might also help you go to school and get job training. You can get the deed to the house, and place that in a safety deposit box along with other important documents i.e. SSI card, and fast cash just in case. Then get a retraining order if possible, and change all the locks allowing entry into the house. Literally take your life back. Again this is dangerous if he is truly a stalker or worse. This may even be more dangerous than just leaving. Just a thought.

  2. Jane says:

    I am being emotionally abused by someone who knows me, but I dont know him. He has tried to defame me and is blackmailing me.

    The stalker have done the following since 2007. Can you suggest someone or who I should go to in order to stop the stalking. I have gone to the cyberstalking gov agent and he told me to go to NY/NJ as they are more adept at this kind of crime.
    1. There were many phone calls between March 2007-August 2007, when I would pick up the phone and no one answered it.
    2. I was stalked on the road several times. Someone would follow me from work to home.
    3. My personal computer at home was hacked. The screen backdrop was changed and so were all my email accounts hacked. The stalker/s could read all my mails. Therefore any guy (dating) I meet for the past 3 years behaved weirdly.
    4. The stalker had access to my office computer at the Co. I worked as well. Someone at my Co. was a mole.
    5. At the workplace someone had hacked into my personal accounts to find out more about my SS# etc., and therefore we were all sent credit report alerts.
    6. My house was broken into and my mail corresponding to mortgage payment was opened.
    7. The stalker can still read all my emails in spite of changing passwords several times.
    8. The stalkers have also hacked my parent’s computers too.
    9. The stalker also tried to defame me by posting messages on Google that would turn up when someone searched for me since 2009 till now.
    11. The stalker has tried to derail/rig my job search process in 2009 and even now. He has rigged my every effort to get a job or date any other man.
    12. The stalker intercepts my phone message and any message I get over the cell phone.
    13. The stalker has befriended my best friends. My best friend in another country knew everything I was doing in the US on a daily basis. I have similar situation with my friends and collegues in the US. They seem to know my current situation in spite of not letting anyone about them. I confronted my friend and she denied everything. I have told them about the stalker but they are either ignoring since the stalker has probably harassed them or is giving them incentives, such as a good job, etc.

    How do I put an end to this person’s emotional abuse and how can I protect myself. He is trying to control my life.

    • HotlineAdvocate_MT says:

      Hi Haley,

      I’m sorry that the social worker reacted to you in this way. I can imagine you felt rejected and alone. We have many resources that will not turn you away and we are glad to talk to you about your situation. We understand domestic violence and want to help you through your difficult process. Please give the National Domestic Violence Hotline a call at (800) 799-7233.

      Hotline Advocate MT

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