DVAM Challenge 8: For Frustrated Friends & Family

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

DVAM Challenge 8: For Frustrated Friends & Family

Watching someone you love experience domestic violence can be very disheartening. If the person you care for is not reacting the way that you want them to — for example, leaving the situation – it’s easy to become frustrated.

One of the most common reasons that friends and family members of victims become frustrated is because they witness or hear about abusive behaviors happening repeatedly, but don’t see any action being made by their loved one. Witnessing repeated offenses can make it difficult for you to maintain a positive outlook on your loved one’s situation.

Unfortunately, this can have a very negative effect on the victim. Your disapproval may make them feel as if they are helpless and are doing nothing for themselves. They may feel as if they cannot turn to you in times of crisis because you will judge them — if they feel that you aren’t supportive, they might distance themselves from you.

A lot of people lose relationships because of domestic violence.

Remember that abusive relationships are very complex. Abusers often manipulate their victims into believing that they will never be successful, that they will be unsupported or that they will be harmed if they leave the relationship. That can be very scary. Furthermore, abusers often follow fits of rage with periods of kindness in which they are very sweet, apologize and promise not to commit that violence again. That can be very confusing for the victim. Sometimes victims even blame themselves for the abuse that they suffer, telling themselves that if they hadn’t said or done something, their partner wouldn’t have been set off.

Before you pass judgment, try to understand what’s happening in their relationship.

The most important thing that you can do for your loved one is to be there for them when they are in need. Supporting them through tough times will maintain the relationship, but will also provide the victim with a network of care outside of the relationship.

In the spirit of supporting a loved one even when it’s tough, today’s challenge highlights ongoing friendship. DVAM Challenge #8: please acknowledge someone who has always been there for you and shown you support. Say thank you to them and share with us how they have helped you. This doesn’t even need to be related to abuse. If you are sharing your story about abuse, please make sure you do so safely. If you feel that speaking out jeopardizes your safety, please don’t share publicly but rather thank your friend.

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  1. My daughter and I left domestic violence 14 years ago. Starting over is a slow process, especially when you know no one and live below the poverty line. We have a few “angels” who have helped us on our way. Two of them are my co-workers in domestic violence victim advocacy work who have been there supporting us along the way. One helped me find a sponsor to travel to Washington DC and attend advanced advocate training a few years ago. She is my wing angel in the work I do with more than 1548 victims and survivors around the world… and is there when things at work get insane and I need a voice of sanity in the insanity. The other is there whenever I call, listening, and doing all she can to help. We laugh and cry together and work together so well those we work with insist that we are one brain in two bodies! We both found our passion helping other victims become survivors. She does this in spite of being in the same place herself.
    I’m not using their names, but they know who they are, and how much they mean to me and to the women who depend on us. YOU GUYS ROCK!!! WE COULDN’T DO WHAT WE DO WITHOUT YOU. THANKS!

  2. My sister, Carissa has been the strong one for me when I couldn’t be. I never saw it coming. When it did it was exactly as you say. Fits of rage followed by acts of kindness. Then in the end, nothing. No remorse, no empathy. The fights get worse. My sister came to me in a heart beat when I finally said I was too tired to fight anymore. So yes please be patient with your loved one. Keep reminding them you are there to help.

  3. All I can say is that my ex husband was a very charming man, everyone loved him. All I know is that the way he was around other people, friends, family and co-workers was not the way he was at home with me. He always seemed bothered, angry, annoyed. When I would ask him a question I had to make sure it was going to come out right because if it didn’t I knew the outcome. My abuse started by him always accusing me of cheating, then he started calling me name’s, calling my work and telling my co workers and humiliating me and embarrassing me in front of others, eventually he would put holes in the walls during this time I was volunteering for a police department helping victims of domestic violence, I remember sitting through my second day of training class and the coordinator in charge was going through the signs and the cycle and I remember thinking this sounded similar to me only thing was I felt it hadn’t escalated enough to.believe he was an abuser. I continued in the relationship and later on I realized what I was dealing with only thing was I couldn’t leave not because I didn’t want to but because I felt it was my home and if anyone should leave I felt it was him. He eventually started to shove me into the walls, throwing me over the couch, breaking anything and everything and trying to run me off with his car by hitting my vehicle while my 1yr old sat in the car seat while he drove his truck into the side of the back passenger door only thing I could think was that he was crazy..I was married for 4 years before I saw any signs of abuse, I didn’t see the signs, but looking back they were always there I just didn’t recognize them!!! I was a working mother, attended college full time, and volunteered with victims of D.V, I wanted to be a police officer, I lost my future because I finally chose to leave. Don’t stay because you think you have too, leave before you lose your life over it. I am still trying to gain control of my life even though I.left him 2 years agowhen he threatened to kill me and my friend who was a police officer helping me leave, my ex describing to me what he was going to do to him and then me and threatening to kill me if I took him to court also threatened to blow up the court, so I finally did get a protection order and I still fear him but I am grateful I left and my children are doing so much better today, as for me I’m still coping through the emotions of it all.

    1. Mari,

      It is great to hear you are a survivor. It can be very scary to leave, especially when someone is telling you they are going to kill you and your friend; but you took those courageous steps and left. You mention that you are still feeling the emotions from what happened, if you would like a referral for counseling or support groups in your area, please give us a call 24/7 at 1-800-799-7233.
      Thank you for sharing with our blog community.


  4. I’m glad that you got out of this craziness! My concern is that you will remain a victim! I was sad when I read your comment that said:” I lost my future because I finally chose to leave” I can’t imagine how you must feel but I thought about the “gain’ for you and the children in terms of peace of mind, and setting them an example of strength and courage.The things of this world are not nearly as important as the emotional strength of leaving a bad situation. You may very well have saved your lives! My daughter “got out” of the same kind of situation. Are things easy for her? No. Are the things she dreamed of for herself an the children the same? Probably not. View your self as an up and coming overcomer! That’s why you should be proud of yourself! Any change takes adjusting.Since I already believe you have what it takes to fulfill your dreams,you believe it too. It may be hard work and take time,but you can do it because you are a survivor!

  5. @ Mary Ellen yes I must admit that I had a lot going for me, on the evening I chose to leave I had just returned from training at the Police Academy I was so excited about all the accomplishments I was making even though I was quietly going through the abuse. I remember how happy I was and how I was so ready to leave the marriage simply because everything I was involved in gave me hope as well as confidence, with my strength I built for myself and my children I couldn’t imagine anyone taking it from me. So when I look back I realized I did manage to leave because I was so tired of the hurt and my kids crying all the time as they watched their father do the things he did. What gave me more strength as well as sadness is the last night I ever let him hurt me was having my 2 yr old at the time come to my rescue and my oldest son calling the police, it was then I realized it was time to go. I walked away with nothing but myself and my children. So while I must admit starting over has been difficult at times I’m just grateful to god now that my children are happy and I can sleep at night!!! I am working on finishing up my degree in Criminal Justice and hope that one day I can speak to victims of Domestic Violence!!!! I thank all the.people that gave me hope and yes I am a survivor 🙂

  6. I you were abused a long time ago but you are still thinking about it and it is affecting your life can you still get counseling?. Can you still get this counseling even if the abuser is no longer stalking you and threating you but you are still afraid and remember every time you see him?

    1. Julia,
      It’s not uncommon for a survivor of abuse to still be dealing with the effects of the trauma they’ve been through, even after being away from that relationship. There may be counseling services available for you locally. If you’d like to talk to someone and find local programs for help, you are welcome to contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline here at 1-800-799-7233. We are anonymous and confidential, and a safe place to talk about it.


  7. i was abused.. it started out i could never come home to see my family as we lived across the state. i missed funerals and holidays and it made me so sad. i would have to call and say he said the car was not running right, or he thought we were short on money, or something else like that. i did not even realize how much of me was gone till i was told i had an illness, no cure but i survive and i live. when i was pregnant with my youngest daughter he choked me, twisted my arms forced me to my knees and was always threatening me under his breath so no one but i knew it. i finally left when my youngest was 11 he tried to swat at her and she had never been in trouble and did not know how to react so she dodged and ran. a few days later i found a womans panties in his laundry after he had a military trip. i thought the man can not be kind to me but could be nice enough to charm the panties off someone else. i felt alone in a crowd. and i was so self-conscious i could actually not walk into a convience store because i felt no good.he threatened to kill me when i left. but he also tried to tell me i always had a home. it took me a few years to get my belief in me back. i have not laid eyes on him in 4 years and that is fine with me. i was married to the man over 25 years. all i can say is he did not start out mean. but he undermined my confidence and made me feel like everything in the world was my fault. when i got sick, i was so afraid i would die sad. then i started realizing what i had let him do to me. i was too good to him, and he turned it on me. i did not realize totally what all he had done to me until i got away for awhile. i remember the last few times we were intimate, he hurt me, i cried all night. i remember feeling dirty and used, he just did not care about how you felt. i have not been with a man or even on a date since. i am probably a bit scared. besides i am not a thin beauty. i am a chunky big-hearted woman that loves to laugh and i think i fear someone not being real. and i never want fingertip bruises on my arms or someone talking down to me like i am nothing ever again. i do not wish to see anyone else live it either. it happens so slowly.. in my case it did.. he was not like that right away. he did it slowly because i was strong when we first married, but little by little i lost me. i never knew it till i got some strength from somewhere and left. i wish i had found myself sooner, but i am so thankful that i found me at all. he had tried to drag me with his truck and i am blessed i did not die as many women do. i know i felt shamed but now i will tell it cause i am so afraid someone else may be on that slow road to being dominated. if he had just hit me at the first i would have left, but because he took my confidence i did not realize how bad it was.. i knew i was sad and alone. i wrapped my being up in my kids. so i would not have to deal with what i was living. i dont know if my story fits, but i worry someone else may be slowly loosing themselves.

    1. Rose,

      Thanks for having the courage to share your story with our blog community. It sounds like he put you through so much for a long time and it’s great to hear that you are now safe. It is very common for people who are abusive not to show their abuse at first and for it to be gradual. Abuse is all about someone wanting to gain control over the other person so it’s typical for things to start out good. If you’d like to speak to an advocate at anytime, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. Your story is very inspiring- thanks again!

  8. Do you realize the example you give to your female daughters when you stay with an abuser? My mother stayed with my father and offered herself to be the sacrificial lamb. I decided based on the domestic violence in growing up I would never have children. I chose men who treated me less than a dog. I still have male coworkers who sexually harass me even though I show no sexual interest..there is a young married female coworker who slept with a married and single male coworker on the same shift. The female’s husband came for a confrontation. The other shift male coworker’s immediately used the confrontation to start harassing all females on the shift. The 52 year old married male coworker danced like a male stripper in an elevator with 7-8 other males when I was riding to go to work. No male stopped him…it all a joke. The reason the males were so bold was because the young female gave them all the reasons to start sexual harassment of all female coworkers on the shift. I changed shifts because after domestic violence and disrespect by a psychotic father I could not take this abuse any more. I was told of my father’s death after his funeral.. by my brother who then told me to go to hell because my father spread lies to my brother and sister about me. I was not given any funeral time off but due to uncontrollable crying the management later gave me one day off for the death of my father. My father told everyone that I reminded him of my mother because I had her physical features. My sister did not resemble my mother and my father idolized her and she became his surrogate spouse.The effects of abuse followed me into my mid 50’s.

    1. Anonymous,

      Abusive relationships can be complicated and can definitely impact the children who grow up in them. There are many reasons why a victim may stay: financial dependence, children, threats, and even love. You do not mention if you have talked to your mom about what her reasons might have been for staying, maybe that is a discussion the two of you can have; it may help the healing process. A book that might be helpful to you is When Dad Hurts Mom: Helping Your Children Heal the Wounds of Witnessing Abuse by Lundy Bancroft.

      As for the sexual harassment at work, have you thought about talking to Human Resources? If that is not an option you can call 9to5.org, an organization that can help with work place harassment, at (800) 522-0925.
      The National Domestic Violence Hotline is available 24/7 at 1-800-799-7233 if you would like referrals locally for counseling or support groups. Thank you for reaching out through our blog community.


  9. The religious community does not help. During all the years of domestic violence, we went to church acting like everything is normal but when Dad came home-he yelled and my mother was black and blue. My earliest memory at 2 or 3 is hiding because my ragaholic father(sperm donor) was coming home. My father eventually had an affair with his secretary married her and gave her all his money. He bragged about giving all the marital assets to her rather than my mother.

    1. Anonymous,

      I am sorry that your family had to endure living in an abusive household. It sounds like your mother may not have known that there were resources available to her. If you or anyone else impacted by the abuse in your family would like referrals for counseling and support groups locally, you can call 24/7 at 1-800-799-7233. Thank you for sharing with our blog community.


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