Psychological trauma can cause feelings of helplessness and a complete sense no control. When one is experiencing post-traumatic stress they may feel overcome by the intrusion of negative thoughts and constant flashbacks of horrid experiences. Research shows, that trauma that is caused by the harm or injury of another person is the most difficult to overcome. With that being said, imagine what it is like to be traumatized by another individual that is living in your home? Or imagine what it is like to experience harm or injury by a person who is supposed to provide you with care and support?
When thinking of domestic violence the first question that probably comes to mind is why they stay in these abusive unhealthy relationships. I always answer this question by explaining that; by the time other people notice the abuse, things have escalated so much, that leaving is not the safest or most accessible option. Domestic violence does not happen overnight. The abuser who is physically hurting their partner is probably not the same person that the victim met when they first got together. Usually, a survivor of abuse will tell you that the same person that is now abusive was once very charming and unlike any one else they had ever been with. More often than not, you will hear a survivor say, when I met my partner I thought I was the luckiest person on this planet. They will explain to you, that they are constantly shocked by the abusive person their partner had become.
Domestic Violence is often made up of manipulation and psychological terror that is so severe that victims completely lose themselves. When you are being terrorized by the person who is supposed to be your partner in life, there are feelings of confusion, shame, doubt, and maybe a little bit of hope that things will change. All of these painful feelings are often experienced alone and the survivor is usually suffering in silence. They often times wish they can tell someone that the abuse has escalated so much that they feel fear for their life or the lives of their children. Living in an abusive relationship also means that you are constantly worried what will trigger the abuser. You are not thinking ahead of how to end this abuse but rather how you will survive the day or even the hour. Therefore, your home, the place where you are supposed to feel the safest is the place where you and your family is being terrorized.
This is why when meeting a survivor of abuse I don’t wonder why they stayed but rather how they survived. I admire their strength to move forward for themselves and their children. I commend them for starting over and giving life a change. Breaking the cycle of domestic violence does not begin with the cessation of violence but with standing with the survivors rather than against them. It means that you believe someone when they tell you they are being abused. Because they need to know that their story matters and that they do not and should not suffer in silence.