A lot of women in abusive situations are shocked at the answer I give them when they call me to ask what to do about their situation.
I simply tell them “ it’s your decision to make”, but what I can do for you, is be your listening ear and your sounding board, for when you’re ready to start taking care of yourself and possibly your life”
I say that not because I have chosen to be harsh, I say it because nobody can take a victim of abuse away from the situation until they are ready to fight for themselves.
Did you know that 85 percent of women who leave abusive situations go back?
This does sound heartbreaking doesn’t it? It’s not that because they don’t want the abuse to stop, they’re just not psychologically ready to walk away. It takes an abuse victim a long time to work through the various emotions; shock, sadness, helplessness, despair, fear, etc. before they get to the emotion they need and can use; courage.
Think about it. What can you and I really do, to help a victim? Very little. A big percentage of abused women are unfortunately financially and emotionally dependent on their abuser.
Can she get a place to live while she regroups and rebuilds her life?
Usually her immediate friends and family may not be ready to help for fear of attack from the abuser she is fleeing. Sometimes such abusers usually alienate all these close friends and family till their victim feel alone. Most people also just assume she will go back and therefore don’t want to “meddle”.
Can you help her with the upkeep and child care expenses till she’s back on her feet?
Housing, food, clothing, other needs.
Sometimes just the weight of all these causes most victims to just sink back in despair and stay.
In low income countries like Ghana the government and civil society may not be helpful either. In developed world settings using a mix of government and charitable donations, shelters and other social service agencies provide accommodation, psychosocial, legal counseling and other essential services for women escaping abuse.
Since I cannot afford to take on the responsibility of the victim and their dependents , I am very clear on exactly what abused women need to do once they’ve had enough.
- Find a job, pronto.
- Save money, put every penny away for the future
- Ask for help (you will be disappointed how many will help but ask anyway). In this area she must be careful because abusers can escalate their abuse if they suspect their victim is planning something.
- Avoid having more children with the abuser if possible, more children with an abusive partner complicates things.
- Draw on all your inner strength and energies, you cannot get tired. You’re going to need to work like never before, because you’re starting life all over again most likely with no money and usually children to take care of.
Those who are not ready to put in the work, would most probably be right back with their abuser in no time.
Of course I do realize that not all abused women have financial problems. Women who are financially independent maybe easier to assist if they can overcome societal judgment, fear of being alone and losing someone they believe they love, they will most likely sail through. If you’ve left an abusive situation and are struggling with your thoughts whether to go back or not, PLEASE DON’T. Abusers can’t change.
This is why I took time out of my busy life to write this posts. Many women are afraid that their abuser would try to harm them if they leave. And with good reason: about a third of female homicide victims were killed by a spouse, lover, or ex-lover; and that’s not counting the women who are “merely” beaten, stalked, emotionally abused and so forth. I know, I know all of this sounds scary, but so does being beaten to death whilst living with your abuser. Gather your courage and leave.
By Rasheeda Adams an entrepreneur and mother who lives in Accra, Ghana