If you are currently living with domestic violence, and wondering when the time will be right to make a concrete decision about staying or going, this is for you…
The rate of intimate partner violence in Australia is confronting. No doubt about it. Talk to just a handful of women and you’re sure to find someone who has a direct experience of, or connection to, domestic violence. But, what if it’s YOU. What if you’re the one currently living in an abusive, unstable relationship not knowing whether to stay or go? Trust me, I get it.
Regardless of whether the abuse is physical, emotional, financial, spiritual or otherwise… it is one of the most difficult decisions you will ever have to face. Should I stay or should I go?
Throw in years of psychological warfare, a few kids, some financial constraints and abuse induced low self-confidence and you’re almost paralysed… yes?
So how do you know what to do?
Can I answer that question for each specific set of relationship circumstances? Absolutely not. But what I can do is make some basic suggestions that will help you at least get past that perpetually frustrating place of being stuck… not knowing which way to go.
Firstly, you need to open up.
Whether it’s a close friend, a colleague, your favourite aunty, a counsellor…. you need to tell someone. When it comes to abuse and trauma bonding with an abuser your mind can be left completely overwhelmed and options can seem limited. So, very carefully choose someone who you look up to for support and advice normally. Someone you admire for their compassion and levelheadedness. Pick your person then make a time to speak with them. Remember, a problem shared (with the right person) is often a problem halved. People can’t help support you if they don’t even know what you are living with.
Next, you need to ask yourself a few of these questions;
- Am I sad/angry/confused or alone more often that I am cared for/protected/loved/supported and nurtured?
- Do this person’s values/morals and relationship goals align with mine?
- Can I be the best version of myself whilst I am in a relationship with this person?
- If there are no obvious signs of improvement in this relationship, am I happy to settle for this in the future…at any cost?
- What would I say to a friend who was staying in a relationship like this?
- Is this the sort of relationship I would want for my girlfriend/daughter/sister/mum?
- Does this person truly love me?
- Do I truly love this person or do I love the idea of who I thought they could become?
- What does this person do for me that actually makes me happy?
- What am I prepared to settle for?
- What am I flat out NOT prepared to settle for?
- What does my future look like if I stay with this person?
- What does my future look like if I DON’T stay with this person?
- Am I ok for my/our children to grow up with this relationship modelled as ‘normal’ for them?
- Is the life I will have with this person better than ANY life I can create without them?
If you struggle with these questions, don’t panic, it means they’re working.
It means you are starting to question your reality on a new and far more powerful level. It also means you are seeing the abuse for what it is and not what the abuser would have you think it is. Abuse will never equal love. Think about that as you ponder your future. Think about all the healthy relationships you know to exist and consider what you truly deserve in life.
And, one last little nugget of wisdom for you… something I personally considered for a long, long time on my own journey. Something a therapist once answered when I asked her “How do you know when to go?” to which she replied…
“Erica, you’ll know when you know”.
And that I did. Still, all these years later, I remember what day and time it was and what was said to me that was my own personal ‘you’ll know when you know’ moment.
So there you have it… Domestic Violence | Should I Stay Or Should I Go?
I hope this article inspires you to make the decisions you need to make. Hard as they are.
Remember, if you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, support is available. Information on how She Counselling can help is available here. You can also reach out for support via the contact page. My services are available Australia wide. As a survivor myself, it would be my pleasure to help you.
If you know someone who would benefit from reading this article, please share it using the links below. In the mean time you may like to check out the following articles;
And, feel free to check out (and buy if you like) two of my fave books about domestic violence here.
Until next week…
Yours in better mental health,