Victims feel helpless. Yet, when we are in an abusive relationship we put lots of effort into trying to indirectly control the abuser. Whatever it takes to keep him happy, we do. Anything we can do that might keep him from getting “angry” we try. But eventually all victims learn that nothing they do works for long---in fact, the longer the relationship continues the less their behavior seems to make any difference. There is always a new reason he is upset.
We cannot control him. We cannot make him want to stop abusing. We cannot fix him.
So what can victims be responsible for? We can be responsible for treating ourselves with respect. We are the only ones who can set our own boundaries on what types of relationship we will tolerate. In an abusive marriage, we are the only one who will put our children’s needs first and take steps to give them a healthy environment to live in.
We have the power to make many decisions that will affect our welfare and our children’s welfare. We have choices. We can ask for God’s wisdom in figuring out our options. We can decide not to keep abuse a secret any longer; we can seek help from professionals. We can pray asking God to show us how to best love each member of our family. We can separate from our partner until he gets sufficient help to end his abusive behavior. We can educate ourselves on abuse and make decisions on how to change our responses. We can seek wise counsel. We can seek help to put an end to a relationship that is harming ourselves and our children. We can process our emotions. We can model healthy self-care for our children. We can get a restraining order.
In the next post let’s talk about responsibility for former abuse victims. If we are no longer living with an abuser what are our areas of influence?