Survivors Guide to Dealing With Abuse
Written by: Michelle Belanger
You are responsible for yourself above all. In an ideal situation, you should treat others as you'd want to be treated. But when you know that someone is not going to treat you well, there is no need to turn the other cheek. Sitting back and taking it while someone abuses you is ridiculous. There is nothing noble in that kind of self-sacrifice. When you put up with treatment like that, you degrade yourself and become a willing participant in your own abuse.
To retaliate only puts you down on the abuser's level. So what should you do? Don't participate. Walk away. If the abuser is someone you *have* to be around, ignore them utterly. If they grow physically violent and you cannot escape, by all means defend yourself in kind. Seek to bring the conflict quickly and efficiently to a close and then, once you are out of immediate danger, seek every lawful means open to you for retribution.
If the abuser is a spouse, parent, or other family member, leave. In the case of abusive parents, go to the police. Go to Human Services. They may not believe you, especially if your parents portray you as a "problem child" and make a convincing argument that they are the victims. So keep a record of the abuse. Write down every instance, photograph every cut and every bruise. Find an ally who will speak for you if speaking for yourself means your voice will go unheard.
Don't fall into the trap of believing you somehow deserve the abuse. Don't fall into the trap of believing the abuser will change. After the second chance will come the third and the fourth and the fifth. Forgiveness is not a virtue in cases like this. Forgive them later when you are far away from the situation -- but never go back, because it will just start all over again. It doesn't matter if you love them -- they will only use that love to hurt you more. Also, keep in mind that abuse does not have to mean you are getting beaten -- just the threat of violence is abuse. Words that insult and degrade you are abuse. Situations that deprive you of your rights are abuse. Anything that hurts you is abuse.
No one deserves to put up with an abusive situation. There is nothing noble or pure in enduring such pain. Escape it. Even if others tell you that you are being selfish by walking away, even if they say you are "only thinking of yourself" -- do it! You've got to look out for yourself in a situation like that because no one else is going to. Be selfish for once and look after your own needs. Even if it's your role to be there for others -- you cannot do anything for anyone else if you yourself are broken.