When things are really bad in our lives, whatever the reason for the badness, we often feel like the good stuff will never come back into our lives again. This suffusion in badness is probably most prominent in situations concerning domestic violence.
I want to tell you about a good thing that came from a bad thing so that, whatever your situation, you won’t stop looking (and waiting) for that light at the end of the tunnel.
My friend, Gina, was in a bad marriage for years. I’ve spoken about her horrific marriage before so there is no need to relive that; the good thing is that Gina got out of that marriage with her life, sanity and spirit intact. She was one of the lucky ones. I’m sure we all know somebody who wasn’t as lucky.
A really inspiring thing I notice with people who overcome adversity is that they want to give back, to help, to prevent others from going through what they have gone through.
Gina has done that. Through her psychologist Gina met women who had gone through similar things to her and formed a group that gets together once every two weeks to offer support. These women chat, laugh, cry, eat cake and are generally just there for one another.
A few weeks ago I made a couple of chocolate fudge cakes for Gina to take along to the group; as a result of none of them being hospitalised from eating my cake I was invited along for coffee and more cake today (a very nice lemon cake, incidentally…..delicious!)
It’s hard when you meet a group of women whom you know have been abused. You don’t want to gush too much about how sorry you are or how brave they are and how glad you are that they eventually got away from their abuser. You want to be sympathetic, but also cool.
I needn’t have worried. The girls (as they like to be called) were incredibly welcoming, open and warm. After half an hour I felt like I had known them for years. What struck me most about all of them was how much they had it together. Articulate, well read, humorous; I know they were coming off the tail end of intensive therapy, but they were not the sobbing, emotional messes you might expect to see in such a group.
These women all have one thing in common with Gina and that is they come from middle class backgrounds and had partners/husbands who were very successful business professionals. The picture we often have of the abuser as the drunk, undereducated yobbo, isn’t always a true one.
Due to their backgrounds, all of them said they had a fear of not being believed about the abuse. Outwardly, their lives looked good, almost carefree. They had nice homes, nice clothes, regular holidays. Their husbands presented themselves to the outside world as friendly, nice guys, often quite charming. All of these women were called liars by certain members of their families when they revealed the abuse. An alarming statistic is that 80% of the perpetrators of domestic violence are only violent at home, not in any other part of their lives.
In a society that gives so much credence to keeping up appearances it is not surprising this statistic is as significant as it is. But just imagine going through what they went through – getting hit, getting pushed, living in fear – then telling their mother or sister or friend and not being believed. How devastating.
Support. We all need it, no matter what our circumstances. The support I saw in this group blew my mind, it made me feel that anything was possible. It made me feel that with a little bit of kindness, compassion and love the world could be changed.
In their darkest hours, the girls gave up hope; they lost the light, they lost themselves. The shared experiences, empathy and love of the group has brought hope back. It has brought them back to themselves. It has established a kind of sisterhood, full of charity, tenderness and solicitude.
I am so proud of Gina for turning her life around, for not letting the badness of another person crush her. I am even more proud that she has seen fit to get involved and help other people fight off the badness in their lives. It is inspiring, gratifying and enlivening; it is making a difference, and hopefully, will provide me with more opportunities to eat lots of delicious cake.
* If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence checking out this link is a good place to start to get some help. Please remember that you are not alone and that there are people out there who can help you.
** You can also call the Domestic Violence Helpline
in Australia on 1800 656 463
in the US on 1−800−799−SAFE (7233)
and in the UK on 0808 2000 247
I needed to read this today. I left home — not because of violence — almost two weeks ago. I need to believe that he will either get the help he needs or that I will find joy again in my life.
Hi Pearl, I am really glad that this could help you in some way. I hope that you are financially OK and have some people to help you out. I also hope your partner is able to get some help too. You WILL find joy in your life again. It will take some time but it will happen. I will be thinking of you. Don’t give up hope. Best wishes to you.
Very needed post.
Wonderful of you to share this Selma:)
Have a blessed week!!
It’s good to hear stories of people coming back out of the dark. Too many times all we hear is the horror, the violence. There is light at the end of the misery, I’ve seen it. Hope you are having a blessed week too, jsirrah!
Kudos to your friend for having the courage to leave and make her life better. It’s also inspiring to read of women backing each other and supporting each other rather than tearing each other down.
I’d like to add the number for Domestic Violence Canada Hotline : 1-800-363-9010
Thanks Selma for putting this out there.
Thanks so much for that number, Cathy. It’s great to see there are so many places to get help out there. You are so right – too often women do tear one another down. It’s an awful thing to see. And usually it’s over something really insignificant. We should all support one another. It makes such a difference.
A most important post.
I think it’s important to share experiences that are positive re. this issue. It gives people going through it a bit of hope. Thanks, slpmartin!
A great post. Domestic violence happens more than people like to admit I feel, and how wonderful that these ladies can get together to give each other support. Good on them.
It’s so great to have that support. Seeing them actually brought a tear to my eye, Mags. It was quite moving!
This is such an important post, Selma. I’m so glad you wrote it. “The girls” all safely away from their abusers now? Oh,l I do hope so!
The abusers all seem to be long gone, Patti, which is excellent news. It takes such courage to get away. I admire these women so much!
what a relief it must be to witness your friend’s turnaround. i have to admire these women for their courage, it is very hard to get out of such situations and yes, it happens to people from all walks of life. it’s just a faulty gene or something, perhaps an instinctive throwback to the cave man days, i’m being generous because i really feel that there’s no excuse for domestic abuse, while at the same time i try to remember that to be such an abuser is to be sick, and i wouldn’t hate someone for being sick, while i would hate someone for being abusive if i didnt realize they were sick, i mean sick, just like cancer.
It’s a huge relief, Tipota. It does happen to people from all walks of life. It is very difficult to accept why the abuse happens, especially if it is really violent. I know it can be the result of a personality disorder, but even that is hard to rationalise. A very tough one to come to terms with.
Magnificent post Selma and terrific news that some are managing to escape from their abusers – reaching out to getting help from others, especially those who are in a position to understand, is very important – they don’t have to do it alone.
I think that’s the key to the whole thing, Gabe, being with people who are in a position to understand. They get it, so they don’t judge. Makes such a difference!
You are a good friend indeed.
I try to offer as much support as I can, writingfeemail. I hate to see people in pain, so when they come out the other side ….. whew…what a relief!
When I lived in Yorkshire, a couple of police officers came to see me … said domestic violence had been reported next door, and had I seen or heard anything?
I said I couldn’t believe anyone could abuse such a beautiful, charming lady … they said you got it wrong … it’s the other way about. SHE’s been beating HIM up!
Truly, you can’t, as they say, tell a book by its cover!
I was reading about domestic violence, Travelrat, and there are many cases reported of the men in the relationship being abused. I guess we don’t usually think of it in those terms but I suppose some women can be just as violent and aggressive as men. You really can’t judge a book by its cover, that’s for sure!
So many people are subject to verbal, physical and psychological abuse in what is supposed to be a safe, loving place – a marriage, a home – it’s appalling.
It’s wonderful that these women are there to provide support and strength to one another. And that they have invited you into their circle of trust.
It’s awful, isn’t it, Bluebee? To feel unsafe in your own home is just not right. If only more people had the support they need. I dream of such a scenario unfolding!
Such an inspiring post. And it shows what can happen when we get together. If you’re not finding support – for whatever reason – look somewhere else.
Getting together is the key, Jen. What has struck me about this experience is how willing so many people are to help. It’s inspiring!