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Happy Monday!!  I say that gritting my teeth…I strongly dislike Mondays.  I try to like them, I really do…but I just can’t.  I have the hardest time getting my butt out of bed and to work on Mondays.  I think it’s because I don’t work Fridays so getting a 3 day weekend every week spoils me.  Am I bragging…not at all. I get Fridays off because this job takes so much out of me emotionally that in order to keep from losing it while listening to a victim talk about the horror they experienced, I can only work 4 days a week.  It should be all about them and what they need.  They don’t need me trying to steal the attention with an emotional outburst.  I use my Fridays to see my own counselor and do my grocery shopping.  Oh how I love to grocery shop…it is my personal happy place.  I know…I’m a bit on the weird side, but that’s ok, I’ve embraced it.  It is super important to maintain proper self-care when dealing with victims of trauma.  I need to be at my best in order to give them the support they need and deserve.

Ok, enough about me…today I want to talk about manipulators and batterers.  It is uncanny how similar they all can be.  In my 11 & 1/2 months working as a Victim’s Advocate, I truly believe there is a handbook out there somewhere and all batterers have a copy because they all do the same things.  The sad thing is that their partners cannot even see it’s happening to them.  They are really good at manipulation and control, but they have mastered their craft slowly and gradually.  There is a pattern.  Of course they are great in the beginning…or at least better than the last guy.  They begin to isolate you from those you love…your family, your friends…they make you feel like your friends and family don’t care about you, they don’t want you to be happy.  Or they tell you that your best girlfriend hit on them or that people are just jealous of how happy you are.  You quit your job because he misses you while you’re at work or maybe he wants to take care of you and be a man.  So now you have very few friends, your family doesn’t talk to you, you have no job.  Now he has you right where he wants you.

He begins to use emotional abuse or intimidation to make you feel bad about yourself or scare you.  He puts you down, calls you names, makes you feel guilty when you have a fight.  He tells you that you are the crazy one.  What about that first time he put his hands on you?  Did he tell you how sorry he was and promise that it will never happen again?  Eventually he starts blaming you for everything.  If you wouldn’t do this, I wouldn’t have done that…and you believe him.  You always believe him.

If you have children, he uses them against you.  Threatens to take your kids away or hurt you or them if you don’t do what he asks.  Now that you don’t have a job, you probably don’t have a car either.  He can’t chance you leaving during the day while he’s at work.  He makes you ask for money or takes any money you get.  Now you have no friends, no family, no job, no car, and no money.  But you have your cell phone…or do you?  Does he check your phone?  Does he accuse you of cheating on him?  Do you get in trouble for talking to an old friend or your sister?  Does he take your phone, shut off service or threaten to shut it off?  Does he tell you how lost he will be if you leave him?  How he loves you so much and just can’t live without you?  Does he threaten to commit suicide if you ever leave?  I’m sure he does some if not all of those…the handbook, remember???

Many times abusers will make you do illegal things, like take drugs or steal from stores…then use it against you by threatening to call Child Protective Services or the Police on you.  You know what you need to do, but you can’t.  You have nowhere to go, no money or car to get there and now you are scared he will kill you, kill himself, take your kids, or call the police on you.  You feel stuck so you stay.  You are strong so you put up with it.  But you really don’t have to.

There are places you can go, there are people you can talk to.  You should call the police, but if you aren’t ready for that, there are still people out there waiting to help you.  I know here in my area, there are Women’s Resource Centers.  They have safe homes, they have counselors, they have resources to help get you food, jobs, clothes, an education…they can help you get your life back.  Your life is worth way more than what you are putting up with.  I know you love him and he probably does love you in some messed up kind of way, but you can’t fix him and he doesn’t deserve your love if he is going to treat you that way.

Find your voice and put a stop to the abuse.  Show your kids that they deserve more.  Give them a better role model to learn from.   You need to stand up for yourself and see that you are BEAUTIFUL and that you matter.  Start to believe in yourself again.  It is your voice in your head…use it to remind yourself that you are important and special.  Just because he said it doesn’t mean it is true.  God made you, he loves you, he will help you through.  You got lost along the way, but trust in him and he will get you through.

Dear God, please help those who can’t help themselves.  Please show them that you are their Father, their protector.  Give them the strength and fortitude they so desperately need to stand up for themselves and their children.  Help them to get away from their abuser and take control of their own lives.  Protect them with your heavenly arms and guide them to a safe place, a place to lay their heads without fear, without abuse, without pain.  Lord, show them that there is a better place for them, that there are people who care for them and want to help them.  In your name I pray, Amen.