I am a woman, and I am an atheist.....and have escaped from the abusive relationships of my past and I now want to give back. This is a topic that is "skidded over" through the horrific consequences of religion, but I haven't seen the topic come up recently on TA as it's own separate entity of discussion. My goal around this conversation is for women to come together who either: 

1. Have been in an abusive relationship and escaped,

2. Are currently IN an abusive relationship and don't know what to do and are looking for support, 

3. For any men who are allies who want to add their comments/insights to be able to do so. 

There are lots of resources in many placed in the US, I don't know about the rest of the world, but I think that even still there is a lot of discrepancy and confusion about what domestic violence IS and there's a lot of people who are in abusive relationships that don't think that they are abusive, they just see them as normal. Also there's a lot of misconceptions and myths portrayed by media. I hope together we can blow a hole through all of that and get down to some real truth on the matter, as well as support anyone who may be going through it, to give them a safe place to fall....

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It seems that too often, the message of religion is wide open to being twisted or misused to support an abusive point of view.  Something that gets inside your soul like both religion and an abusive person, may do a lot of damage. 

This is true Simon. This is in part what happened to me. The Bible and the Koran are used to oppress women. If those women are already oppressed due to other influences the combination can be lethal, either metaphorically or literally, or both. One of the dark secrets of abuse is emotional abuse. It is poison and it is in many cases subtle. Some say it's worse than being hit. I don't think I agree with that but it sure does press on you longer because the effects remain long after the abuse is gone and it controls your every move thought and feeling. You only start to wake up after your're out of it to understand exactly how much it affected you.

Circumstantial situation causes many women to stay with their abused partners from what I have seen. Especially if there is a child involved. Some women can't runaway and live independently, some fear they might lose their child forever, some feel that they need to stay to keep the illusion of a "family" for the sake of the child growing up in a "normal loving household"

In other cases it is because of religion. I know in Islam it says if your wife is disrespectful, you can lightly hit her, but can't cause any physical damage or pain that would hurt her. But of course that doesn't stop the losers from abusing that and hurting their wives. Now of course the dogmatic ideology of even being allowed to hit your wife in itself is completely ridiculous.

The biggest things with these things is, the woman needs to feel safe and understand that they can survive on their own without their abusive partner. Once they understand that, they will have the courage to leave away from abusive relationships. We need to educate women on these things. Obviously easier said than done, but it's a start.

Just to add another thing, I personally have never had any experience with men who are abused by their wife, but I'm sure its exists and Im sure the same thing applies to them

Thanks for contributing Adam: I want to tear apart (in a good way) some of what you said :)

Circumstantial situation causes many women to stay with their abused partners from what I have seen. Especially if there is a child involved. 

SO TRUE!!!! One of my BIGGEST fears was leaving my husband because my son is and has always been SO attached to him. Every woman knows that her children need a strong father figure. At the time when I was in the midst of leaving I doubted myself several times but what really helped was remembering what the "experts say..." (the domestic violence hotlines and advocates...LOVE EM'!!!)

1. HE WON'T CHANGE

2. IT WILL GET WORSE

I kept that etched in my brain...ladies, it's true....

In other cases it is because of religion. 

This only adds to the complexity of leaving. Many times religious groups will favor the idea of "therapy" or working on "reconciling." This makes the abuse WORSE! The reason is that the man starts to engage is discussions that revolve around his feelings, as opposed to him learning how to nurture and support is partner. The abuser is abusive because he has an already warped view of himself in comparison to his wife and by feeding his ego it many times backfires into more abuse. The abuser can also use what he hears about his wife in therapy to mentally torture her later.

The biggest things with these things is, the woman needs to feel safe and  understand that they can survive on their own without their abusive partner. 

Being a single mom is hard. It requires that she not only have a stable job, but also be able to juggle her child's need with daycare, illness, buying all the necessities and also the whole idea of having to have visitation with the father once the separation is underway can be daunting. The courts favor the children's best interest but the father also has rights to see their kids, so how do you send your child to an abuser's home to be cared for without being there? Especially when you HAVE to or you could be held in contempt of court. For this reason many women stay just so they can keep tabs on their kids as opposed to having no eye as to what happens to them.

Just to add another thing, I personally have never had any experience with men who are abused by their wife, but I'm sure its exists and Im sure the same thing applies to them.

I grew up in a home where my mother was abusive towards my father (and me). She is still abusive. She will never change. My father was never physically abused, but emotionally and mentally he put up with it until I was 17 and then split. They are friends now as much as they can be, but he put up with it I think for my sake. I hated every minute of growing up in an abusive household and I have a lot of problems I'm working through now because of my mother. Women can be and are just as abusive, so it's not always the man.

glad to hear you are doing well now Bella and that removed yourself from such environment. How is your son doing and is with you now?

Thanks Adam, yah my son is OK. He's had it rough too but he's strong. He'll be OK. Hopefully he won't remember any of the divorce or break up when he's older, it will just be the way things are for him to have 2 homes and not see his dad as much. He's 3, so I don't think his long term memory has kicked in just yet...he's had bouts of aggression and anger and has expressed loss and sadness to me. I've showered him with love and am teaching him to verbalize is feelings and identify them, and own them and be able to express them without fear. I've assured him he's normal and that both his dad and I love him....lots of assurance. It's still very hard on him though. He only sees his dad about 2-3 times a week, and usually only one day a week when it's just the two of them. He's with me most of the time. His dad has been behaving himself but if he starts acting up again I have the legal paperwork to throw the book at him and I WILL do that if necessary. I think that's partially why he's behaving now.

"He's 3"  Hey Belle, I think it will have affected him.  It sounds like you're doing the right things to un-affect him.  I always think that these boys need to be taught to love and respect women first and foremost, and to have a strong figure in their lives so they don't end up running rampant (and blaming women/their mother). 

He needs a strong figure in his life, and that strong figure needs to be you, otherwise there's a good chance that he'll walk all over you, end up as an idiot, have a shit life, and blame you for it. 

I don't want to scare you, but you definitely need to think about this.  [conduct disorder.  There's a link to a BBC documentary here.]  I've seen the results, and they aren't pretty.  From the reading I've done, it can be counteracted by providing the right environment - a healthy bond with the mother. 

Thank you for the information Simon. I am very concerned about him. He hits me sometimes. I think it's remnants of being hit himself. I am very firm with him and consistent with discipline. I do still however struggle a lot with him. I have back problems and sometimes when he fights me he can overpower me even at age 3! Imagine what's going to happen in another year or two. I can barely lift him now because of it. I am in great shape but they say you are only as strong as you're weakest link, which is true. While I am able to lift a lot of weights and I do lots of calisthetics, I don't have the force of strength and the fight I used to to counteract physical blows to my body. I have already been injured by him several times. He's getting better slowly...but it's really hard sometimes. I am thankful for your suggestion and I will watch the documentary and let you know what I think....

So how do you convince someone their relationship looks abusive? Particularly if they live far away? As you said, religion often works to keep people from questioning or trying to escape on their own, and most abusers are very adept at making the abused think all problems are her fault.

So how do you convince someone their relationship looks abusive?

You can't. You cannot convince an abused woman of anything. She must see it for herself. I came to the realization that I was in an abusive relationship while I was a Christian and I was looking for a way out. I have a strong college background in sociology and criminology which I believed helped me see what was really happening and in my own case I sought out help from a domestic violence program on my own. This was the first stepping stone for me. One would think I would have seen it long ago and never gotten myself in such a mess to begin with...it's one thing to know something intellectually, and it's something COMPLETELY different to internalize it for yourself and know that you are worth it and that you deserve better when you are in an abusive relationship. However I do believe that it's important for the men out there who know a woman in this situation to move in close and offer her a helping hand and offer to BE there for her. Offer your time and kind words, and SHOW her what being valuable, and beautiful, and radiant is, however that looks for you, whether it's writing a kind email to her, or taking her to lunch, a woman who is with an abuser will CLING on to anyone who is healthy, looking for a way out and I believe just based on how the mind of an abused woman looks, at least in my case, having support from a male friend can really REALLY go a LONG way towards helping boost her self-esteem and helping her see the possibilities. Not to say that female support isn't important too...it is...but having another MAN's perspective in being able to see what a healthy man really looks like and even more importantly being able to see that men like that actually exist! Is a great way to help a woman without thinking you have to "fix her." She will fix herself once she sees that there are better people who exist, and once she knows that and realizes she deserves better, there's no going back.

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