What to Do

If You or Your Children are Battered


Spousal abuse, although more commonly directed at women is an equal opportunity terror.  Because of the social stigma attached, many suffer in silence. Men especially, if verbally, psychologically or physically abused by their wives will endure the pain in silence; society tells them they are not men if they don't fight back.  Society also says that hitting a woman is wrong.  It's a mixed message and an isolating predicament. The cost is often deadly.

Abusers can be either men or women and are domestic terrorists with a finely targeted agenda designed to inflict pain, psychological damage and fear on those whom they should be protecting and nurturing.

The household becomes a war zone and the casualties are enormous.  Recent events like the Andrea Yates situation illustrate that abuse can have deadly consequences if ignored.  In this case the children were verbally and psychologically abused and the father ignored the signs.  

Five children are dead; murder is the ultimate physical abuse.

Nicole Simpson is another example of an abused spouse whom ultimately paid the highest price.  Like many in her situation, she made excuses or ignored the behavior once the immediate danger had passed.

A person will only take so much abuse before something snaps and he or she fights back.  By the time this happens, little can be done to salvage the situation. Farrah Fawcett's chilling portrayal of the true story of an abused wife in the 1985 film The Burning Bed illustrates what can happen if a person is chronically abused and pushed too far.

Domestic abuse, if left unchecked, never ends in happily ever-after.

Male or female, if you find yourself in a situation where either you or your children are being terrorized emotionally, physically or verbally, here are the steps you need to take NOW to regain and protect your life.

  1. Realize it's not going to get better. If your partner flies into rage, verbally or sexually abuses or batters you or your children, no matter what he or she may say, it isn't your fault, and you have no control over his or her behavior. Even the abuser has very little control. It is not just a one-time incident, it is an indication of a severely disturbed character, and it will not go away without years of intense therapy.
  2. Protect yourself and your children. The best way to do this is to tell the truth to family, friends, your minister, your doctor, your therapist, your co-workers, one of the hotlines listed below, the police and anyone else who will listen. There is no need for you to be ashamed, but there is an urgent need for you to get help. If it seems that no one is listening, consider that you might not be telling the whole truth -- battered spouses have a tendency to downplay and make excuses for the abuse. The best protection for you and your children is for your abuser's behavior to become public knowledge. The vast majority of abusers are cowards, who only prey on dependent, defenseless people. They like to believe they are in control, and they aren't as likely to lose control before witnesses.
  3. Once you have been physically abused, never allow yourself to  be alone with the abuser again. This is another reason to tell everyone you know. You either need a place to go, or someone (perhaps several people) to stay with you until you are safe. You may also need financial help.
  4. If you are hit, call the police (911). They respond much better now than they used to, and the law is now on your side. When they come, press charges. Do not make excuses to yourself or anyone else. If your abuser gets away with it even once, he or she will get more abusive. Do not listen to pleas for sympathy, understanding or forgiveness. You can forgive the abuser after he or she has gotten help, and only after you and your children are safe.
  5. If injured, get medical help. Tell the doctors and nurses the truth about how it happened.
  6. File a restraining order. Volunteers at the police department will help you fill it out. With a
  7. restraining order, you can call the police as soon as the abuser gets close to you or your home. Without one, the police need evidence of the abuse to arrest anyone.
  8. Attend Al-Anon meetings. You will learn a lot of good information that will help you avoid being someone else's victim.

Action Plan

Relationship and support group