Attending domestic violence support groups helped me more than I thought they would. Initially I was skeptical about sharing my experience in person. I caught myself thinking, “My story isn’t nearly as horrible as other people’s. What if I don’t qualify as abused in the group’s eyes?”
“What if they don’t want to help me because I’m not as abused as they’ve been?” I feared judgment by other group members, but that didn’t happen.
Domestic violence support groups have room for everybody. Everyone’s story of abuse is “horrible” because we all understand where you are in your relationship. If you’ve experienced verbal and emotional abuse for a year, group members know where your relationship is headed. If you’ve experienced domestic violence – verbal, mental, emotional, and physical – for 42 years, we know where our relationship is going.
What I Hoped to Accomplish:
I hoped the domestic violence support groups would give me ideas on how to deal with my abusive husband. I didn’t want to leave him for sure, but the idea floated around in my head. Mostly, I needed support while I lived with him in psychoville.
I kept my ears perked for stories about how the other domestic violence support group members “got away.” I tried to figure out how and if I would find it in myself to leave him. A few of them left their abusers some time ago, but they still dealt with the abuse due to their children’s continuing relationship with their father. I listened to those stories carefully.
I received exactly what I was hoping for and a whole lot more! A few of the women took me aside after my first meeting and gave me their phone numbers. They had either left the relationship or had been in “far worse” situations in my judgment.
They helped me to laugh and I learned quickly that laughing at my situation was a huge help. Abusers, when you think about it, are truly ridiculous people. Everything they saw we are, they are. Abusers project their worst fears about themselves onto us and then hate us for representing their fear.
You should find one or more domestic violence support groups today. Commit to going to the next meeting, even if you have to take time off work. You need the kind of support real people with open arms have to offer.
In my local area there are two meetings. One meets at the department of social services and the second meets on the military post. Both occur during normal business hours. But remember, a domestic violence support group only requires two or three people. Perhaps you could get together with friends and hold your own meetings if there isn’t one close.