The silence of abuse destroyed my ability to end the abuse in my marriage. I maintained my silence for many reasons, all of which made sense to me at the time. From a feeling of loyalty to feelings of fear, reaching out for help became harder and harder to imagine. I didn’t open myself to help for almost 18 years. The effects of my silence include Major Depressive Disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder plus other mental and emotional side-effects. I wish I’d asked for help after his first physically violent outburst.
Recently I met a beautiful woman. Her name is Iviana Bynum, and she is a mentor, author, speaker, and life coach for women. She explains the unhealthy silence of abuse, how the abuser maintains it, how it affects you, and what you can do for help. Read to the end for a special gift! Here’s Iviana:
When I was 15, I had a very jealous boyfriend. We only dated for a couple of months but the signs were clear that he was controlling, manipulative, and jealous. Since he was a very popular guy, I stayed quiet about his actions against me. Not far into the relationship, he approached me one Friday afternoon, punched me, and accused me of being unfaithful. My immediate reaction was to break up with him. I told no one about the event.
The following Monday, there was no school. I was home alone and there was a knock on the door. I saw that it was my ex and opened the door. He told me to come with him because he wanted to talk. I asked, “Why can’t we talk here?” He responded that we couldn’t and had to go back to his house. Wearily, I agreed, grabbed my cellphone and my coat and told no one where I was going.
We made it to his house where his cousin guarded the downstairs door. He told his cousin to stay there, brought me upstairs to his room, and proceeded to question me about my faithfulness to him. Although I told the truth and denied being unfaithful to him, he beat me and raped me. I ran away with no shoes, no coat in the blistering cold, and no cell phone.
I stayed silent about the situation for days and hid the bruises on my face with my long hair. I went to school and rumors had begun where he was accusing me of horrible things and threatening to have me beat up. It was all to keep me quiet about what had happened and it worked. Days passed and finally my mother noticed my bruises. When I finally told her, I still refused to press charges. Why? Because I was afraid. I was afraid of my reputation. I was afraid that he would keep his word on his threats. I was afraid that something would happen again. I also did not want to hurt him, despite what he did to me.
Why do I tell that story? Because it was the consequence of me keeping my silence. It completely worked against me.
How They May Be Keeping You Silent
When someone is abusing you, they know they are in the wrong. That’s why it is in their best interest for you to stay quiet. Here are some methods that they will use to keep you silent:
- They isolate you. An abuser will try to keep you away from family, friends, and even school or work.
- They directly tell you not to tell anyone what’s going on.
- They manipulate you by constantly making you feel bad about what they did. They may be very apologetic about their actions – although they will do it again.
- They threaten to hurt you or themselves if you try to leave them or tell them that you are going to tell someone.
- They fill you with fear and reinforce the fear through threats, physical and mental intimidation, and spreading rumors about you.
How The Silence of Abuse Affects You
When you are being abused and you keep silent, there can be adverse affects. Some are potentially dangerous.
- The risk of something bad happening and no one knows where you are or what you are going through.
- Depression may set in from the pain endured in your silence.
- Holding it all in due to fear or belief that no one will understand your situation.
- Drawing your own conclusions – When you keep silent, you may not be able understand what is happening. Talking to someone can help you make the situation clear so that you can understand what needs to be done for your well-being.
What You Can Do To Change It
Although you may be in a position where you feel hopeless, there are options for you.
- Be confident – An abusers actions are done to make you feel insecure. Don’t believe the lies. Set boundaries for what you will and will not allow.
- Find someone you trust. If you don’t feel like there’s anyone to trust, reach out to a domestic violence hotline.
- Don’t be afraid of what people think.
- Always let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return – stay as safe as you can always.
- Don’t keep your situation a secret.
- Trust your instinct - You’d be amazed at the answers that you find within you.
- Do what you can to leave the relationship.
- Most important, know that you can’t change anyone. Many of us end up in abusive relationships because something in our mind causes us to have the desire to “fix” people. We think that the person will change or that we can help change them. Realize that we can’t. It is too much of a burden and responsibility for us to bare.
Speaking up is never the easy option for anyone. However, it is the necessary option if you find yourself in a situation where you are being abused. The first step is to tell someone that you trust. You have the strength within you to take control of your situation and move on toward a safer, more joyful life.
About The Author, Iviana Bynum
Iviana serves as mentor for women who are going through transition in relationships, life, and business. She inspires them to overcome obstacles that involve past traumas, unhealthy relationships, and more. She is also an author, speaker, and life coach to women of all ages by helping them find new purpose.
Download her free ebook 3 Days to Overcome: Get Off Your Butt & Stop Feeling Sorry For Yourself – A simple guide to overcoming sadness and overwhelm by taking charge of your circumstances and changing your perspectives.
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