Time waits for nobody. All we have at the moment is time. Time to take stock of who we are. Time to work out if our life is going in the right direction. In these days where we have been restricted in our movements outside and most likely not going on public transport, we have been staying close to home, perhaps not leaving the garden if we are lucky enough to have one. For many people it has been good to have some forced downtime. I believe strongly that we should have a work/life balance.
For some though it has meant too much time cooped up with an abuser. We know that rates of domestic abuse have rocketed during lockdown. These are people that are too scared for whatever reason to leave the abusive relationships they are in. It may be in thinking there is no support for them, or it may be fear of being found by the abuser, with the repercussions that will follow.
Not all abuse involves violence. A lot can be the mental wearing down of someone’s belief in themselves. I remember a friend telling me she did not like the way my husband spoke to me. It had been going on for so long that I was unaware of it. I remember it being triggered by alcohol too. One of my worst memories was hiding in a car park, too scared to go home. This was before our children came along. Another was hiding in a room of my house trying to make myself look small. Before the children arrived, food would get smashed against walls, my goods would get smashed in temper, never his goods though. I remember going to his parents for help, 1 year into our marriage, to be told “You made your bed, now you must sleep in it”
I am one of the lucky ones. He decided to leave me and I found strength that I had lost in those previous years. I found freedom to be me and grow in a way that was right for me. I’m now in a space where I love my life and love being able to help others.
My one concern as we start to come out of lockdown is that we need to reach those people that are probably more than ever terrorised and scared and feeling at the end of their tether with nowhere to go. We need to make sure that the government puts information where it can be seen as to what help is available for them. We also need to be a listening ear to those of our friends that seem anxious or bruised. Remember not all bruises will be visible and like me, may not include bruises at all. If you have a friend that is struggling, reach out both a hand and an ear. It may frustrate you if the person is not willing to move forward and out of the situation they are in right now. Seeds can be sown and as long as they know you are there for them, the time may come when they take you up on the help offered. I remember my strongest fear was where would I live and how would I support my children? I actually gained more income once we were separated and found my life opened up for the better.
Finally, if you are in this situation, please get outside help. There really is life outside an abusive partnership. Imagine living a life without fear and being able to do what you want to do. Go on, take the first step. Ask for help!