Monday, 3 December 2012

A friend indeed

I am usually in bed by 10pm but last night, I was up chatting with a friend. She was fuming because someone she knows is constantly being beaten up by the husband.

My friend wants to help badly, so she sought my advice. I'm not one to advocate divorce but in a situation like this, it is obvious that this victim should leave asap.

If she has kids, it is even more important for her to remove the kids from the abusive environment. Kids are very sensitive. You can't hide the simmering tensions at home from them. And they remember more than you think they do.

While it is clear to us that she needs help, the victim is often in denial. Many women end up suffering in silence, thinking they're destined to live a life like that. According to my friend who has an understanding of the victimised psyche, there is a degree of learned helplessness that needs to be reversed. It's like the abused animal that is afraid of leaving the cage.

I agree with her because I've been there before. Amidst all the abuse, threats and harrassment, it actually took a lot of courage for me to walk out the door. What if the threats were real, what would happen to the kids?  Will we be safe? Will I be able to walk in the streets with my head held high? So many questions and fears kept clouding my mind.

Seeing that I needed help, a friend dragged me to her lawyer to start the divorce proceedings. I almost hated her for it but now I think it was the best thing she had done. She saved me and the kids from a life of misery and despair. Her one act gave me my life back.

Even then, I was reluctant to proceed. The paperwork was ready but I was not. I told my friend and  lawyer to hold on. They shook their heads in disbelief. I was mentally weak. I felt sorry for the one who was making my life a living hell. When the abuse got from bad to worse, I bit the bullet and gave the lawyer the green light. Finally I was on the right track.

That was just the beginning. The ex wouldn't let go. He put up a big fight. Several times, I almost lost my mind and gave up fighting for custody of the kids. Thankfully I had strong support from friends and family. Without them, my life would be in a mess.

All this is behind me now and I don't like to bring it up but I must because there are women out there who need help and support. It was hard for my friend to believe that I lacked courage. To her, I'm a brave, outspoken and capable woman who can handle anything that comes my way. Yes, I only flourished when I came out of that cage.

When you are in an abusive relationship, whether physical, mental or emotional, you lose your sense of identity. You live in fear. You're treading on eggshells because you never know what will trigger your partner off. You envy your friends and you grief in private.

Even dynamic and successful women at work could return home to abusive spouses. Not all marriages work and if it fails, there is no shame in ending it. Everyone deserves a better life.

And yes, there is life after divorce and you have to believe in it. Divorce is a process that will take you through  phases of grief, loss, pain and then stability. You don't have to look very far to see how many divorced women are thriving with a renewed sense of purpose and enjoyment.

I warned my friend to be prepared to face resistance and hostility. She's expecting that but she's willing to risk getting bitten first. I'm sure she will be appreciated later. What a true friend to have.


Open Kitchen Concept said...

Dear Ting, thanks for sharing! What you say is very true and courage to do the right thing really gives you and your children a much better life! :)

Celine said...

Wow thanks for sharing this vulnerable part of your life. Women who have never been in any abusive relationship find it difficult to understand why another woman stays in one.

The crux for me is also the children, or if there are none, then imagine if my daughter (someone female and young I have to protect) is in this situation. If one can tahan the abuse for oneself, but not for a daughter... then tis time to be out.

Wen-ai said...

Thanks for sharing Ting. I understand too because my mother was in a similar situation and I was once the poor kid who hid under the blanket while holding my baby brother whenever my parents fought. I admire my mother for the courage to walk out of the abusive marriage with 3 young children. Yes, life was tough at first, but we all survived and I believe my mother made the right decision then.

Blur Ting said...

OKC - Yes courage, and the unfailing support of people around me.

Blur Ting said...

Celine - You are right. We never think about our parents and their feelings until we become one ourselves.

Blur Ting said...

Wen-ai - Yes, your mom did the right thing and I imagine during her days it must have been even harder for her to do so.

Strangely many women think that they're doing the right thing by hanging on to the marriage for the children's sake but it is the wrong environment to bring the kids up in. It is important for kids to see their parents loving and happy, not fighting all the time.

Malar said...

This is eye opener post for all the women suffering in silence!

The World According To Me said...

I hope your friend's friend finds the courage that you did.
I too have been through a divorce, I was not abused but there was a tonne of problems which I won't go into. Divorce can be hard at the time but I've remarried and I could not be happier.
I'm glad you've found happiness too and I wish the same for the mentioned friend's friend.

Blur Ting said...

Malar - Yes, there are many such cases.

Blur Ting said...

World - You're a good case study of a better life after divorce!