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Suspect Physical Abuse--What to do?

SharonA 30 Jul 01 - 09:30 AM
GeorgeH 30 Jul 01 - 10:50 AM
JudeL 30 Jul 01 - 11:38 AM
SharonA 30 Jul 01 - 12:38 PM
SharonA 30 Jul 01 - 01:02 PM
Alice 30 Jul 01 - 09:48 PM
GeorgeH 31 Jul 01 - 05:17 AM
SharonA 31 Jul 01 - 11:23 AM
GUEST,A Concerned Friend 31 Jul 01 - 11:38 AM
SharonA 31 Jul 01 - 12:17 PM
SharonA 02 Aug 01 - 05:02 PM
katlaughing 02 Aug 01 - 05:08 PM
Alice 02 Aug 01 - 11:54 PM
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Subject: RE: Suspect Physical Abuse--What to do?
From: SharonA
Date: 30 Jul 01 - 09:30 AM

Concerned Friend, I'm glad to hear (read) that you are taking steps to connect this woman with an organization that can offer help to her. Definitely more dignified (and hopefully more effective!) than saying "Hey, who gave ya the shiner?"

The thing that's been bothering me about the "speak with professionals" route is that, as the type of professional to whom the abused might first turn (as you describe this woman), wouldn't she already know of and have contacts with several organizations that directly aid the abused? I'm not sure that initiating one more professional relationship will help her to open up to this one on a personal level; seems like it would be one more set of people she would keep at a professional distance.

If you haven't already, you may want to consider something along the lines of kat's idea of contacting organizations in a different town or even county (hopefully in a different professional "circle") to help this woman keep her present professional connections intact and make her feel safer from professional ridicule.

Meanwhile, don't give up on her socially. I've read that the techniques you describe by which she isolates herself are typical behavior of the abused and of the depressed (why else would a woman of "great personal dignity" do such an undignified thing as being a consistent no-show?). Let's hope she can break the cycle of abuse before she reaches the point of canceling out on the sorts of professional banquets and galas that she MUST attend for the sake of her career.

SharonA


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Subject: RE: Suspect Physical Abuse--What to do?
From: GeorgeH
Date: 30 Jul 01 - 10:50 AM

SharonA:

I think you risk make the mistake of lumping all "professionals" in together. By my reading, those who've said "talk to the professionals" have been referring to professionals in the area of family abuse. Who will know full well about abuse within professional families, and all the problems of the victim getting herself (or, less often, himself) believed.

And I would still advise approaching the non-statutory professionals in the first place. If the local statutory authorities will take a sympathetic and sensitive approach they will inform you accordingly; equally, if the statutory bodies are likely to be heavy-handed then they will tell you.

Also - I don't think anyone here has suggested doing nothing . . were the issue not so serious I might resent one or two of the comments made here!

George


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Subject: RE: Suspect Physical Abuse--What to do?
From: JudeL
Date: 30 Jul 01 - 11:38 AM

If as you say this woman is a professional who in a work situation she is used to being effective, it may be that she has fallen into the self deluding trap of believing that somehow she should be able to make a difference to his behaviour.
For those who "can't understand why the woman doesn't just walk out", from personal experience:
First comes shock and disbelief (which is actually greater if you came from a loving and supportive family)
Then the believing them when they promise not to do it again ( because you so much want it to be true).
Then the feeling that you should be able to "manage" them better so that they change.
Then because (surprise surprise) you can't change their behaviour, you feel helpless, and by now it's gone on so long that to admit it's happening not only feels like failure , but also people who have never experienced it make you feel like it's your fault for having stayed in the relationship
By now your self esteem (fuelled by the manipulative abuser) has plummetted to the point where you don't feel you can ask for help as it all seems so hopeless (especially as it means admitting that "you let it happen") and if there are kids involved you worry about breaking up the family and about them being "removed from your care as you allowed them to be in a house with a violent person and therefore at risk of direct violence themselves". Finally - yes the situation can only be stopped when the woman choses - usually when they admit that the abuser isn't going to change and they are wasting their life waiting for miracles, that this isn't going to stop unless they stop it by getting out. - - But there is a lot that can be done to help empower the woman to make that choice, even down to simple things by making her aware that she has friends who will be there for her whatever time of day or night she needs them. I was lucky my friends wouldn't allow my ex to isolate me (although he tried very hard and was frequently extreemly rude and nasty to them)
One final thing - physical scars heal a lot faster than the emotional ones, and the emotional effect of being hit means that even when they are not actually using physical violence against you at that moment the awareness of the possibility will be at the back of your mind all the time, colouring your behaviour.
I don't know what set up they have over there but in the UK , shelters and support networks encourage women to describe themselves as "survivors" of abuse rather than use the term "victim" with it's connotations of helplessness.
There are some appauling stats on abuse - I don't know about the states but in the UK on average every three days one woman will be killed by her abusive partner. Unfortunatly abuse is a lot more common than we like to think.
Jude


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Subject: RE: Suspect Physical Abuse--What to do?
From: SharonA
Date: 30 Jul 01 - 12:38 PM

Hi, George –

The various posts above have advocated various types of professionals whom Concerned Friend might consult, both statutory and non-statutory; that's why I collectively referred to them as "professionals" (please, let's not use the term "lumping", given the subject matter here!). My understanding from Concerned Friend's posts is that both the woman in question and her new husband work INDIRECTLY in the area of family abuse, since Friend says "Neither works directly with abuse issues, but, ironically, either one might be the one of first professionals that someone trying to deal with this problem would approach" and "She works closely with most of the agencies mentioned above... --To suggest that she might have this kind of problem is not something that a lot of people would want to deal with--even people who usually deal with this sort of thing--" I take from that statement that this woman usually deals with "this sort of thing" professionally.

Therefore, this woman presumably knows a lot of what "professionals in the area of family abuse" know about "abuse within professional families, and all the problems of the victim getting herself...believed." [quoting from George's post, now]. The problem, as I see it, is not informing this "pro" of her options, but is getting her to open up to family-abuse "pro's" as a victim. Simply introducing her as a consultant or other professional colleague isn't going to make her take off her professional "mask", at least not soon (especially if she finds out later that they were "tipped off", before they'd met her, that she'd been abused! What will THAT do to her self-esteem, I wonder? If 'twere me, I'd feel betrayed... but then, I prefer that my friends come to me with their concerns about my personal life and my welfare, whereas this woman obviously does not).

Also - No, I don't think anyone SUGGESTED doing nothing. It's just that Concerned Friend said (s)he first noticed this woman's bruises and cuts FOUR MONTHS ago, has noticed more since then, and is afraid of what more may happen. Friend seems frustrated by the woman's withdrawal and denial, yet rebuffs some of the suggestions given above. All I meant to say, in answer to those rebuffs, was that Friend should pick SOME course of action and ACT, since it's been four months already since the abuse became obvious! Fortunately, Friend has done so; the effectiveness of the indirect method (s)he chose remains to be seen, but at least (s)he is no longer dropping the subject and hanging back when this tearful, bruised, cut-up woman claims she's "fine"!

SharonA


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Subject: RE: Suspect Physical Abuse--What to do?
From: SharonA
Date: 30 Jul 01 - 01:02 PM

Hi, Jude –

Here in the US, the term "survivor" in preference to "victim" is also encouraged. However, I think that at least some people (myself included – and I am a US citizen) tend to think of a "survivor" as one who's survived a disaster from beginning to end. For example, there were many, many people who were still alive after the Titanic sank, but most of those who were in the icy water died before they were rescued and, therefore, were not considered "survivors" but "victims" just as much as those who sank with the ship.

Likewise, I think of an abuse "survivor" as one whose ongoing ordeal of abuse has found some sort of resolution, if not final ending (i.e. the abused has left the abuser, has a protection order against the abuser, has successfully charged the abuser who is now in jail, etc.). If the abused is alive after a beating and returns for more, I'd consider him or her to be a victim.

SharonA


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Subject: RE: Suspect Physical Abuse--What to do?
From: Alice
Date: 30 Jul 01 - 09:48 PM

I agree with Joe and the others who say contact a shelter for help with this situation. About 20 years ago I was in a realtionship with a man who turned his violent rage against me after we had been together for five years. He had not been violent before that, but once it started, each incident escalated in danger. Everyone else saw him as a soft spoken gentleman, including me, until he started breaking furniture and punching walls, and eventually attacking me... only when there were no other people around to witness it. I thought no one would believe me, and I couldn't believe it myself at first. I was embarassed to tell anyone, because I thought I was too intelligent to be with someone like that! Thank God I didn't marry him, and I could get out of it with a restraining order. What got through to me was to hear from the psychologist (the one my boyfriend went to for counseling) that I could be killed. He described the experience of counseling a domestic abuse couple where the wife and a friend of hers ended up being shot dead by the husband. He regretted not telling the woman to get to a safe place. He regretted not stepping in and taking action to prevent another attack. He saw that I was in danger of being killed (I had been threatened that he would kill me).

It is important that you take some action to advise your friend that she cannot ignore how potentially fatal her situation is. A few years ago, one of my best friends confided in me that his girlfriend had kicked him in the head while he was asleep. I had found a hole punched through the wall in his house, where she had put her fist. She had attacked him in many ways, but he was too embarassed to let anyone know what was going on. She would fly into rages and attack. It is even more difficult for men being attacked in domestic abuse situations to speak up. Realize that it's better to be embarassed than to be dead. It's better to be rejected by your friend after you give her information on abuse, than to go to her funeral. Unfortunately, many people who pursue career and social status are so focussed on that, they would choose risking their life rather than their career or status. She is choosing to be a punching bag and risk her life rather than admit she has to get out of a sick relationship. You and the domestic abuse counselor/shelter in your area have to get through to her somehow. Call the shelter for their assistance.


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Subject: RE: Suspect Physical Abuse--What to do?
From: GeorgeH
Date: 31 Jul 01 - 05:17 AM

SharonA . . Thanks for the clarification; sorry I misunderstood you . .

Regards,

George


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Subject: RE: Suspect Physical Abuse--What to do?
From: SharonA
Date: 31 Jul 01 - 11:23 AM

George: S'okay! I don't think I had been very clear the first time 'round. Part of the problem is that we don't know exactly what this woman's profession is, because of the concern for protecting her identity. Another part of the problem is that I was too busy emoting to compose my statements clearly! Sorry if I confused anyone else.

Alice: Right on! It won't help this woman's standing if she's lying down, dead.

SharonA


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Subject: RE: Suspect Physical Abuse--What to do?
From: GUEST,A Concerned Friend
Date: 31 Jul 01 - 11:38 AM

SharonA--I appreciate your concern, but don't try to read too much into what I have said, since I am being careful not to say anything that will expose the people involved here. I am trying to just convey a sense of what is going on. To reassure you, I am not introducing here to any newprofessionals, not risking exposing her to ridicule, or anything like that, she will strictly be among friends--

Alice said, "You and the domestic abuse counselor/shelter in your area have to get through to her somehow." Well, I have been around for quite a few years, and I know all too well that you can't always get through to people, no matter how important it is. You can talk to some people until your voice goes out, and they will go ahead, full speed at a brick wall. Part of the reason that I put the question here, and have kept my identity concealed is that I have shared things like this with others who were close to the problem, only to have them step in "because I couldn't sit idly by and watch so and so let their life go down the drain"--and guess what? Well, you know what...it just made things worse.

Years ago, a woman who sat across from me in an office pool (remember, before word processors and computers, when people had to type everything, I used to come home with carbon paper on my hands and white out on every outfit!) and she came in one morning with bruises on her face, and a black eye. After a several years of marriage, he lost it. But she only let it happen once. Her brother and her uncle picked her up at lunch, and we never saw her again. Bluto showed up several days later, demanding to know where she was,(and demanding her paycheck) and knocked a couple chairs over. The police were called. So I know that people can and do walk away, if they want to. If they don't, they have some reasons of their own for staying--if physical violence doesn't drive someone away--it is unlikely that a few words are going to make a difference.


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Subject: RE: Suspect Physical Abuse--What to do?
From: SharonA
Date: 31 Jul 01 - 12:17 PM

Sorry. I'm being an alarmist only because I'm alarmed. Fools rush in, and all that.


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Subject: RE: Suspect Physical Abuse--What to do?
From: SharonA
Date: 02 Aug 01 - 05:02 PM

*refresh*

Any news, Concerned Friend? Good news, I hope? (Remember, we panic because we care)


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Subject: RE: Suspect Physical Abuse--What to do?
From: katlaughing
Date: 02 Aug 01 - 05:08 PM

If they don't, they have some reasons of their own for staying--if physical violence doesn't drive someone away--it is unlikely that a few words are going to make a difference.

Sorry, but I must point out that by the time it gets to physical abuse, quite often there has been tremendous emotional and mental abuse, so that the person stays because 1)they think they deserve it 2) they do not see any alternatives and 3) they are afraid to. The most dangerous time for a person who leaves this kind of abuse is immediately after they leave.

If a few words can put a chink in the low self-esteem or offer even a glimmer of hope, then it can help.

Sincerely,

kat


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Subject: RE: Suspect Physical Abuse--What to do?
From: Alice
Date: 02 Aug 01 - 11:54 PM

The right words made a difference for me. They woke me up to know I had the help I needed to end it and get the protection I needed to safely get away.


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Mudcat time: 31 May 5:17 PM EDT

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