I am always overjoyed when people want to give their advice from personal experience. Julie Federico has written wonderful books for children and worked with schools to help teach children about abuse. Her work is both uplifting and powerful. She is a survivor of domestic violence and she wants to give girls and women currently experiencing or have survived the violence ideas and inspiration and hope to escape the violence and know that there is light at the tunnel and there is help out there:
I was, and still am a victim of domestic violence as I choose to have children with my abuser which sentenced me to and additional 18 years of abuse after the birth of my daughter. The purpose of this blog is to speak truth to women who are in an abusive relationship but who have not had children with their abuser.
First nugget of wisdom: CONGRATULATIONS YOU CAN LIVE THE NEXT 18 YEARS WITHOUT YOUR ABUSER CONTROLLING YOU!! If you follow the following easy steps:
Go out today and buy two forms of reliable birth control. Use this birth control every day, no matter what. This one act of survival is the most important thing you will ever do to save yourself. When having children with an abuser the children become vehicles to carry out his abuse. He will harm them as a way to get back at you. It is very damaging to the children and highly effective at bringing you to knees in tears again and again. So, now that you have your two forms of reliable birth control you will not be going down this road. A better road awaits you. Your future husband, should you choose to leave your abuser and locate him will travel this welcoming road with you. It will not be a road of roses, but it will be a road absent of power, control and manipulation To me this does sounds like a road of roses. But before we get to this point you need to first free yourself from the abuser. It is my opinion that it is never in your best interest to tell an abuser that you are leaving. You will know if you need to leave the city you are currently living in for safety reasons, or if you are dealing with an abuser who can continue to live in the same city with you after you have left him. If you are not living with the abuser good for you. Take three steps forward! You will be well on your way to a better life more quickly than our friends who are living with the abuser.
Immediately get rid of your cell phone and get a new number. Only do this if you are ready to cease contact with the abuser. If you are not ready to do this keep your phone because then it will just costs you more money down the road. One's cell phone is the greatest tracking device that an abuser has. Some people will go as far as to track your location from your cell phone or control you will multiple texts a day. Also hearing your abusers voice on the phone can spell back sliding faster than anything. His games will go something like this, “Oh baby. I am so glad you picked up. I am so, so, so sorry about our last fight. I was really”___________ you fill in the blank for your abusers excuses; stressed, over tired, drunk, high, angry.
He will then continue to make promises that he will never fulfill. It behooves you never to hear his voice again after you have left. With each syllable he speaks he can erode your wall of strength and determination to take a higher road. When you get your new cell number do not give out your number to anyone who will share your new number with him. This may mean that you are out of touch with certain people for awhile. Trust me this is hard, very hard but preferable to reuniting with abuser, having children with him, and watching him severely abuse your sweet, innocent defenseless children.
After you have gotten a new cell phone, and loaded only worthy contacts on your phone, worthy contacts are those who will not share your number with the abuser. Congratulations take yourself out to lunch or dinner and celebrate this success! These are huge steps, do not overlook them and minimize them and say, “Well, it has only been a week that I have not called him.” The first week will be the most difficult ever. It will also be increasingly hard the first time your dishwasher breaks down, you get a flat tire, you get in a car accident or another difficult patch arrives.
This is a risky time for you and your continued safety. Just know up front that these things will happen and when they do, do anything and I mean anything except reach for the phone and call him. You may think to call because once five years ago you needed him and he showed up.
Please do not fall into this trap, instead know that it is, “out there” and will surface at some point. Have many alternate numbers in your phone, do NOT call him. Know that you will get through this.
It will not be easy but it will be easier than having children with this man and have him come to your house every other week to collect the children while he carry's them out of your house while they are screaming bloody murder, “No, we don't want to go. Please Mommy!!!” Still want to reach for your phone? Then imagine him not allowing the children to call you when they go to his house. Imagine a week of summer vacation where you do not hear your children's voices for NINE days and nights. Okay, good, you are doing the right thing! Yes, reach for your running shoes and go out for that jog or walk instead of calling him. Once you have conquered the phone issue:
Begin to reach out to old and new friends that you have put on hold while you were involved with the abuser. Outside relationships are difficult if not impossible when with living with an abuser. Reach out to friends, schedule get together's at the times you know that you will be tempted to call him.
Go to Meetup.com and meet new people who have similar interests to you. It may be hard to remember what you use to enjoy doing before you began to serve the abuser everyday. It may take some time but you will remember with practice what you enjoy.
While you are in this transition phase it is critical that you have a plan for the first time you encounter a time when you need help. Know who you will call and put them on your speed dial. Also please, please keep taking your two reliable forms of birth control everyday. I am not saying that you will return to him, this is strictly a positive precautionary measure.
Please do not fall into the trap that you do not need birth control because you are not with him any longer. Domestic violence shelters are full of children conceived after the first, or second initial split. This is a difficult time for you. Know that it will be difficult, know that there will be days when the pull to call and reconnect with him will be so strong it will catch your breath. Going back to him is a set back, going back to him and getting pregnant the last time you connect can be fatal. Please error on the side of caution, you will thank me later!
Go buy yourself a frilly non practical beautiful dress. This will be your, “freedom dress” it is important to have a symbol that you can touch of your new determined independence. Don't have any money for a department store dress? No worries look into consignment or thrift stores. Bargains abound for the serious dress seeker.
Change is slow at first then in almost no time you will look back and say, “It has been a month since I left him.” One month melts into three, then magically six. Six months is huge! Honor this day with something, anything that makes you happy.
As you begin your new life please take some time to reflect on your past relationship. Know and list what aspects of the relationship that you do not want to replicate. Without this self reflection you could be wired to connect with another abuser. If you do, all hope is not lost. You will also recover from this as well. But it is much easier to learn your triggers and learn about yourself so that you begin to collect healthy relationships instead of damaging ones.
If you remember nothing else from this article remember to not engage in child rearing with an abuser. This will end poorly 100% of the time. We live in communities where birth control is available, please use it. It is the biggest life preserver ever for women in abusive relationships. You can leave him, you can do this! You are a strong, strong women. You will come out on the other side of this, a much happier person.
“You did not lose yourself all at once. You will reclaim yourself one kind act at a time.” Sarah Ban Breathnach
What do you think to Julie's steps? Please leave a comment below.