Step 2: Build A Support Team
2. Build A Support Team
One of the most common methods that an abuser uses to take control is through isolation. When you become dependent upon your abuser – whether for finances, companionship, interaction, or anything else – that gives them a level of control over you. The more isolated you are from everyone else, the more you need them, which gives them control over you.
To escape your abuser and start your new, independent life, you need to do the opposite of isolating yourself; you need to build a support team. Many victims have such a strong desire to escape dependency that they try to do everything on their own without any help. However, there is a difference between dependency and community. Having a community helping you will maximize your success.
There is also a lot of shame experienced by victims of domestic violence and they are afraid to reach out for help. There are so many individuals that can’t wait to help you or have traveled in your shoes. Helping you is also part of their recovery journey. Don’t be ashamed to ask for help.
A good support team should have eight different roles being filled. Working with these professionals and individuals will move you to becoming the best version of you in the best way. Nothing will be easy, but a good support team makes it easier. Many of these individuals will overlap and fill similar roles at times, but each plays a vital part. As a friend of ours says, you need your tribe to thrive!
i. An advocate is a specially trained individual with experience dealing with domestic abusers. The advocate is often someone who has been through domestic violence themselves and can provide you with their first-hand experience of dealing with and overcoming domestic violence. They will be a guide and support you throughout the process.
i. Domestic violence is the ultimate betrayal by the person who was always supposed to put you before themselves. Domestic violence is an abandonment of you in the cruelest of ways – with neglect and harm caused intentionally. Divorce is the death of a marriage and relationship. Even if that is necessary for your health and safety, it’s still a reality you’ll need to process and grieve. To heal and move forward, you will need the assistance of a counselor and professional help, potentially for years.
ii. Know that seeing a counselor does not mean in any way that you are responsible for what happened to you or that you caused it. If you were rear-ended and broke your arm, you’d still go see a doctor to get treatment and get it fixed even though it’s not your fault. Counseling is no different. It’s not your fault but there is trauma that has occurred and to become independent, you need to process that.
iii. You’ll want to find someone who is experienced in helping victims of domestic violence and can help with your healing process.
i. Years of trauma causes mental and physical scars. Emotional strain has been shown to have physical effects. Medical professionals can provide short-term or long-term medication and assistance and it’s important to have someone you trust helping with your care.
D. Children’s Counselor
i. Like you, your children will also need to process not only any domestic violence that they personally experienced or witnessed, but they will also need to process the separation of their parents.
ii. You should find someone who treats children of their ages, is in a different practice than your counselor, has experience with domestic violence and is trained in trauma, and who is willing to testify in court proceedings. A counselor is going to be one of the best court advocates for your child but if they aren’t willing to testify, you can’t get that benefit.
i. The difference for your case between having the right lawyer and the wrong lawyer is night and day; not to mention tens of thousands of dollars, if not more. Having the right lawyer handling your case is vital as you move through the legal system. In our next post, we’ll go much more into detail about how to find the right lawyer.
i. After years of isolation, many victims have few friends and don’t have good relationships outside of their family. What you will discover, is that many of those friends you used to have will still be there and were seeing the red flags long before you admitted them to yourself. Those old friends, or new ones, can be there to talk to you, help you process emotions, be objective when you can’t think straight, figure out next steps, make you dinners, and be your safe house. Building that network is part of becoming the new and independent you.
G. Financial Adviser
i. Many victims have long suffered under complete financial control. With your independence comes the responsibility to make a budget, set up your investments, file taxes, and determine which financial paths are best for moving forward. Having someone knowledgeable and experienced as part of your team making those decisions is vital to your financial future.
H. Support Group
i. You are not alone! Statistically, around 1 in 4 women (and it’s probably higher) experiences domestic violence. Finding and building relationships with those going through the same process is a major part of your healing process. There are a number of excellent support groups for victims of domestic violence locally and getting plugged into one of those will speed you down the road to independence.
Please contact us for referral lists and for more information. Keep checking back for the next posts in this series.