"When you recognize that the person you’re living with is not the person you thought he was, you need to treat it like a 5-alarm fire. It is serious business. You can always walk it back later, but you set up your safety at a level 10. Many counselors, therapists, clergy don’t want to ring the alarm yet. They (convey), 'Oh it’s not that big of a deal. We don’t want the worst-case scenario.' The worst-case scenario in their mind is divorce. They don’t realize that the victim is already living in the worst-case scenario: an abusive relationship. You’ve got to get her out of that first. Then figure it out."Anne Blythe, Founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery
Therapists, clergy, friends, and family may tell victims to stay in the abusive relationship for a period of time before setting appropriate boundaries for safety.
This is often said in terms of, "Don't make any hasty decisions." Or, "You're too upset right now. Just calm down and let things settle before making any big decisions." Or, "Just wait and see what he does."
This misguided and dangerous counsel can be devastating and even life-threatening. For Kelly Vogler, courageous advocate against abuse and guest on the Betrayal Trauma Recovery Podcast, this was the case. Tune in to Kelly's episode to hear her harrowing story of abuse, empowerment, healing, and advocacy on the BTR podcast.
Safety, Support, Self-Care: What Emotional Abuse Victims Need
At BTR, we firmly stand behind the time-tested truth that women must get to safety, find support, establish self-care, then make decisions about the future of the relationship.
It's very simple. Women deserve to be safe.
They deserve to be respected.
They deserve to be spiritually, mentally and physically healthy.
When a woman is abused in any way, to any degree, her safety is compromised and often decimated.
Counseling her to stay in an unsafe situation and "work things out" with her abuser is asking her to continue to have her mind and body literally torn apart. It makes zero sense.
Safety From Emotional Abuse First... Then Relational Decisions
Many women find that once they are physically and emotionally safe, they're equipped to find the support they need to set appropriate boundaries.
Boundaries protect women from abuse.
When appropriate boundaries are set and maintained, women are able to make decisions about the relationship: reconciliation with boundaries, separation, divorce, or other options are available to her - and she is able to see them clearly, without coercion, "the fog of abuse", or the shame that often accompanies abuse victims who don't have proper support and empowerment.
It’s humiliating. For me, I'd always thought that women in abusive marriages were those who grew up in a poor family environment, where they didn’t have love, stability, and security from a young age, which was not at all the case for me. I always just had that picture in my mind, I guess. Maybe they were weaker and that’s why they stayed, and they didn’t leave, and things like that. Kelly Vogler,