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Should I Stay or Should I Go: Part Two

should i stay or should i go

Hi, it’s Sunshine again. It has been quite a while since my first post on Should I Stay or Should I Go? went up. I ended that post with this word: Codependence.

It’s Embarrassing.

And frightening and a lot of other hard, negative “ing” words. I was out. Reach Out Speak Out helped me get out. And I went back. And I feel like anything I do is going to hurt somebody or make somebody else mad and it’s my responsibility to keep everybody happy.

Right?

I did some work with a wonderful counselor while I was away. I learned about codependence. Melody Beattie is the most recognized popular author on codependency with her work on Codependent No More. Stephanie Ellis Ecke has written on codependence here. Pia Mellody also did groundbreaking work and this infographic from here is pretty handy: Pia Mellody on Codependency (click to download)

I’m including all of these links because when I first realized (and accepted!) that I’m a codependent personality, it was like a lightning strike. I could accept all of the “A” programs that I might need, but CoDA (Codependents Anonymous)? REALLY?

I am strong and tough. I’ve withstood much. I haven’t stopped loving people. Wanting the best for them. Trying to make the best happen for them… and that’s where the train begins to go off the rails. There’s nothing wrong with wanting the people in your life to be happy and healthy, but that “trying to make the best happen for them…” Yowser.

Especially when that means staying with someone who isn’t safe — whether that is unsafe to your body, your heart, your mind.

Signs of Codependency

Here are 10 signs of codependency.

1. Feeling responsible for solving others’ problems.
2. Offering advice to others whether it is asked for or not.
3. Expecting others to do what the codependent says.
4. The codependent feels used and underappreciated.
5. Trying to please people so others will like or love the codependent.
6. Taking everything personally.
7. Feeling like a victim.
8. Using manipulation, shame, or guilt to control others’ behavior.
9. Lying to themselves and making excuses for others’ bad behavior.
10. Fearing rejection and being unlovable. 

The article in the link goes more in-depth about these things and also covers 10 questions to ask about codependent behavior.

I’m raising this issue of codependency because a) it is a part of my overall story and, b) while I am not a therapist or counselor, and there is some dissension about whether those who suffer domestic abuse are codependent, I have lived with domestic abuse and I am codependent. And I’m not alone. I have met many codependent women, many abused women, and there is blurring of the lines.

It becomes nearly impossible to make a decision.

And I desperately want the readers here to not give up hope on the women who go back again and again and again as they strengthen themselves for that final break.  I was rescued. And I went back. And I have regretted it a million times. Sometimes, we just have to have time to strengthen ourselves a little more. And, sadly, life with the abuser is familiar. And most of us crave the familiar.

Please don’t give up on the women you know who need to get out and just haven’t been able to find the strength yet. They are likely fighting battles you can’t imagine. Please be there for them. Listen without judging. Don’t “should” on them (you should do this, you should do that); they get enough of that from their partner.

Please help fund the efforts of groups like Reach Out Speak Out. One day, your friend or relative will be ready. You’ll want them to have support and help.

I will try to write soon to circle this around to a close. I’m sorry I rambled. This is the life we live, thoughts circling around. This is why Reach Out Speak Out is so valuable! They’ve been there. They get it.

Should I Stay or Should I Go: Part One

should i stay or should i go

Hi, I’m Sunshine. I have struggled for a couple of decades with “Should I stay or should I go?” I was a client of Reach Out Speak Out and then I wasn’t. This is my story, which I tell in hopes that potential donors and the public at large might understand how difficult it is to make the decision to leave. My story rambles because that is how my life has been.  I am planning it to run for the month of May so please say tuned. 

Is This Abuse?

I’ve been married twice. My first husband died. I never thought of myself as being abused. After my husband’s death, my children (who were more grown-ups than children at that point) told me that I had been an abused wife. Never physically. Well, maybe one time. No. Twice. Anyway. I pushed him past the point of him holding his temper. Of course.

He was verbally and emotionally abusive in many ways. There were a lot of reasons to stay. The kids. He was disabled and needed me to help take care of him. I was financially dependent. God hates divorce. The only reason to leave was that I was just unhappy. And using some really unhealthy behaviors to manage. You don’t break up a marriage, leave a good man when his health is failing, because you’re unhappy.

Right?

Here I Go Again

My husband died. I struggled with being both alone and lonely. Suddenly a single parent. After almost 3 years, I met someone. I just wanted someone to hang out with. I thought. This man made me laugh more than I ever had. He had been through some similar life situations as me and we were about the same age so we had a lot of cultural stuff in common, which was nice. My first husband had been 16 years older and, in terms of music/movies/TV, we were quite different. But we laughed and I wasn’t so lonely anymore.

There were red flags. Big ones.

FLASHING RED GIANT BIG FLAGS.

I believe that you can tell a lot about someone by how they treat people like waitstaff, customer service clerks, other drivers. Does the person try to be kind? Put themselves in the other person’s shoes? That kind of thing.

NewGuy didn’t. Not empathetic or compassionate. Unkind.  Judgmental.  He didn’t like my kids or most of my friends and they didn’t like him.

I overheard conversations he had with other people that indicated that he enjoyed me spending my money on him.

He told me he didn’t find me particularly attractive.  

He corrected the way I talk. He tried to change my beliefs.

He tried to tell me how I should raise my kids. To be fair to him, a lot of people were doing that. But he wasn’t kind about it.

I still was so in dread — not just afraid but in DREAD –of being alone that I turned a blind eye to all of it. Lost a friend (at least for a while.) Damaged my relationship with my kids.

Heard over and over that I couldn’t, I wasn’t able, I should do it this way, etc. I started to believe it.

But I needed the companionship. Alone was worse than all of that. Besides, he didn’t hit me, so it wasn’t abuse. Right?

Right????

Codependence.

More to come next week…

LONG LASTING EFFECTS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

A Different Point of View:
I became involved in Reach Out Speak Out because I know firsthand the long-lasting effects of domestic violence.  I am the male spouse of a domestic violence survivor.  I say male spouse as a matter of context only as I am certainly aware that males can and be victims as well.  My wife of 30+ years was in a domestic violence relationship during high school and several years after high school.  Yes, it can and does start that early.  Her abuser did terrible things to her.  He was not only verbally and physically abusive but was also psychologically abusive.  She shared a story with me, a re-occurring one at that where her abuser, while raging over something petty would drive his vehicle at a high rate of speed toward fixed objects like telephone poles and mailboxes.  He would always swerve out of the way at the last minute, but at the time she didn’t know if that’s what he would do.  He would also drive at extremely high rates of speed on the highway and slam on his brakes or would get into road rage situations with other motorists and tailgate them.  Can you imagine the effects this has on a teenaged girl?  She has told me that as a result of this abuse she dreams, or should I say nightmares that she will die in a traffic crash. 

To this day, 30+ years later my wonderful wife is still deathly afraid to drive on the highway.  She is as nervous as a cat even when I drive on the highway.  So much so that if we are going somewhere close by and have an option to take the highway or talk surface roads, she prefers to take the surface roads.  Of course, I tell her I’ll take whichever route she wants me to take.

I could go on and on and provide many other examples of how her domestic violence has had a lasting effect on her.  It breaks my heart.  The bottom line is that if you find yourself in a relationship where your partner was the victim of domestic violence, please, please listen to their story and have compassion.  Your love and understanding may heal those wounds but keep in mind it may last a lifetime.     

GIVING TO OTHERS MAKES A DIFFERENCE IN THIS WORLD

Our family has always been a charitable family.  I was taught at a young age no matter what you think someone always has it worse than you.  Just read the paper or watch the news each day.  Violence, diseases, and sickness make up most of what we see and read.

There is a saying that goes like this:

If you and group of people threw all your problems in a pile, after reading them you would take yours back because theirs are just as bad if not worse than yours.  Also, you do not know what happens in my house and I do not know what happens in your house.

I really believe this is true as I have witnessed so many others suffering whether it is from child abuse, domestic violence, or some other form of abuse. 

When I began to get involved with Reach Out Speak Out, I really didn’t realize the extraordinary need for faith-based people to come together to end the cycle of domestic abuse.  I’m astonished that some religions suggest that when you get married, no matter what happens, you cannot leave your spouse.  Obviously, this is not the case, and God would never want someone to be abused for any reason. 

When I was a victim of domestic violence, my devout Irish Catholic mother was my number one advocate.  She did everything in her power to make me see that this was not right, and I needed to get away.  It took more than a year, but she never gave up and was finally able to break the cycle.  So many others are either alone or afraid to leave.  Getting involved is so important in breaking the cycle of domestic abuse and getting the help these victims need.  Remember someone always has it worse off than you do.

Warning Signs

STOP - Warning Signs of DV

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU SEE WARNING SIGNS AGAINST YOUR DAUGHTER?

Being the victim of domestic violence makes you very sensitive to the warning signs that others might not see.  As a mother, seeing the warning signs against your daughter makes the hair on the back of your neck stand straight up.  Well, that is exactly what happened in my family.  I am the mother of twins, a boy, and a girl.  They are both grown now.  This is relevant because the initial red flag was my daughter’s boyfriend.  Not against my daughter, rather against her twin brother.

We were having a family gathering and the twins were arguing like siblings do.  My son made a joke to his sister which her boyfriend did not like.  In front of the whole family, he started screaming at my son threatening to hit him.  I walked into the room and he was beat red in the face, very angry.  I asked what was going on and he yelled at me as well.  He immediately left the house.  Both my son and daughter were very upset. 

We continued on with the family dinner and a short time later he returned with a big sob story about his past deeds in life and some far-fetched story about his family.   My husband and I explained to him that this behavior was unacceptable and would not be tolerated in our family ever again.  I had many reservations, but I wanted to give him a chance hoping it was an isolated incident.  I continued to see little things that gave me pause throughout the next few months.  Having been a victim myself I was starting to get worried. 

Fast forward to our family vacation that summer when he joined us on vacation.  For a five-day period, there was sign after sign after sign.  My husband and I decided this was a real threat and we had to take a stand.  When we arrived home from vacation, we explained to our daughter that this was not acceptable, and he was no longer welcome in our home.  She was so blind to it she said we only noticed because I had been a victim myself.  She was angry at first and said she would keep seeing him and just not bring him to our house.  He even called my husband telling him that he had disrespecting him.  She tried this for a week or two but then began seeing the signs herself and left the relationship. 

I am happy to report she is now very happily married to a wonderful man that we have great confidence will make her happy for the rest of her life. 

Getting Involved

Getting Involved

I began getting involved in Reach Out Speak Out about five or six years ago.   Full disclosure Jan, the founder, is my cousin.  Unfortunately like many others it was close to my heart having been the victim of domestic violence myself.  Thankfully, with the help of my family I was able to leave the situation and move on to have a wonderful life with my husband and three children.  Although I moved on, the scars never go away.  Most people do not understand that part of it.  It lasts forever.  The simplest things can remind you of the past.

I was very open with my children about my past history of being a victim domestic violence.  I wanted them to know the warning signs and be prepared if they were ever in the same situation.

I Began With…

I began with a family gift card drive for Reach Out Speak Out every Christmas.  My children were all in high school and had jobs.  I explained to them about the importance of the charity, and they became willing participants in the gift card drive.  You would think it took some prodding, but I must say they would be the ones who’d end up saying when are we sending the gift cards to Reach Out Speak Out.  Now as my children get older and get married and become more established in their lives, they have really taken their role in the charity very seriously.    They have involved their significant others and their families as well.  They all understand the importance of helping people get out of these situations and getting their lives back on track.  So now we do the family/extended family gift card drive and we also contribute to the Purple Passion by contributing to the gift baskets that get raffled off.  I think this year we sent 6 or 7 baskets to help our friends in need.  I even got my boss involved by paying the FedEx cost to ship the baskets as I live in Cleveland, Ohio.

Victims Need Help

Victims of domestic violence are often unable to help themselves.  My family and I are proud to be able to assist them by giving to Reach Out Speak Out.

 

YOU

If there is a most important word in the previous blog it’s the word “you.”

23 “Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it–not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.” James1:23-25 (NIV)

The only person that can truly put the problems and bad memories of the past behind you is YOU.  Counseling, reaching out for help are all positives, but it is you and you alone that have to make the choice to move forward and to move with a new purpose and attitude adjustment.  No one can do this for you.

5” For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter1:5-8 (NIV)

The old saying of “actions speak louder than words” is certainly applicable when you are trying to make changes in your life.  It is one thing to talk about it, or even to decide that change is necessary, but until you put action to your words, they are nothing more than words and promises.

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Luke 11:9 (NIV)

Again, this is where the word “you” comes in.  No one can do this for you.  They can tell you their opinion, they can tell you what they think you should do, but it is up to YOU to take action.  The first step may be the hardest, but you have to take that first step before you can get to the second step of a new Springtime and a new beginning.

14 “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” James 2:14-17 (NIV)

 

Spring and New Beginnings

Spring and New Beginnings

Spring is the time of year when we think about new beginnings.  Leaves are coming back to the trees, the weather gets a little warmer, birds come back from their winter hibernating and there’s a freshness in the air.  When you recognize that you no longer have to live with the things that may have haunted you in the past.

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:18-19 (NIV)

It’s like you are transitioning your mindset from winter to spring!

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”  2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)

 

Things of the past are behind you, it may have been a tough winter for you, but hope springs eternal when you look at moving forward and making spring your starting point towards a life that is free from all of the chains and bad memories of the past.

The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light”. Romans 13:12 (NIV)

YOU DON’T HAVE TO RELIVE THEM ANY MORE!  Focus on what’s ahead rather than what’s behind.  You can’t change the past, but you certainly can change your present and your future.

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 3:13-14 (NIV)

Biblical Guidelines for Dating

couple with Bible

Biblical Guidelines for Dating

Before going out on a date with someone, think about these verses.  If your date does not demonstrate and treat you like the Bible says they should, there shouldn’t be a second date.

1 Corinthians 15:33  (NIV)

33 Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”[a]

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 English Standard Version (ESV)

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[a] it does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Stage 1:  Have you heard anyone say…He’s/she’s great isn’t he/she?  Do you mean they meet the standards above?  Sweet, charming, cute, funny and so loving and I’m really into them. 

Stage2: Does your date say things like… “I’m just saying this because I am jealous of you and I really like you a lot.  I’m becoming obsessed with you.  Don’t get angry but I am not sure I can let go of you. 

(Time to take a look at the motive behind their words and actions.)

Proverbs 4:23 NIV

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

Knowing the warning signs may help you identify a friend or loved one victimized by dating abuse:

  • Intense mood swings
  • Loss of interests in things they used to do with you as a group and things they were interested in before starting to date this person
  • Withdrawal from friends and family and no longer have the time to go out with the group of people they used to hang out with
  • Signs of physical harm or wants to change their appearance or what they do and how they act with words and actions
  • Drug use, alcohol, eating changes
  • Unexplainable fear and withdrawal from talking with you and socializing
  • Sabotage or discontinued use of birth control
  • Sexual activity
  • Won’t return your phone calls, texts, social media but is constantly in contact with the new dating partner

Galatians 5:22-24 English Standard Version (ESV)

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

 

Reach Out Speak Out

www.ReachOutSpeakOutDV@gmail.com

Facebook: @ReachOutSpeakOut

A faith based ministry helping victims of domestic violence within our faith community.

501(3)(C)47-1630804

Dating Violence

DATING VIOLENCE

What if we didn’t wait to tell people about the warning signs of domestic violence when they got married and in a legal arrangement.  What if we educated everyone of the warning signs and what domestic violence is before our children start dating.

  • Did you know one in three teenagers in the United States of America have experienced teenage domestic violence in a dating relationship? (Physical, emotional or verbal)
  • Nearly 1.5 million high school students experience physical abuse from a dating partner in 2019
  • 1 – 10 high school students has been purposefully hit, slapped or physically hurt by a boyfriend/girlfriend
  • 33% of teens who were in an abusive relationship never tell anyone about the abuse
  • 81% of parents believe teen dating violence is not an issue or admit they don’t know if it’s an issue

RESPECT

The definition of respect is….a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.  To admire someone deeply. 

  • Roughly 1.5 million high school students admit to being hit or physically harmed last year by someone they are romantically involved with
  • Teens who suffer dating abuse are subject to long term consequences like alcoholism, eating disorders, promiscuity, thoughts of suicide and violent behaviors.
  • 50% of young people who experience rape and physical abuse will attempt to commit suicide

(Information collected by Domestic Violence Services, Inc. December, 2019)

     Please help us to spread the word to teens about warning signs of domestic violence.

  • More than half of women (69.5%) and men (54.6%) who have been physically or sexually abused, or stalked by a dating partner first experienced abuse between the ages of 11 and 24.
  • 5% of middle school students report having bullied a classmate
  • Female and male students share the same unfortunate state of 1 in 4 high school students that have experienced sexual and physical abuse by a dating partner have seriously contemplated suicide.

PEOPLE WAKE UP THE TIME TO TALK ABOUT ABUSE IS NOW.

Reach Out Speak Out

www.ReachOutSpeakOutDV@gmail.com

Facebook: @ReachOutSpeakOut

A faith based ministry helping victims of domestic violence within our faith community.

501(3)(C)47-1630804

Love Shouldn’t Hurt/Dating Violence

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