The first time that you pick up the phone and hear your daughter, friend, sister or mother crying uncontrollably on the other end of the phone line it is to say the very least, unnerving. She will tell you that "they" had a fight and by the end of the conversation she will have settled down and tried to convince you (and herself), "It was not that bad." It is then, that you should be aware, she is in a toxic or potentially abusive relationship.
In your heart you want to believe that the person you just spent Christmas dinner with could never harm her, but something just never felt right about him.
The money that she works for rarely makes sense, they are always broke and he is often "unavailable," for family gatherings. She lies a great deal and she does not seem to be the happy person she once was. She no longer sings, does her hair or makeup and the last time she bought something for herself, she told you not to tell him.
All of your attempts at convincing her to leave him have failed and after the tenth phone call, you have given up hope and resort to praying that someday she will see him for what he really is. You are afraid if you push to hard, you will lose her forever. In the meantime, you hope you won't get "that call" you have been dreading.
If you're lucky,one day she will finally seek help and you direct her to the local abuse shelter. They will tell her almost everything that you and everyone else has been saying. They will describe her current living situation in detail almost as if they were the ones actually living it. Most have lived it, and the patterns of abuse are always the same. Somehow, when the information comes from a perfect stranger, she finally begins to believe it.
There is hope for her, and for you.
Abuse affects everyone; not just the person in the situation.
Acceptance is the first step to moving on, but picking up the pieces of a tattered life is more difficult than it seems because:
The person's credit has usually been destroyed and it takes years to mend
The person's family and friends are often reluctant to get involved for fear the person may go back to the abuser again
The person rarely wants to press charges and you cannot intervene in order to do so
There is often damage to property and personal items that needs replacing
The potential to lose one's current employment is high
Stress can be overwhelming
Relationships with close friends have most likely been severed
The risk of walking away is always potentially dangerous
The loss of self esteem and self worth is unmeasurable
Guilt, embarrassment, heartbreak and other emotions may require some form of therapy
Depression,drug and alcohol abuse, if any, must be dealt with and is quite common in these situations
The emotional and physical scars left behind of an abusive situation are immeasurable. One such factor that is rarely talked about is the financial devastation that abuse can create.
Imagine it's a few months later and your daughter has finally gotten out of this relationship. She seems happier, is starting over and slowing healing.
One day you receive another call and she is crying on the phone, your heart sinks and you cannot breathe. She is explaining that there are going to cut the electricity in her home and she has no way to get to work because her car has been repossessed by the bank. Apparently, he has not paid any of the bills she gave him the money for and worse, they are threatening to take all of her stuff to cover his bills because after all they were living together at the time.
It can, and it does happen.
Calmly ,you say to her, do not worry I am going to call the utility company and make arrangements. When you call, you are told the bill has not been paid in over a year and they are demanding half of the money today or there is nothing they can do.
You are shocked that a huge corporation like Hydro Quebec would not care, they don't and technically, why should they? It is not their concern.
Scrambling, you get the money together, pay her bills, set a budget with her and deal with this set back. Months later, she is doing well financially, has worked hard to keep things this way and everything is going well. That is, until the past comes back to haunt her.
She lost her bank card months ago and innocently she goes to the bank to finally get a new one only to be informed that he passed an empty check through her bank card and it was taken away from her. A vivid reminder of the past damage that he has done. He has stolen from her many times, lied to her and created a mess in her life that she has a hard time to control since it was not her fault. The pain and suffering seems endless and there will always be reminders of this. It is how she deals with it from this moment forward that will make the difference.
She no longer lies and covers for him, she simply fixes it and moves on. She is free!
If you or anyone you love is in an abusive or potentially abusive relationship, seek help from a local abuse centre, they can help steer you in the right direction. Do not wait, get help for your loved one today because this unfortunately is one of the good stories because her family never gave up trying. Most, do not end up this way.
Abuse centres are today's Montreal local heroes and without them many people would still be suffering.
P.S. Men are also victims of abuse by women and other men. Many gay couples are in toxic relationships and experience the exact same thing.
Get help, get out while you can!