Q:

I don't want my babies raised like this

Hey Jude, I'm sitting here contemplating whether to call the help line or even the cops. My partner of five years has just assaulted me in front of the kids, I am terrified as to how far he can go. I hesitate to get authorities involved due to the fact that we have two children both under the age of 7 and the eldest is mine from a previous relationship, so he's told me in past arguments that if I ever left him or we broke up he would take my daughter and I love my kids so I would never want to hurt them or put them through hell over custody battles if it came to that.

However after his attack on me in front of them I now realise we already are hurting them and I don't want my babies raised like this but I refuse to be a result from a broken family so I am stuck - literally I can't breathe and am too afraid to do anything like leave him which is what I always think of doing but to who? My support system is not in this country and I am terrified to fly. I don't want to bother family I do have here - more like I am too ashamed to admit we have problems. His own family if I got them involved would tell us to deal with it ourselves. I'm so ashamed to call the cops and I feel trapped, I'm always stressed and so unhappy.

Most of our arguments are over a stupid Xbox game that he's constantly on. I'm left to do all the work and his excuse is that he works all day. I work part time because I am studying, he is so not supportive of my study and always puts me down. Yeah I tend to fuel some of our arguments but it takes two to have children and raise a family, I feel like both mum and dad and I'm so worn out I have no life in me. I don't care how I look anymore, what I wear, nor do I have time for myself so why bother he's got so many threats that involve our daughter about taking her away, if I leave how am I supposed to do anything without harming my children? I always tell him he's the one killing me, I am always sick, stressed and his reckless driving will cause us an accident that will result in grave circumstances. I'm so lost, tired, emotionally drained, I'm literally drowning in my relationship. Please help I don't know what to do!

 


A:

Thank you for writing in and being so honest and sharing what is happening with you. I admire your courage very much, well done.

May I first say that you are not to blame for any of the abuse your partner uses on you, he is choosing to use that behaviour and therefore is completely and totally responsible for it. Whether he will take responsibility for it is another matter so there is no shame in being in this situation, many women find themselves in similar. You are not to blame, this is not your fault.

May I also say that you do not have to do this alone, we have people from various organisations who can help you and support you in whatever you may need. I can understand how hard it must be to have no family here but please know there are other supports that can be offered.

May I talk of your children and say that you are right about how they are being hurt by witnessing these attacks on you. Children are affected by family violence, witnessing it, even being in another room and just hearing it is enough to cause problems. We often hear of women saying they don't want to raise their child/ren without a father and want to keep the family together but where there is family violence occurring and the children are either experiencing or witnessing it does not create a healthy environment and can in some cases do more damage than good.

What is going on in the child's mind, what are they thinking, what beliefs are they taking on board, what fears are they experiencing, what are they doing with that fear? A lot of children have so much going on in their little heads and as a result they are taking on board things that are not ok, not healthy and end up with issues that are not good and can influence them in a negative way for the rest of their lives.. May I suggest that you get some brochures on "the effects of family violence on children" and then you are informed and know all about it.

I would also like to suggest that you contact your local women's refuge, share what is happening with you and they will be able to advise you of what they can offer you. Please know that they will not pressure you or tell you what you should or shouldn't do, they will simply share how they can help you and what services they can offer. They also have facilities where you and your children could go and stay and you can then be in a safe place and can make any decisions from there. The workers at the refuge are very kind, very understanding, and they are trained in this area, so you will be safe and taken care of and whatever your needs are they will help you with that.

They will talk to you about taking out a protection order against your partner which will order him to stay away from you, he will not be allowed to come within a certain distance of you, ring, text - nothing. If he does he will then be in breach of the order and that is an offence. The police are then called to notify of the breach. This order is about trying to keep people safe when there has been family violence. I would like to add that often men (and sometimes women) make threats as a way to control - they know that this threat will scare you so much that you will do whatever they say but please know that it would be very unlikely if your daughter was taken off you, especially if your partner is using violence. This is another reason why it would be good to get a protection order as this would then clearly go in your favour.

We also have social service agencies who offer similar support and they will help you with whatever you and your children need. They too are very understanding and very kind. It may be that you go and see one of their workers and they will listen to you and then together you can decide what you would like to do. They have all sorts of things like one on one counselling for yourself, couple counselling if your partner was willing, counselling for the children, programmes for women, men and children who have witnessed family violence, programmes for women to help build their self esteem.

Again I would like to reiterate that you are not alone, please let us help. If you would like to ring our information line on 0800 456 450 and ask for contact details for the women's refuge in your area or any other social service agencies in your area and give them a call. Once you have made contact you could then ask them for information on children and family violence.

Lastly I would like to suggest that you create a safety plan for yourself and your children if you plan to stay in the relationship or until you decide what to do. A safety plan is a plan where you have some things prearranged such as having a secret place you can go to if you see your partner building up to an attack. A friend's or someone who you trust and will support you and someone you can text or ring no matter what time, day or night, and can go there. You have their number on speed dial, you have a prearranged word or phrase that if you ring and say this they will then immediately know you are in trouble and get you help by ringing the Police or that you are on your way over to them. A safety plan is having some money secretly put away, you and your children's personal documents put away in a secret place, a spare set of car keys, a plan that you have discussed with your children as to what to do if they see an incident building, such as where do they go? What do they do? Do they know the number to ring the Police?

Having all this in place will give a certain amount of peace of mind just knowing you have a plan. I know it may sound dramatic but please know these plans have saved many women and children in the past.

I do know how scary this is, how alone you must be feeling, and I hear you when you say you are lost and emotionally drained so please reach out. There is help there for you, let us help.

I will be thinking of you. Please let me know if you need anything else, I'm here for you and I will help you in any way I can, just write back in.

Jude

 

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