Lately, however, the pervasiveness of relationship abuse/domestic violence has come to my attention and it is something that bothers me greatly. Knowing that boys are just as likely to be victims of abuse as are girls and being a mother of currently seven children (two boys and five girls), it scares me to death to think what could happen to them if they don't have the self-esteem and self-worth to adhere to this basic rule.
Over the past sixteen months of being a foster parent, I have learned that so many of the children in foster care have been abused by the people in their lives who were supposed to be protecting them and by others who claimed to love them. I know this type of abuse is not limited to children in foster care, but is prevalent in all aspects of society and in all age brackets.
In my opinion, it takes a sick, twisted individual to make a person think that being abused and told told they are worthless is "love." After so many years of this type of abuse, the abused person starts to believe they don't deserve anything better and can't comprehend real love, the kind that doesn't come with emotional or physical pain. Their hearts and minds want more and want to believe there is more out there, something better, something that brings true happiness, but they honestly don't know how to go about finding it, much less accepting it. Never having experienced this type of abuse myself, it seems strange to think that someone's comfort zone, the place where they feel "safe" and "secure" is in a place where they are physically and/or mentally harmed by the person they love. It boggles my mind to know that it is easier for those that have been abused to allow it to continue, rather than walk away.
After hearing a few first-hand accounts of abuse and watching certain individuals struggling with how to get away from it, or making excuses as to why they should stay, including the most common, "I love him/her" I started searching the internet for information to help me understand this issue a little better. I will never be able to fully understand or accept why anyone would want to stay with their abuser, but I can at least understand the psychology behind it. One good thing I have found in all of my reading is that it is possible for those that have been abused to get away from their abuser(s) and, with the proper professional help and support from those that really love them they can break the cycle. They can heal the emotional and physical wounds, gain self-confidence, self-esteem and move on to lead very happy lives and never allow anyone to abuse them again.
Here are some sites I have found particularly helpful or enlightening:
Teens Experiencing Abusive Relationships:
Center For Relationship Abuse Awareness
Sexual Assault and Relationship Abuse Prevention and Support at Stanford
My hope is that if someone reading this blog is a victim of abuse, or knows of someone who is, these sites and the information they contain will help them to break the cycle and get the help they need. If you know of any other helpful sites or information, please feel free to post them in the comments section.