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PTSD Survivors Speak: Arming Yourself Against Domestic Violence, Part 1

Posted Oct 20 2010 5:05am

For the past two weeks we have been highlighting Domestic Violence Awareness Month by following domestic violence survivor Cornelia’s tips for healing from domestic violence . This week Cornelia quotes more experts on separating and healing from violent relationships.

Things to think about in building your own internal domestic violence protection system: domestic abuse,

The women’s crisis center of Koblenz offers this advice for how to protect yourself from abusive relationships:

  • Your body is your own! You alone have the right to decide who may touch you how! You have the right to say NO any time! You have the right to get support.
  • In case you set up a meeting with somebody you don’t know that well yet, tell a person you trust and you can get back to on the phone after the actual date.
  • Trust your intuition. Stay true to yourself and do only what you are comfortable with. Don’t do anything you don’t want to do in order to please the guy you are dating.
  • Regardless of what you did and what you did not do, you are not to blame. No way. It’s always the offender who is to be held responsible for any sort of molestation or harassment.

Recommendations for getting free or abusive relationships are based on the writings on Sunny Graff:

“Insults, name-calling and threats are serious indicators of an abusive relationship. Experience has shown that domestic violence increases over time. End the relationship right away at the first warning signs of control or aggressive outbursts. You can’t change the behavior of your partner and as long as you put up with it and stay, he (or she) won’t realize the need to mend their ways. Assign first priority to your safety and your protection from abuse and harm. Every woman has the right to physical, mental and emotional integrity!

In order to get out of an abusive relationship, make a plan beforehand. You can get support. Any woman who is strong enough to survive violence on a routine basis is also strong enough to leave!!!”

(Translation by author.)

The ladies of the Munich women’s center Kofra have also issued a leaflet on the separation from violent partners:

“Save your life! …  But be careful and protect yourself. Violence is never an acceptable part of any relationship. If he hits you, you need to leave him. Battering is in no way forgivable, not even once. Nothing can justify the violent behavior of your husband or boy-friend. Whatever you did, you are not to blame. And it doesn’t matter in any way whether he thinks he is entitled to being violent. Violence has nothing to do with love! Part of loving you is respecting you with all your needs, individual capacities and personal traits. Who really loves you is aware that you are important and valuable! You deserve respect! You are entitled to equal rights and dignity!

Do your rights get abused in your relationship? Do you get subjected to degrading treatment and humiliations that he ‘justifies’ with love? Violence can be lethal! Therefore, it is vital not to make up excuses for it in any way.

Prepare for moving out. After separation you should not enter the apartment or house you lived together without being accompanied and protected by police. Don’t tell him in advance. Don’t let him (or anybody else) talk you into meeting up with him again. If you need be to talk to him in person, do see him only in public and take a person you trust along.

Before notifying community office of your new apartment, make sure to let them know to keep your new address secret and why.“

(Translation by author.)

The lady authors of the brochure against sexual harassment at the University of Regensburg point out as well that it’s essential that women don’t put up with everything in accordance with their girls’ socialization but that they maintain their boundaries and get support:

“Any sort of encroachment is a violation of boundaries and does not respect the wishes, feelings and the will of the abused woman. There are no „less serious“ sorts of infringements that any woman would need to „endure“ and put up with. Anyway, it has become clear that many offenders start being abusive slowly but increase the intensity of their encroachments after breaking down the resistance of the abused woman. The experience of boundary violation (and her right not to put up with it, note by author) is determined by the feelings and perceptions of the abused or harassed woman. Any encroachments offend against her boundaries and she need not put up with either sort. She has the possibility to assert and protect herself. She need not come up with explanations either why a certain kind of behavior gets on her nerves or makes her feel intimidated. It’s also okay for the woman to dare to react with clear rejection or anger.

By the way, the same is true re: friends and acquaintances or people who have a higher position at work or at the university. The danger of gettting disadvantaged for not putting up with abusive incidents often gets overestimated. On the contrary, in many cases, clearly if the woman clearly maintains and upholds her boundaries, she will often get treated more respectfully in the future.“

(Translation by author)

Cornelia is happy to have come free from a  patriarchal, authoritarian-conservative and very abusive subculture where there was a lot of domestic violence and victim blaming. A translator and political scientist, she also has professional experience as an office employee. She has a PhD in Improvements in Stopping Violence Against Women and has helped with the elaboration of the new law against domestic violence in Kosovo. Cornelia finds feminist therapy very helpful.  www.myspace.com/feministladycornelia

The ideas contained in this post solely represent the perspective of the author. To contribute to ‘Survivors Speak’ contact Michele .

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