Monday, April 20, 2009

A Time to Act Quickly

Denial puts life into slow motion. It slows down our response time--as our filter between ourselves and reality interferes with direct processing.

I remember taking forever once to pour a glass of ice tea, because being in the presence of one of my abusers had me moving like a sloth. I don't know what was said before I went to pour the tea, that information has been forgotten. But I do remember wondering what was wrong with me. Why was I moving so slowly? My subconscious already knew why, but my conscious mind was clueless.

I remember another time of staring at a bruise unable to remember how I got it. That was in the morning. It wasn't until that evening, when I suddenly knew where the bruise came from--my husband had squeezed that spot really hard just the day before. There is nothing wrong with my cognitive skills. The tremendously slow remembering rate was due to the power of my denial rather than the weakness of my mind.

Denial helps protect us from what we are afraid we cannot handle. And generally speaking, denial can melt away at the perfect time--when you are stronger or in a better place to process the facts of the abuse and your feelings about it.

But, if you know someone who is being abused physically by her or his partner and has been threatened by their partner with a weapon or has been delivered a murder threat, time has run out for your friend to move slow. It is time to do everything in your power to get this friend to understand that she/he is in real danger.

Try asking direct questions ("Do you really believe...), share your story of surviving abuse and your recovery journey, help your friend to depersonalize the situation by having her/him think about what he/she would say if you were the one in her/his situation.

Sharing these facts may help you to persuade your friend that the danger is real:
  • In 2000, 1,247 women and 440 men were killed by an intimate partner. In recent years, an intimate partner killed approximately 33% of female murder victims and 4% of male murder victims. [Callie Marie Rennison, U.S. Dep't of Just., NCJ 197838, Bureau of Justice Statistics Crime Data Brief: Intimate Partner Violence, 1993-2001, at 1 (2003), available at]
  • Access to firearms yields a more than five-fold increase in risk of intimate partner homicide when considering other factors of abuse, according to a recent study, suggesting that abusers who possess guns tend to inflict the most severe abuse on their partners. [ Jacquelyn C. Campbell et al., Risk Factors For Femicide in Abusive Relationships: Results From A Multi-Site Case Control Study, 93 Am. J. of Public Health 1089, 1092 (2003), abstract available at]
  • Of females killed with a firearm, almost two-thirds were killed by their intimate partners. The number of females shot and killed by their husband or intimate partner was more than three times higher than the total number murdered by male strangers using all weapons combined in single victim/single offender incidents in 2002. [The Violence Pol'y Ctr., When Men Murder Women: An Analysis of 2002 Homicide Data: Females Murdered by Males in Single Victim/Single Offender Incidents, at 7 (2004), available at]
But, never forget, it is not your job to make another do something. No matter how much you care about this friend you cannot make her/him take quick action. Her/His denial stacks the deck against you, unfortunately. You can try to help, but you cannot protect this friend from her/his choices. Then again, your attempt to help may save a life.


Cynthia said...

Your passion is tempered with love and makes your posts both readable and applicable, I pray that those who are led here will see the wisdom of one who has been where they are, gotten out and survived.

At the end of my ordeal I was pretty well convinced that no one would ever want me if I left him. Ah but God is good. He has abundantly blessed me and healed me of all my pain.

This is a very important blog!

Tanya T. Warrington said...

Twofinches, wow! Thanks for the compliment and prayer.

You've put your finger on such an important point. I too felt convinced that no one would ever want me. I felt ancient and so worthless at first.

And then God did his healing work step by step. I thought for sure I'd never marry again. But in God's timing I did. I've enjoyed a decade now of an abuse free marriage with a man (a normal, imperfect, lovable, loving man) who I adore and who cherishes me. Amazing!

Recommended Books

  • 10 Lifesaving Principles for Women in Difficult Marriages by Karla Downing
  • A Way of Hope by Leslie J. Barner
  • Angry Men and the Women Who Love Them by Paul Hegstrom
  • Battered But Not Broken by Patricia Riddle Gaddis
  • Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
  • Bradshaw on the Family by John Bradshaw
  • Caring Enough to Forgive/Not Forgive by David Augsburger
  • Codependent No More by Melody Beattie
  • Healing the Wounded Heart by Dr. Dan B. Allendar
  • Keeping the Faith: Questions and Answers for the Abused Woman by Marie M. Fortune
  • Perfect Daughters by Robert J. Ackerman, Ph.D.
  • Recovery: A Guide for Adult Children of Alcoholics by Herbert L. Gravitz and Julie D. Bowden
  • Safe People by Dr Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
  • Slay Your Own Dragons by Nancy Good
  • The Cinderella Syndrome by Lee Ezell
  • The Dance of Anger by Harriet Goldhor Lerner, Ph.D.
  • The Search for Significance by Robert S. McGee
  • Turning Fear to Hope by Holly Wagner Green
  • When Violence Comes Home: Help for Victims of Spouse Abuse by Tim Jackson and Jeff Olson
  • Why Does He Do That? by Lundy Bancroft