Support Systems are Key to Leaving Successfully
My current life started out with me driving a uHaul in June 2018 through the scorching Southwestern deserts of the US with 2 cats riding next to me and not much of practical value in the back.
But that’s not really even true. The truth is that I would never have gotten to that tear-stained drive without my support system, my friends. They were there when I needed to load up the uHaul with random boxes that I had packed earlier since we were selling the house anyway. When I broke down in hysteria in my bedroom because I realized that I hadn’t packed any clothes. One of my friends just took me downstairs, told me that clothes were replaceable, while I wasn’t and had me load boxes since I was no longer to go in the house.
My other friend had me come to her house, fed me dinner and drove me out of town later that evening. That way she knew I had started on my way and wouldn’t turn around, like I was still thinking of doing. My friend knew that if I stayed in town I might reconsider leaving and suffer the consequences if I went back. So, she gave me a small Stitch stuffed animal told me, “ohana means family and I love you,” made me cry and I followed her a few miles out of town and onto the highway where my new life started.
The truth of the matter is that no one leaves an abusive relationship on their own. There is no clean break. No super badass mama who just picks up one day without planning and help and just walks out the door. It took a whole host of people to help me see what was happening, once I realized that something was wrong. And more people to help me figure out how to get out, how to leave, what I should do.
I had the most basic of plans, and it drove some of the people helping me crazy. But all I knew was that 1.) I had to get the hell out because I was in danger, 2.) I had some money, so I could stay in hotels. That was it. I had no better plan than that. No family to stay with, no place to land. It was terrifying and scary and super dramatic. My life was falling apart and there was no place to go, nowhere to look for help. All of the domestic violence organizations that I found seemed to be focused on helping women leave abusive partners, which is great, but I couldn’t find any resources for after I had left. And since I had a little money, I felt like I didn’t deserve the help. My abuser was lazy at his core so once I was out of the state, I felt like I would be safe and so would my kids.
I didn’t tell people outside of my close circle of friends what was happening because I had no idea how to tell anyone. There was a non-stop amount of noise in my head that included how long I could stay in a hotel, how to support my kids and keep them entertained and what we could eat that day.
The reason I was able to succeed in my crazy half plan was because of the women in my life. When I ran out of money, one of my friends called me to remind me that I could apply for my own credit card, which worked! I talked to various friends daily who reminded me why I left and that I was doing this so that I could have a life that I wanted and to free my children.
I had been so downtrodden after so many years of emotional abuse that it took and will take years for me to heal. But my friends let me know they had my back, I was strong, and I would eventually be okay.
I am incredibly lucky that I have the support system I have. But too many women do not have anyone to fill in that essential need. I have spoken with hundreds of women who have left or are desperate to leave. They have no one who they can safely talk to. No one they can trust and they are unable to go to a shelter for several reasons. The biggest problem is that they need a plan before they leave and support system for after they leave. If they don’t have one before they leave, they are less likely to find one after they leave and therefore even less likely to even try to leave an abusive partner. Let alone succeed in staying on their own.
Emotional abuse is at the core of all partner abuse. Making a woman feel like they have no one, separating them from the support system they do have are key aspects of emotional abuse. Taking women on an emotional roller coaster and constantly feeling emotionally unstable are important for the abuser to solidify their power.
What women who are experiencing partner abuse need is a support system that is there for them where they need it. One that makes them feel heard and lets them now that they are NEVER ALONE.
I created The Soft Landing Society and the GOF app to be the support system that women need so they can make a secure plan to leave and then have a plan for after they leave…A Soft Place to Land.
The app will be available in various countries and will have the tools that women of all family types can use to help them find a way to leave abuse in a way that works for them and makes certain that they and their children are safe.
The Covid Lockdown is an even more needed time to show women that they are supported, that you believe in them, care about them.