Oftentimes isolation is discussed in the context of a domestic violent relationship. Isolation is one of the ways that an abuser maintains control, keeping their victim away from family and friends. Isolation also makes the victim feel as if no one cares. It may be subtle in the beginning; the abuser may say that they don’t want to come to a family gathering or night out with friends. Then escalate to not allowing the victim attend such outings or using guilt trips so that the victim will decline. Subsequently, the victim begins to turn down the invitations, until in some cases the invitations stop.
I experienced all of that and more within my relationship. But even after it ended, the isolation seemed to have followed. I was a single mother, in a different State, away from family and friends, 5 children, maintaining a home and work. Just as easily as he had packed up and moved to Las Vegas, NV with me, he had packed up and returned back to CA to live with his mother. Packing up and just leaving to go back to CA was not an option for me. Where would I go? When I left CA, I walked away from everything in an attempt to leave him and the relationship so there was nothing to return to.
I was putting the pieces back together in my life. I reached out to friends and family but speaking on the phone was not the same as the gatherings I had once organized. I was happy that after 7 years the relationship was finally over but I found myself feeling alone. Since I was the sole provider, I spent most of my days working and my nights with my children. I had a hard time developing friendships with people because I just didn’t have the time and a babysitter was not in the budget. The invitations I received to hang out with my co-workers were once again being turned down. I knew that my circumstances could make me vulnerable. I didn’t want to return to the relationship I had fought so hard to leave and I didn’t want to end up in another one just like it.
He made sure not to send child support so that I would not have extra money for ME. So not only was I still dealing with feeling isolated, I was still dealing with financial abuse. I did my best to re-engage myself in some of the hobbies that I had given up. I began writing. I also made an effort to interact more with my peers. I didn’t get to go hang out after work but I made sure that I at least enjoyed their company on my lunch breaks. This was very important in order for me to break away from the isolation that had followed me.
If you are struggling with feelings of being alone, reach out to someone, rekindle old friendships. It may take a lot of effort on your part but it will be worth it. A support system is very important to leaving an abusive relationship. Over the past few weeks, men and women have taken to the internet to share with people “Why they stayed” in their abusive situation. It’s not easy to stand in your truth while the world hides theirs and judges yours. Stand anyway. There are so many dynamics involved in each and every situation but if leaving was as easy as some try to make it so many more would leave. It may not be easy but it is possible.
If you are in the Oakland, CA area, join myself and a wonderful panel for My Scars Chat. My Scars Chat is a live panel discussion on the impact of domestic violence on families, children and the community; a conversation between men and women about verbal, financial, sexual, spiritual and physical abuse. Join us as we explore effective prevention methods, the road to healing and using one’s scars to bring awareness.
SCARS are those lessons that we learn in life that seem unbearable and come at a greater cost. But the scars let us know that we survived it and healing is possible.
I show my scars so that others know they can heal.” Someone needs to see your scars!
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