Pregnancy is such a hopeful, optimistic time. You feel a surge of excitement. There's hope that your personal future will be better... and hope about a collective future.
It can also be a time of a lot of self-reflection and value clarification. The past might resurface a little bit. Or the experiences of loved ones. Chances are, either you or someone you know has experienced domestic violence.
Not all those women come from places of disadvantage. It’s like COVID...everyone, no matter where they live, their job, or their personality, can be exposed. Abusive people may ask for forgiveness. They may promise change or assure love. They strive to put on a good public image or contribute income to the family.
But they also may shame, scream, control, isolate, gaslight, or batter. Moods may change at a drop of a hat. You are told you’re crazy...or that you escalate their frequency of put-downs.
I write this blog not to create a sense of exasperation, despair, or anxiety. I write it because I believe in abject honesty. I know there are pregnant women out there who are experiencing domestic violence. There are mothers out there who need to feel less alone.
Just because you are given the experience of carrying a child does not mean the entirety of your life is rosy. I think it’s important to acknowledge that.
You may feel mixed emotions. It may feel paralyzing. The daunting and painful process of seeking help can feel like admitting a failure.
Surprisingly, though, I feel like so much more of a “successful” person now. I’m not trying to constantly empathize and make amends with someone who is broken. I no longer feel like I'm trying to piece an ancient pot back together with Elmer's glue.
If you or anyone you know is experiencing domestic violence in the form of:
I invite you to the book Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men by Lundy Bancroft. He’s a true expert in the behaviors of people who act this way.
I also recommend looking at this Danger Assessment from the book. It's a good way to evaluate if you and/or your children are unsafe.
Women should also be encouraged to take seriously intuitions that they have about the dangerousness of a partner or former partner, even if he does not exhibit a large number of the risk factors listed below.
Here are a few other resources that can help:
This is also a GREAT article about what our current presidential administration is planning on doing to help support women, including paid leave off work to deal with leaving and litigating domestic violence issues.
Before I left my husband, one thing I agonized over was if our son would be better off, even at my own expense. If we all remained under the same roof as a family, would he be better suited for the world?
Research shows that, in fact, two happy but separate households are better than a unified unhappy one. This brought me some comfort. It put a lid on the burgeoning guilt and helped me think about self-protection.
Remember that everyone—you too— deserve to have healthy, love, peace, and respect—no matter what.
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