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How to support someone leaving abuse

Hello Poppets,

How are we getting on?

Gosh its getting mighty cold here now. Though i am enjoying stomping through the crisp leaves on my self contained, distance wary walk.

Today on my blog i wanted to talk about a little topic that may seem strange for the time but that i think is really important.

Over the last few weeks and since going into our isolated states the statistics of abuse has risen quite dramatically. Yes, heartbreakingly thousands upon thousands of abused adults and children are trapped indoors due to COVID-19 with little resources and support to comfort them.

With that, there has been lots of people speaking out and opening their inboxes, hearts and doors to those abused. Gosh, it’s been so wonderful to see such a wave of warm and heartfelt words sweep through various social media platforms. All with the best intentions and with others in mind.

In the midsts of that and though i must say its not a common theme, i have seen various posts saying things along the lines of ‘IF YOU ARE BEING ABUSED, I’LL COME AND GET YOU’. Though these posts are meant with the best intentions they left me thinking nothing but…

Yikes!

A little bit of, what? and mixed with PLEASE.DON’T.DO.THAT.

I obviously don’t want to barge in and tell people what to do in these situations but instead I thought I would try and openly educate people about how to help support someone leaving abuse. We often hear people telling people to speak out and support those abused but we don’t often hear anything about just how to do that. It seems people don’t realise just how dangerous the whole theory of putting on a superhero cape and attempting to ‘get someone out’ of an abusive situation could be.

Maybe explaining a little about my story and how that went down for me could help. See, various people through my childhood and teenage years said to me “Im coming to get you” or “lets get you out” and believe me it sent nothing but fear through my very core. There was no daydreaming about a life away from my abuse and thoughts of safety it was just plain fear. I can remember that sheer panic so vividly as i had to beg and plead DO.NOT.COME.HERE.

PLEASE!

It wasn’t that I didn’t want to be saved or leave my abusers care but i had strategically learnt how to manage what was happening inside my four walls. I had learnt how to manage her behaviour, learnt how to manage her outburst and though yes there still was outbursts, I had learnt to keep the majority at bay as i had outlined her key triggers and what was going to set her off.

Having someone storm into my house and ‘rescue me’ was going to end in tears (to put it lightly) and they would have only been from me and my new found ‘rescuer’ believe me. On the various occasions that people tried to come to my house my abuser would tell them exactly where they could stick their opinions in a fit of rage. Luckily (though not nice to watch) it wasn’t directed at me because I wasn’t the one to tell them what was happening it was just more of a ‘good guess’. Let me tell you it didn’t go down well for the person that came to my door saying “we think you might be abusing your daughter”…

As I’ve said previously it was all well meaning and those people that had attempted to ‘get me out’ were lovely however it just wasn’t the right way to go about things. In fact the people that helped me get out were at the opposite end of the scale in their reactions.

Oh, there was a lot of upset to start with believe me and i remember tears rolling down my tutors face as she had started to unravel what was happening to me at home. I watched her process the whole thing (whilst also thinking uh oh) and then watched her snap into a different person. She wiped away her tears, hugged me and told me calmly that she would help me leave but that first we needed a plan.

Uh oh!

Oh believe me the whole thing still had me worried but i knew she wasn’t going to rush into anything and that she realised the severity of the situation. Her number 1 priority was keeping me safe over ‘getting me out’ and i could see that and was willing to let her help.

The time between her first working everything out and then me leaving i believe was a few weeks (my memory is quite scattered around that time) To those without a history of abuse or experience with helping someone that may seem pretty lengthy but that time was needed for everything to be done right and allow me to leave for good.

Our initial reaction is to just want to get people out and thats an obvious and normal human reaction. Sometimes though we have to put that to one side especially when we could be putting those abused in more danger or ourselves. We have to go into these situations calmly, show our support and not rush into anything. It’s also really important to plan things correctly and make sure that if they are going to live with you, all family members confirm that it’s okay for them to do so and that there is no chance of them having to go back to their abuser due to having no where to go.

It’s interesting that as i started to broach this topic a lot of people reached out to me and said the same. There had been a lot of those “I’m coming to get you” comments from various people but the people that actually got them out of their abuse was those who remained calm and were more of a ‘distanced’ support.

So…

How can we support people leaving abuse?

Its probably important and (though hopefully obvious) to start this by saying if someone is in immediate danger you must call your local emergency service number. Thats if things have dramatically escalated and someone is in danger right now. If authorities are involved this will be a very different situation but I’ve often found through my own story and hearing other peoples that the people that actually initially get people out of abuse aren’t always those of authority and its often other family members, friends or teachers. Often those of authority or organisations to support those abused come in after.

It’s also important to say that if someone directly asks you to come and get them its okay to do so as long as you have checked it is safe. Often those abused don’t want anything to happen to anyone else and with that they have often made sure themselves that it’s safe.

In that I guess it shows why it’s important to let those abused lead because they know whats happening inside their four walls and know when it’s safe for not only them but you too. If you are able to open your doors to them its important to let them know that or help them find a safe place to stay.

In the actual ‘getting out’ I found it useful to make a plan and I know thats something that others have done too. That includes dates, times and destinations. You can help them make a plan or just be a support person during. They may want you to help in getting them out for example parking your car around the corner for them to jump in or they may be able to get to your home (or destination) themselves.

They may have even just told you about whats happening to them to confide in someone and have a little support. It’s important to encourage and educate people on how they can leave but its important to not push and get upset when they wont ‘just leave’. I remember people when I was younger would fall out with me because I wouldn’t ‘just leave’ (or couldn’t) and its a horrible feeling after plucking up the courage to open up about whats been happening. Some people may be just asking for support and if you can do that in a non judgemental manner it will mean the world to them, believe me.

It really depends from person to person how the situations will play out but its always important to lead with patience and care and not rush into anything. I don’t think its talked about enough how dangerous that can be though people do it with the best intentions. Rushing into these things really can end in disaster and I don’t like to be to heavy on my blog, but its true. Abusers spend so much of their time making sure nobody finds out about whats happening behind closed doors and to break that seal without being properly prepared is only going to make things much worse. You need to make sure that if someone is leaving abuse they are leaving for good and dont have to go back and I cant stress that enough.

Its a huge responsibility to help someone out of abuse and applaud all those that have done it. Its important that if you are going to do that you look after yourself too as you cant help anyone else if you’re not helping yourself. If it’s also too much for you, you can ask if you can pass on the information to someone else or advise the person of where they can go for help.

I know you may want to just go and rescue someone but putting that extra time and patience in to do it properly can leave someone with the rest of their lives to live in safety.

Again, if you or anyone you know is in immediate danger always call your emergency service number.

Stay safe and look after one another.

Sending you all my love and positivity at this current time.

littlestlady

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