Covid-19 has changed everyone’s lives—especially those who find themselves living in an abusive situation. On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. That statistic could be on the increase since this pandemic has elevated the fear of the unknown and generated extraordinary stress and anxiety within families, households, and relationships. Furthermore, I fear fewer victims are seeking help since safer-at-home orders require people to hunker down together at home, sharing space with abusers.
Most individuals are consumed with worrying thoughts that I call the what ifs:
- What if I get sick or even die?
- What if I can’t pay my bills or take care of my family?
- What if our lives don’t return to normal?
- What if things don’t get better?
These worrying thoughts can raise stress levels and increase anxiety for anyone but can especially be a trigger for those prone to abusive behaviors. Some individuals who feel they are losing control of their own lives may become more controlling of those closest to them. Stressful situations like the pandemic can cause a rise in unhealthy copying skills such as alcohol and drug abuse. Abusive individuals my find themselves more frustrated, angry, or even rageful. These types of behaviors, fears, and emotions create a ticking time bomb that can devastate a family.
With a rise in domestic abuse and violence, families are more vulnerable than ever. The safety of victims and their children should be a chief concern for our society and prompt us to become more aware and offer support to those in need.
If you, your children, or someone you know is in in a dangerous life-threating situation, take the initiative and call 911. For those not in a life-threatening situation yet dealing with controlling, manipulative, degrading, or intolerable behaviors, it may be time to start planning for a new beginning—one absent of abuse.
As a survivor and through my work with abuse victims over the last decade, I know all too well how hard it is to leave and start over, especially when children are involved. I personally felt trapped in my abusive relationship with my first husband. He controlled and manipulated my life. Not only was I fearful of losing his love, but I was financially dependent on him. He convinced me that no one would ever love me like he did; he told me I was stupid and incapable of do anything right. I lived in a cycle of emotional abuse for nearly ten years.
Abusive people can destroy a victim’s self-worth, manipulate their thoughts and beliefs. Abusers have a way of convincing a victim that they are to blame for the abuser’s poor behaviors. The victim can be manipulated into believing they are the uncaring and controlling person in the relationship. This is why I feel it is important to understand what emotional or psychological abuse looks, sounds, and feels like. Go to Helpguide.org to learn more about abuse.
Once a victim understands the abuse and decides to take action, they can transition from victim to survivor. The following steps offer effective ways to break free of an abusive situation:
- Get Help
- Get Out
- Stop the Cycle of Abuse
Get Help – First, it is vital to make a plan. Research options or find an organization for guidance and support. Rainn.org or National Domestic Violence Hotline Thehotline.org are organizations that can help survivors. Go to Mannettemorgan.com for more information and to find links to these organizations and other resources. Abuse survivors may need a support group, therapist, lawyer, resources, or a safe place to stay.
Get Out – This just might be the hardest thing any survivor will ever do, but it can be done. I believe few relationships that involve abuse can be resolved. The only way to turn an unhealthy relationship into a healthy one requires behavioral modification by the abuser and the victim which involves awareness, reflection, work, learning, and growth as individuals and a unified pair. If both parties in the relationship aren’t willing to do the work, it might be time to move on.
Stop the Cycle of Abuse – Once a survivor decides to face their challenges, it is time to become educated. A survivor must make a choice to invest in their own personal healing. They may need a therapist, guidance, or a self-help book like my book Finding Your Voice: A Path to Recovery for Survivors of Abuse. The best gift a survivor can give to themselves is to heal the pain of their past trauma. As a survivor heals, they can discover their self-worth and regain their self-empowerment. When a survivor gains these two self-beliefs, they will obtain what is needed to break the cycle of abuse in their own lives and have an opportunity for happiness, joy, and healthier relationships.
As a society we can make a difference. In order to stop the cycle of abuse in our society, we must become aware, educated, vocal, and supportive. We must empower victims to become survivors. I believe each individual survivor’s strength and empowerment is the answer to breaking the cycle of abuse.
About the author: Mannette Morgan is an inspirational speaker, author, and abuse survivor who is on a mission to stop the cycle of abuse in our society. After 30 years of intense self-work, she overcame her past trauma of emotional, sexual, and physical abuse along with powering through the limitations of her learning disability, dyslexia. A life coach certified through the Academy of Solution Focus Training and the American University of NLP, she has emerged as a leading voice among abuse survivors and today inspires others to rise above adversity and strive for a better life. Her incredible story of survival and recovery is documented in the book Finding Your Voice. https://mannettemorgan.com