Domestic Abuse Victim Is On the Fence

Dear Selfless Esteem,
I left an abusive relationship but he wants me back. I love him but when he swung a broomstick at me, it was the last straw (even though he didn’t actually hit me with it). I also like a guy at work, who gives me rides to and from work. Should I get back together with my ex for the sake of our baby or should I give up on him and see if the thing with my coworker goes anywhere?

Signed,
On the Fence

Dear On the Fence,

You’re correct: you shouldn’t be treated in an abusive way. I’m so sorry you experienced that. You also expressed you want to do what’s best for your baby. Let’s keep that in mind as we explore your options. 👶

Safety First

If you have any concerns that your ex might try to hurt you, consider reporting it to the police and getting a restraining order. Keep emergency numbers handy, such as 911 for immediate danger. For crises, which are not life-threatening, text HOME to 741741 to reach the Crisis Text Line.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline 1 (800) 799-SAFE (7233) can link you to domestic violence help centers, shelters, or legal aid agencies, which may offer assistance with getting a restraining order and more. These services are usually free or low cost. Your court’s family law center or self-help center may also be able to help you with a restraining order or any child support or spousal/partner support issues.

Having a lawyer is a good idea, especially since you and your ex will see each other in court, where the judge will give visitation orders and child custody orders. If you live in a Native American tribal community or reservation, the tribe may also have a Tribal Advocate and other resources.

The Cycle of Abuse

You described your relationship as abusive, which is accurate because he swung a broomstick at you. Are you aware of the cycle of abuse? See the video, “Power, Control, and the Cycle of Abuse” for an explanation by Jeneration J.

According to the cycle of abuse, your ex will eventually abuse you again if you get back together. Furthermore, your baby could get seriously injured or even killed in the crossfire. Exposure to domestic violence is considered child abuse.

Thus, if you want to get back together, you and your ex will need help, which could take years–if ever. This includes individual therapy for each of you and your own group therapy. Couples therapy is also a component but only when your therapists agree you two are ready. Do not rush the process; change takes time, and you need to be careful. Find competent therapists, who can remain objective and help with discernment.

Your ex might agree to participate in therapy, but only half-heartedly to get you back. In fact, he might try many tactics to get you back. For this reason, be sure to maintain your boundaries and consult with domestic violence experts in the aforementioned resources.

A Strong Support System

Domestic Abuse Support Group

Identify and build your support system. It could consist of friends, neighbors, other moms, relatives, and a domestic violence support group. Don’t hesitate to request assistance from them. For example, ask family members or friends to babysit so that you can take a break.

Find a quality therapist so you can confidentially express your thoughts and feelings about your past trauma and your present circumstance of adjusting to single motherhood and dealing with your ex. See the posts, “What is Wise Counsel and Good Therapy?” and “Why You Need a Therapist ASAP.”

Additionally, you can call a warmline, which is a non-crisis phone line with trained staff, who provide confidential support. Open this national directory for a list of warmline numbers.

Seek a prayer group, Bible study, or support group at a local or online church. Some churches have a group specifically for single mothers.

Co-Parenting

Mediators, who work for the court system, can help you and your ex create a parenting plan. If you are concerned about your safety or your baby’s safety, meet with the mediator in private and inform the mediator.

The court may order monitored visitation for your ex or no visitation at all. Or if your ex is allowed to have unmonitored visitation, you might want to meet at a neutral location to drop off/pick up the baby. Refrain from talking about your relationship, finances, etc. during that time. A support person might be helpful during this process until it flows more easily.

Guarding Your Heart

People tend to be vulnerable and even desperate when they end a relationship. For this reason, be careful not to jump into another relationship too quickly. Besides, this is a good time to focus on taking care of yourself and your baby. But if you decide to have a romantic relationship with your coworker, see the post “4 Things to Do Before Starting a Workplace Romance” for precautions and tips.

Taking Care of Yourself

Blessed

You have been through a lot and you are currently going through a lot. Give yourself some tender loving care, especially since you have been abused and treated so harshly by your ex. See the post “6 Effective Ways to Manage Stress” and “Mending a Broken Heart: 8 Methods to Ease Your Pain” for more details.

Sometimes abuse victims tend to blame themselves. If you find yourself doing that, see the post “Defeat Self-Criticism.” If it gets to the point of considering self-harm, see the post, “How to Change Self Harming to Self Healing.”

Leaning on God

“But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31). Last but not least, focus on your relationship with God. For more details, see the posts, “Why Selfless Esteem Is Better Than Self-Esteem,” “The Real Truth About God,” and “How To Pray in 5 Simple Steps.” “He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed” (Deuteronomy 31:8). 🌈

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New King James Version®. Copyright © 1984 by Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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2 Comments

  1. TC

    Really glad to see that you advised this woman not to jump into another relationship too quickly. I hope she decides not to date at all for an extended period. I have heard of many that end up in nightmare scenarios due to meeting the wrong person at the wrong time. In fact, many predators specifically seek out emotionally vulnerable people. I especially love that you pointed out that exposing children to domestic violence is a form of child abuse. Praying she takes that to heart, Gina. 🙏🏽

    1. gleggio@ymail.com

      Thanks so much for your comment. I think taking care of a baby sometimes increases the desire to have a relationship (to have a partner help out and/or have a close adult relationship).

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