Don’t Let Divorce Happen to You

There are many words circling in my brain.  Disillusionment, frustration, duped, disbelief, hurt, shocked, sad and empty.  Emotional stages of divorce vary for everyone.  Since separation, acceptance was the immediate response to the tragedy of my divorce considering the abusive history that ensued once the first child was born.  The feeling was mutual when  I received the papers.  Was the first born a trigger?  It felt like the first born ignited something.  The change was gradual at first.  After having a baby, the woman goes through a major transition physically and emotionally, I was no different.  I was not myself, no woman is; however, no amount of stress is any excuse for abuse.  He was not himself either.  Men do not have the babies; however the change can impact men in unknown ways.  It could be the laws of nature, it could be genetics or it could even be the environment that fosters the change; whatever it is, the abusive spouse is not justified in their poor treatment of the other.  When you get married, you are supposed to work through difficulties like speed bumps, so I thought.

If your spouse has unacknowledged abuse in their past, brace yourself you will be facing roadblocks as tall as mountains adorned with caution tape and floodlights, that’s what happened and why I find myself getting divorced.

As a little young thing, I did not pay attention to any of the signs during courtship.  Young people, are accepting of flaws in others, because they lack the experience to discern otherwise. That was me.  I bought his story hook line and sinker.  He fell in love with a girl who hung on his every word and did whatever he wanted to do.  He became her ideal mate, not because those characteristics were apart of who he was, but because he desired to be that person for her.  It sounds like an everyday love story.  Both people should make each other better.  That sounds good.  It sounds RIGHT.  It is like some famous quotes, “You complete me” from Jerry McGuire or “It’s always better when we’re together” from singer songwriter, Jack Johnson.  This understanding of companionship is downright false and misleading.  It is imperative that each person in the relationship is who they say they are.  Do not change to be “better.”  Do not put on airs.  Do not try to be anything for your partner other than yourself.

If you use any other strategy for love your relationship will end and if you make the mistake of getting married it will end in divorce.  Do not let divorce happen to you.

After, the makeup second child, he decided to finally end it when the makeup child was incubating in my womb.  I was so angry after I found out I was pregnant and that he reverted into the same pattern/person that he was before we made up, so much so, that the second child conception was the last time we were together.  It was dreadful.  He was bent on acting like everything was okay publicly; however, at home the emotional abuse ran rampant and there was no end to conflict.  After the baby was born, he filed for divorce.

That little bundle immediately became my silver lining.  I was incredibly thankful that I had this little parting gift, but the pain inside was just as riveting because I knew the baby and my oldest would not experience the nurturing environment I had while growing up.

The relationship spun out of control.  It became so wound up after the first child, the reset button remained blinking, begging to be pushed.  Words and actions gradually ate away at the marriage stronghold.  The person that committed his life to me, all the sudden forgot who he was and what we were about.  All that mattered was his way and objections would be met with avoidance and/or rejection/conditional love.  My vision was clouded.  The constant changing person before me left me off-balance unable to regain my footing.  My emotions got the best of me.  Divorce was not even in the picture before children; however, children changed the family dynamics and conflict can ruin a marriage.

Do not pretend to be someone else.  Do not let conflict ruin your marriage.  Do not be anyone, but yourself. Talk about everything.  Practice forgiveness daily.  Poor into your marriage like it is the very thing that gives you life.  Compromise.

3 Ways to Rise Above Abuse in Relationships, Divorce & Childhood

Abuse is probably more accurately described as the human condition.  Relationships and divorce act as catalysts that make the abuse remnants bubble to the surface.  People that go through a divorce face the flawed human condition head on.  These interactions are cyclical.  Past child abuse in whatever the form impacts the developing brain and as adults without mindfulness spills over into all relationships especially those who are close to us.  It’s imperative that we ALL rise above relationship abuse, divorce abuse and child abuse.

Rising above something that is difficult to identify personally or something that usually is an involuntary response to environmental stressors is almost impossible to do without help.  The brain is one of the most complex organs in the human body and brain surgeons are still stumped by most of its functioning.  Do not under estimate the power of awareness; the ability to redirect thought processes, and reprogramming learned (subconscious or conscious) behavior.  Eventually everyone is affected by abuse indirectly or directly; know how to help someone when they need help and know how to help yourself.  The first step in helping everyone with abuse is acknowledging there is a problem and having the willingness to work together to address the problem (if you are facing life threatening abuse call 911 immediately and extract yourself from the situation).  Leave the blame game at the door, shed the negativity jacket and take off your angry shoes.  Listen.  Talk slowly.  Allow others’ input without feeling their input is a put-down or a disrespectful interruption.  Rising above is absolutely critical if you are a parent.

  1. Everyone needs to acknowledge there is a problem. Avoiding a problem makes the problem worse.  Avoiding a problem seems easier on the surface; however realistically avoidance leads to more dysfunction – the relief you get by avoiding is a lie and only temporary.  If avoidance is used as a solution, the problem will manifest itself in a multitude of ways down the road.
  2. Everyone needs to take RESPONSIBILITY. If you have not been abused directly, you will eventually come across and interact with someone who has been abused.  If you have been abused directly you will have triggers that bring up past experiences that impact your present relationships.  DO NOT LET YOUR PAST control your present (easier said than done).  People that have not been abused directly have a responsibility to everyone in their lives to rise above and lead by example.  It is your job to be COMPASSIONATE.  It is your job to LISTEN.  It is your job to CREATE A SAFE PLACE for interaction.  People that have been abused, may not remember their past or why they feel the way they do in certain situations.
  3. Everyone needs to check their emotions. Everyone has moments of weakness.  It is critical to stop the cycle of abuse by being present and recognize when these moments are unfolding.
    • Are you unusually irritable?
    • Are you experiencing level 10 anger?
    • Are you abnormally tired?
    • Do you have a short fuse?
    • Do you flinch when certain things happen?

If you or someone articulates they are struggling in the above areas and you recognize it and/or hear them say it, STOP and LISTEN.  Neutralize the situation by being calm and sympathetic.  Reacting appropriately in these situations creates stronger relationships.

Practicing the 3 ways to rise above abuse in your personal life will break old patterns and restore equilibrium.  If you are a parent have your children practice these as well, so they can react appropriately.  In some cases, abuse may be extreme and these 3 ways to help will not be enough in your circumstances, do not pacify your situation or explain your situation away.  Reach out for help from your local community.  Do not isolate yourself from others.  Do not only reach out to one person.  One person will not have all the answers and it is good to have support in all areas of your life.  End the crazy cycle of abuse, you will be a trailblazer in a world where everyone typically lives for themselves, rise above abuse in ALL relationships by acknowledging the problem, taking responsibility and checking your emotions.

Guard Against the Derailed Divorce

Divorce may seem to be an effortless way to cut ties with your spouse, but be very careful you do not put your children in harm’s way during the process. Your children could be at risk for Emotional/Psychological Abuse, Physical Abuse, Sexual Abuse, Neglectful Abuse and Sexually Exploited Abuse.

Making the decision to divorce is one of the toughest decisions people face in life.  Even when people are in abusive situations the decision to divorce does not come easy.  Divorce requires a lot of planning.  The person who leads the divorce march must accurately project future circumstances like financial security for the duration of the divorce, future living arrangements, assess current living risks, understand the impact the divorce news will have on the other party, the best scenario possible for your children and anticipate the emotional roller coaster that will ensue from divorce kick-off to divorce closure.  To be real, very few people cover all the bases and at times the emotional roller coaster can get derailed.  A derailed emotional roller coaster during a divorce is problematic for the children and puts your children at risk for abuse by you, by your estranged spouse, siblings or even from predators that seek children who are feeling lonely, unwanted, etc.

The first step in preventing this abuse from occurring is knowing and understanding the distinct types of abuse.

1. Emotional/Psychological Abuse

2. Physical Abuse

3. Sexual Abuse

4. Neglectful Abuse

5. Sexually Exploited Abuse

In some relationships, elements of these may already be present on a surface level – abuse is occurring, but not occurring enough to be identified as a problem or occurring only behind closed doors so no one really has any insight about the issues other than the people directly involved.  It’s terrible to think that children are exposed to this behavior at all, but the fact of the matter is child protective agencies receive millions of reports a year in the United States, a report of child abuse is made every 10 seconds.

What is Emotional Abuse?

It is the most difficult abuse to detect, especially by the parties engaged in it. According to the book, Understanding Child Abuse & Neglect by Cynthia Crosson-Tower there is a distinct pattern of psychically destructive behavior which includes: rejecting, isolating, ignoring, terrorizing and corrupting.  As you read this you may have some shocking realizations that this has happened to you in your life, your family or your marriage.  When a parent rejects a child they do so by dismissing the child’s worth or minimizing the child’s needs.  For example, never feeling “good enough” to be loved by the parent would be considered rejecting.  When a parent limits the child’s social engagements, outside communication and makes the child solely dependent on them this would be considered isolating.  When the parent plops their child in front of a television/phone/tablet all day as the babysitter, does not interact with the child, does not teach the child and stunts the intellectual development of a child this would be considered ignoring. Constant berating, verbal assaults, creating a climate of fear and making the child believe the world is out to get them would be terrorizing and finally, an example of corrupting – the adult encourages damaging behavior such as watching violence or witnessing a drug deal.

Children that experience emotional abuse grow up to be adults that have difficulty recognizing or correctly identifying the emotions in others and have trust issues.

Emotional/psychological abuse is probably the most prevalent in families and especially families of divorce.  Children that experience emotional abuse grow up to be adults that have difficulty recognizing or correctly identifying the emotions in others and have trust issues.  The idea of empathic deficiency comes from this article, “Linkages between Childhood Emotional Abuse & marital satisfaction: The mediating role of empathic accuracy for hostile emotions” from the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health.  This can also explain why some people more readily divorce than others.

What is Physical Abuse?

This is any type of physical hurt inflicted on another; however, it does not include the form of discipline like spanking.  If spanking leads to bruising, the spanking goes beyond discipline and can fall into the physical abuse category.  The medical community identifies physical abuse as battered child syndrome (BCS).  Physical abuse can be prevalent in a divorce, because the stress can lead to learned coping strategies like indulging in alcohol which increases the likelihood of abuse.  Some family and friends may not be able to handle the separation and could disassociate themselves with the divorcing parties, making the divorcing parents feel even more isolated during the most stressful time they have ever experienced in life.  If people have less reliable relationships for support, the stress can boil over onto the children.  Additionally, if the couple goes through the court process with attorneys there is an additional financial strain on the relationship which also adds fuel to the already smoldering fire.  The dynamics of each person should be considered as well.  If either spouse has abuse in their background (it could be unknown by both parties – the brain blocks bad memories); this increases the chances of abuse as well.  If you were raised in a military family, especially if one parent was deployed or served during wartime; there could be abuse in your history.  Take note: having children can be a trigger for you if you have abuse in your history.  Anyone can identify the behavior warning signs of abuse.  If you see children that exhibit certain behavior it could indicate they have been exposed to an abusive situation.  Babies could have a shrill cry or do not cry at all.  Young children show no expectation of being consoled.  Children end up having a low self-esteem and very little confidence in their own abilities.  Some children can start regressing by wetting the bed, using baby talk and sucking on fingers.  Other children could have stuttering or speech problems, ADHD/ADD or general acting out.

What is Sexual Abuse?

Any sexual violence, exposing any sexual act to children (this includes inappropriate touching, seducing, precarious situations, testing the child’s boundaries, showing images, etc.).  There are two types of sexual abuse intrafamilial abuse and extrafamilial abuse.  Concerning child abuse, intrafamilial (incest between members in the nuclear family) abuse is much more common than extrafamilial (non-family members) abuse.  Over 90% of the time the abuser is someone the child knows (Crosson-Tower, 2014, p. 115).  When there is incest in a family it does not automatically make the perpetrator a pedophile.  There’s also some theories of covert incest where there is no touching involved.

What perpetrators fail to realize is that there are consequences beyond a court of law for their actions.

When there are marital problems and the spouse is no longer fulfilling the needs of the other spouse or one spouse rejects the other, some people turn to their children for comfort as a coping mechanism.  What perpetrators fail to realize is that there are consequences beyond a court of law for their actions.  Mia Fontaine from the Atlantic put it this way, “Incest is the single biggest commonality between drug and alcohol addiction, mental illness, teenage and adult prostitution, criminal activity, and eating disorders. Abused youths don’t go quietly into the night. They grow up—and 18 isn’t a restart button.”  Divorce triggers feelings of rejection, loneliness and loss; be sure to teach your children what is appropriate and what is inappropriate, because they will not be under your supervision while they spend time in another household and divorce by nature is a stressor that triggers people to act out of character.

What is Neglectful Abuse?

Neglect is an act of omission.  When a child is neglected physically it could be as simple as sleeping instead of giving the child dinner.  Another example, if there is more than one child in the household, parents may often lean on the older children to perform their parental duties such as feeding the children, bathing the children and nurturing the younger children (this is called parentification); because the divorce situation becomes too much for them to handle the responsibility.  Divorce is notorious for causing depression and if there are young children involved depression can occur very easily in both parents; because the mother is recovering from giving birth.  If the mother is not treated for postpartum depression, the depression can last much longer and could be described as continued postpartum distress.  This scenario sets the stage for neglectMedical Neglect can occur as well if the parents fail to get medical help when the child needs it (this does not include missing immunizations or well child care visits). Neglect can happen in mature families as well.  Families with older children may take their older children’s independence for granted and forget they need to be extra attentive during a divorce not the latter which falls under Emotional Neglect.  If anyone decides to keep the children from school for an extended period of time or fails to notice their children’s absence from school – that’s Educational Neglect.  Ask friends and family for help and support if you are in this phase of life.

What is Sexually Exploited Abuse?

People are tricked to believe they are in a mutually loving relationship and the relationship gradually progresses beyond their control and they are coerced to perform sexual acts in exchange for money.  Single parent or divorced households struggle financially and under stress some people resort to doing things out of character to cope with their situation.  Rebekah’s story is a good example.

Divorce may seem to be an effortless way to cut ties with your spouse, but be very careful you do not put your children in harm’s way during the process.  Your children could be at risk for Emotional/Psychological Abuse, Physical Abuse, Sexual Abuse, Neglectful Abuse and Sexually Exploited Abuse.  Divorce changes a person to their very inner core.  Divorce is a refining fire.  For some that means the heat will uncover strengths the person did not know they had, make them a better parent than they were before and allow them to self-reflect on their mistakes so they are not repeated in the future; however for others it will send them on a downward spiral and possibly change them for the worst (there are always those middle ground people too, that continue with life maintaining status quo unchanged).  If attorneys are involved in the divorce, the attorney will reflect the person they represent in most cases.  Unfortunately, just like anything in this world the tools of law can be used to help or hurt a situation be sure to think before you act with any request for order or paperwork filed, because whatever you do you are indirectly affecting your children for the good or for the bad.

If you suspect a child is being abused please call the National Child Abuse Hotline 1-800-4-A-Child, you can report anonymously and you could save a life.

Family Law – The Desert for Raw Emotions

If you’re considering divorce, please reconsider. Make your spouse a priority, work on your marriage and above all avoid the Family Law desert, especially if there is no abuse in your marriage.

The best deterrent to ending your marriage is the Family Law system.  Family Law itself is the greatest punishment inflicted on married couples in their lifetime.  Of course, married couples don’t realize the doom that awaits until they decide to divorce.  The person looking for the divorce wants to immediately end whatever disruption that is in the marriage by severing the relationship with the other person; however, this feeling to separate to end the pain of the relationship does not justify the divorce, but demonstrates that person’s inability to cope, adapt, change and most of all forgive and bounce back.  In cases of abuse it is much different.  Often the one being abused doesn’t divorce, because they are controlled by their abuser or they think it is against their religion.  The brave punching bags (people that are at the mercy of their spouse’s fists or flying objects, verbally abusive words, psychological games and abuse, neglect or isolation or withholding stimulation such as conversation for extended periods of time), these people are extremely tough victims that have the courage to file for divorce.

Abusers rarely file for divorce because they like controlling their victims and divorcing defeats their sick passion for control or domination.  If they divorce there is no one left to control, belittle and put down to make themselves feel better (abusers have low self-esteem).   In some cases, the victim can convince their abuser to divorce them if their abuser is extremely concerned with public perception or the abuser is hiding something they do not want public.  The abuser will sometimes file to have perceived control over the outcome of divorce thus giving them the upper hand or saving their reputation.  Many states have adopted no-fault divorce to keep the situation surrounding the divorce quiet; however, if you’re married to an abuser they will be sure to use their abusing tactics whether or not the state is no-fault, so be forewarned, abuse does not go away in a divorce or during the separation process it just takes on a different form.  Liberal states do not care about abuse in a divorce case unless there are criminal cases attached and the abuser has a criminal record.

The Family Law system is incredibly broken.  Some states like Mississippi still do not have no-fault in their divorce proceedings; however, recently they passed a Domestic Abuse Reform bill according to The Clarion Ledger – Part of the USA Today Network.  However, even this amendment doesn’t account for numerous kinds of abuse that occur in families (neglect, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, etc.).  Additionally, what if there is ongoing abuse of the children within the relationship by one spouse?  In liberal states, the courts do not care unless it is so bad there is a criminal case and conviction.  Best interest of the child doctrine is only used loosely in liberal states and IS NOT LAWBecause best interest of the child is not law, judges are not required to follow it.  Absurd, right?  Child Protective Services or Child Welfare Services or all the other state variations that name the agency that steps in to supposedly prevent child abuse (every state and even county have a different child abuse prevention agency), will only get involved if the situation is bad enough to remove the children from both parents.  The general consensus is, “keep the children in the home, because the foster care system makes things even worse.”

Men, if your wife is deranged and you can see your children have been neglected; however, your wife has no criminal background you will not get sole custody of the children.  Women, if your husband is abusing you and the children and there is no criminal documentation of the incidents you will not get sole custody of the children.  Men and Women who have zero abuse in your relationship, please DO NOT go to court and claim there is abuse.  One of the main reasons men and women in abusive relationships are not protected by the system, because people are notorious for lying and duping the system to one-up their spouses.  DO NOT be these people, you are hurting others indirectly and you are hurting your children if you have children.  Divorce elicits a number of jungle emotions that are unhealthy for a family which is another reason why divorce should be your last resort if there’s no abuse.

If you’re considering divorce, please reconsider.  Make your spouse a priority, work on your marriage and above all avoid the Family Law desert, especially if there is no abuse in your marriage.  If you are in an abusive relationship, get out.  There are many resources online that can help you define whether you are in an abusive relationship; Family Services is one of many.  Some abuse can be mended with counseling; however, unless the abuser truly finds God or there’s an act of God that makes the abuser change, like they get struck by lightning or have a near death experience the likelihood of change on their own will either be a trap (manipulation) or behavior modification that will only last for a season.