Giving up the hope that they will change
by Christina Hays
The holiday season inspires hope at every turn. What if the thing you are hoping the most to happen seems to be impossible? What does it look like to give up hope during the most hopeful time of the year? With Hallmark on endless repeat of couples finding their happily ever after no matter what the odds may be, survivors of domestic violence stay with abusers for much longer than is safe because they cannot give up hope that they will turn back into the person that they love. The charming person who loved them and treated them well disappeared, but they still see glimpses of that person. Those glimpses keep hope alive.
The media does not help the myth that love can change a person. Books, television shows, and movies depict the irredeemable surpassing all obstacles with the love of the right person. If fictional characters in everything from “Fifty Shades of Grey” to “Gone with the Wind” can change than why can’t their significant other? Holding on to the hope and love they give their abuser the power to destroy them.
Promises of a fake future together are all that is left. Plans to live a happy life, get married, have children, etc. will never come to fruition with this person. Abusers are incapable of giving anyone what they do not understand. Power and control are all they desire. It may take months or years to realize that this cycle can only end when reality is fully embraced.
The second that reality takes hold and hope begins to fade survivors can break free from their abuser. They can pick up the pieces of their shattered existence and start to rebuild a new life free from lies, heartache, and betrayal. Resisting the urge to connect back with their abuser takes strength and support. Remembering that they were a whole person before the abuse and trying to put a whole person together after means no contact with the person that broke them.
No contact with a person who has consumed every second of every day feels foreign. Constantly thinking about what went wrong and how they could have fixed it is common. The truth remains just out of grasp. Survivors never did anything wrong and could never have fixed what was broken. Abusers again hold all the power to make things change but why would they when all they want is power and control in any situation.
With no contact the abuser is forced to move on to another victim. This brings another reminder of the fake future that they had the survivor hoping to obtain. Only now they fear the worst, someone else may get the future that they were promised. Once again heartbroken the survivor has to remember that this is another lie. Abusive people do not change until they see their issues and seek help to fix them. The next person that falls for their trap is just another victim in a line of victims.
Survivors need a safe, supportive environment to process all of these emotions. It is not an impossible task with determination, the right help, and most importantly, time.
Advocates receive trauma-informed training to help make healing a little easier and less lonely. If you or anyone you know is facing heartbreak and loss because of an abusive relationship, Crisis Services of North Alabama can help. Please reach out to an advocate locally at 256-574-5826 or on our 24/7 HELPline at 256-716-1000. No one should face rebuilding their life alone especially during the holidays.