Health care providers are some of the key people who should be able to identify domestic violence and provide the appropriate assistance and referrals. But what if the domestic violence is happening to that health care provider? What if one of our own nurses is the victim? What if YOU are the victim?
As nurses, like all health care providers, we take care of everyone else, sometimes to the exclusion of ourselves. If you are a victim of domestic abuse, you may be thinking that you can help the abuser to “get better.” But, when it comes to your own safety, you cannot help anyone else unless you help yourself first by being safe.
This can happen to you! If you are thinking that “I would never let anyone put a hand on me,” or “I would leave the second something happened,” I can tell you that in almost every situation, the victim of the domestic abuse had said or thought the same thing.
It is difficult to leave that type of situation despite the abuse. Such abuse may make you feel defeated that the marriage had failed and you could not face a divorce because of your family values.
In addition, finances and possessions are intertwined with those of the abuser. Sometimes and most tragically, even the children are in the mix. It is not easy to just pack your bags and leave not knowing where you are going or if you will see your things or kids again.
If you are in a situation like this, not feeling safe at home, make a plan. You don’t have to leave right now, but still have a plan. If you know of someone who is in this type of situation, pass along what we say here.
- Keep an escape bag somewhere in which you can keep extra cash, birth certificate, social security card, passport, extra keys and anything else you might need. Have it hidden somewhere from which you can grab it if you need it.
- Have your own credit cards, bank account and cash.
- Keep your gas tank full and be sure to always park somewhere in which you cannot be blocked in.
- Figure out 3 safe places to go and different routes to get to each of them.
- Arrange with someone you trust who you can call to pick up your children and meet you at your safe place.
The bottom line: just have a plan!
Domestic abuse can happen to anyone, no matter what his or her socioeconomic status might be, or gender. Yes, males are victims too. You are important! Your life is at stake! Take it seriously!
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