Women and children who survive domestic violence have talked about the various ways they have developed to cope until they could find safety. The coping strategies they worked out enabled them to survive. Some of the coping strategies are:
The survivor tells herself, in effect, that the abuse is not really happening or may deny the impact the abuse has had on her. A survivor in denial will say, "This bruise? Oh, it's nothing" or "He doesn't really hurt me." Denial helps the survivor avoid feelings of terror and humiliation.
This is a form of denial. The survivor minimizes when she says, "This isn't really abuse. Abuse is more serious" or "Well, he only hit me once with his fist."
These help the survivor experience some strong feelings such as fear, anger, panic, and shame which she cannot safely share with anyone at the time.
These two reactions can numb the survivor's mind and body while the assault takes place and for a time afterward. The reactions help her avoid dealing with immediate feelings until she has found safety.
Even after the survivor finds safety and supportive people, she may continue to use these coping strategies until she realizes they are no longer necessary or helpful. At that point, the survivor may be interested in receiving counseling or other supportive services.
Mid-Valley Women's Crisis Service offers support groups for women who are or have been abused. Support group may be a good first step to begin the healing process. Also, several private counselors and counseling agencies in our community have staff trained to help survivors of abuse.
Other types of advocacy, referral, information, and support will be helpful for survivors with financial, medical, social service, or legal needs.
Mid-Valley Women's Crisis Service believes survivors must make their own decisions about whether to use counseling, support groups, and other services available.