Authority figures (AF) can be parents, partners, teachers, school principals, school directors, supervisors, bosses, religious figureheads, cult leaders, etc. Dependents can be children, teenagers, partners, students, employees, religious followers, etc. What matters is that there is a power imbalance and a dependence of some sort, whether physical, financial, "spiritual," psychological or emotional.
1. AF's are the masters of dependents.
2. AF's alone decide what is right and wrong,, good/bad and "appropriate" and "inappropriate"
3. They alone make up the definitions, the rules, the "choices" and the "consequences" (See pseudo-choices and consequences)
4. Dependents are held responsible for the AF's feelings (anger, disappointment, embarrassment, humiliation, happiness and unhappiness)
5. The AF is only responsible and accountable for good things that happen, never the bad ones. Thus the AF' appears to always be in the right and when things go wrong, the dependent is always blamed and feels responsible and guilty.
6. The AF tries to exercise total control of the dependent by controlling his thoughts, feelings and behavior. Whenever this control is not absolute, the AF feels threatened.
7. The dependent's individuality is minimized as much as possible by the AF.
8. The AF creates an intricate system of punishments and rewards which rob the dependent of any sense of inner direction and esteem.
9. All dependents have the following rights that the AF often challenges or will limit:
The freedom to perceive
To think and interpret
To want, need, and chose
10. The AF never (or rarely) admits mistakes or apologizes.
11. All of the above take place in a way which does not expose the AF's true motives and none of this is openly talked about. No "back talk" is allowed.
It is also important to note that abusive authority figures are often good at gathering support for themselves. This means that they will occasionally fight any accusations or support for the victim fiercely even if they are guilty.
Check out our previous blog for more ideas on how to provide assistance to a single parent in your life.
6. Holidays suck
The holidays are all about traditions, family and getting together with loved ones. When you are a single parent holidays are often shared with another parent. Every year, single parents across the country wake up on Christmas morning to an empty house, rather than to the fun filled excitement of opening gifts.
Want to help?
Invite the single parent over for Christmas dinner or to sing carols with you. There is a good chance that she will turn you down, because watching other families enjoy being together sometimes makes it even harder to be alone. However, knowing that you took the time to ask will help her remember that she is loved and cared about.
7. Single parents are not invited to hang with other adults
The couples night is something that many adults enjoy and couples get together to do various activities. However, the single parent is not invited to these events. Some of the reason is because single parents don't have the time or the funds to pay a sitter on top of covering the cost of the event. Girls night out sometimes presents its own problem because this also requires hiring a babysitter.
Want to help?
If couples night included watching a football game or other family friendly activity then single parents would be more likely to attend. It may create an odd number of females to males, but typically this doesn't matter in group settings anyway. Just try to be aware and occasionally include your single parent friends in your group activities.
8. Single parents have questions about raising children of different genders.
Fortunately most single parents know at least one adult of the opposite sex that they can call to ask 'personal' questions. As a female with no brothers, when my boys began needing things like cups for sports I had no idea how to ensure they were fitting properly or where to find one. On more than one occasion I had to ask the coach or my brother in law these questions.
Want to help?
If you are asked an odd gender specific questions, try to recognize why you are being asked and answer it as honestly as possible without any snide remarks. If you know the parent well enough to know they won't take offense at a little dash of humor, then lighten the mood with a joke or two.... otherwise keep the comments to yourself.
9. We don't get enough sleep.
For two parent families the late nights are shared between two parents. However, single parents face these long nights alone. The morning always comes too early and there isn't anyone else to get up with the kids after a long night. The single parent has so much responsibility that it is unlikely there will be a chance to "sleep in" for another few years.
Want to help?
Help her remember the joy of coffee that someone else went to the effort to bring. If you know a single parent is going to have a long night, bring her a cup of coffee on your way to work. It doesn't matter if this is pricey store bought stuff, or the day old Foldgers from your coffee pot take a moment to let her know that you are aware she had a tough night.
10. Take a moment to ask how their day was.
Single people don't go home to a partner and talk about their day. They might discuss the day with a favorite 4 legged companion, but in general they don't get much feedback from other humans.
Want to help?
Take a moment occasionally and check in with your single parent friends. Even if they are unable to talk, it will warm their heart to know you think about them and cared enough to see how their day went.
So, lets get real for just a second. Drug and alcohol abuse is an extremely common problem among domestic violence survivors. It is one way many victims use to cope and manage a living environment that is very difficult and emotionally damaging. Drugs and alcohol are a great way to numb overwhelming feelings, this is one of the reasons we see lots of substance abuse among survivors.
If this is you, there is no judgement here.... we get that you never intended for this to happen. In fact we encourage you to reach out to professionals who can help you get clean and have that life you really want. The folks at drugrehab.com have a wonderful website with lots of amazing resources, we encourage you to check it out.
12 years ago when I was leaving my own abusive marriage a close friend made me promise her that I would NEVER drink alone. I'd not had anything close to a drinking problem, so her comment didn't make much sense to me at the time. However, when court didn't go as planned or I found myself frustrated at trying to make my paycheck cover all the basic expenses or hurt by the betrayal of a friend that I trusted, the idea of relaxing with a drink or two honestly was an attractive option. Since I'd promised my friend that I would not drink alone, if I decided to have a drink or two to relax I'd need to call a friend and ask them to either come hang out with me or go to the bar to have a drink.
This promise forced me to admit when I was having a difficult time with some of the things happening in my life and created a pause in the moment to think about how I was escaping the emotional pain. The other side effect of keeping this promise is that I had accountability with my friends even when things changed because my friends would notice quickly if I began calling them constantly to go have a few drinks.
This desire to get away with a few drinks wasn't a once or twice kind of experience, it literally lasted for many years. When my children began acting like unruly teens or when my own son began displaying abusive behavior that desire to run away with a drink or two would ring in my thoughts. To this day I'm grateful for my friends advice, because it did help me avoid the trap of substance abuse to escape the difficult challenge of coping with living as a single parent after surviving domestic violence.
The trouble with escaping through substances is that it is a pattern of response that begins harmlessly, it starts with a drink or two after a difficult day that slowly becomes a 6-pack and before long drowning sorrows in a few drinks is a nightly occurrence that lasts for awhile longer than intended. If this pattern continues, it can easily become a full blown addiction. Not because a terrible person had a few drinks, but because the problem creeps up on you. like most out of control things in our lives the problem didn't show up as something you can't handle it started out as something under control but, one day you wake up and realize it has become something you can't control.
It wasn't that I couldn't drink, I just had a personal guideline I needed to follow.... do it WITH someone else.
If you are struggling, or are worried your loved one might be consider reaching out. Even if you are not ready to take big steps, today is a great day to take a small one. Start with looking at the resources available to help you when the day comes that you ARE ready.
Thank you Drug Rehab for all you do to look beyond addition to see the human who is hurting and struggling! Thank you for being willing to help heal the valuable person who deserves the chance to recover. https://www.drugrehab.com/addiction/
One of the dynamics about domestic violence survivors that is often survivors are single parents for a time. During the first months everyone is adjusting to the new dynamics of being part of a single parent family. For those who care about a single parent, these tips might help you see some single parents in new ways.
1. We Don't Have Much Time
Single parents are responsible for every single task that is required to maintain and run a household. Often they are the only driver in the home and when there are multiple children, getting them to and from activities is a major challenge. Practices often begin or end at similar times, this might explain why single parents can run a bit early or late picking up or dropping off children.
Want to help?
Provide some time saving tips. Offer to do things that will provide the single mom with an extra few minutes. For example pick up or drop off of the single parents child when your child attends the same event anyway. It might require a 5 minute detour on your part, but for a single parent this simple act of kindness that provides her with a little time, one of the greatest gifts you can offer.
2. We Can't Volunteer
We know that PTO, Team Moms, Classroom parties and community service are important for our children. Single parents are aware of the time and energy required to volunteer and help our children in these ways. We just don't have enough time in the day. If we do find an extra few minutes it is probably going to be spent cleaning a bathroom or running an extra load of laundry. Regardless of how amazing the cause is that you want us to volunteer for, we just can't.
Want to help?
Let her know sometimes it is best to say "no" to volunteering. If you lead a group that needs volunteers, don't ask someone who can't help to pay more money if they are unable to volunteer. To a single parent this fee (fine) feels like punishment. It is also reinforcing the guilt they already feel for not being more available to be super parent for their children. Single parents are spread thin and are typically living on one income, so the other thing they are often running short on is money.
3. We are Not Charity Cases
Okay, we absolutely do struggle sometimes and are often financially strapped, but we don't want your pity. We don't wear the title of 'single parent' as a badge of hardship. We work harder than most parents because we have to and if we mention that we are a single parent it is because we hope you'll offer a little grace when we don't measure up to the same expectations as families with two parents. One of the worst feelings in the world is to be given a gift by a friend in the name of charity that we don't want or need.
Want to help?
Ask before donating your unwanted goods to a single parent. It actually creates more work for a single parent to go through your unwanted items or dispose of them if they do not need the things that you've generously donated to them. Another good rule to keep in mind when donating, is if something is in such poor condition you can't use it then nobody else can either.
4. Our Children are Not Heathens
It is no secret that children of single parents tend to be a little more independent and can be more vocal about what they need or want. Sometimes they will make poor choices, but these choices are not because they are children of a single parent, learning from our poor choices is part of being a child.
Want to help?
Don't blame any situation on the fact that the child is from a single parent home, instead listen and be supportive. Trying to decide where a parent failed isn't going to help what the parent and child are going through right now, so stop wasting time trying to figure out what the parent 'should' have done. Support the parent and child by identifying what CAN be done and help them locate the resources to make those things happen.
5. Our Children Do Struggle With Feeling Completely Alone
One of the hardest holidays for children of single parents is by far mothers and fathers day because the entire nature of the holiday emphasizes the struggle of parents. Most children miss the other parent even if they feel the separation is needed. At most sports events the children of single parents have only one if any parent watching their game, and they are often the ones sitting on the sidelines during the games because they don't have someone with time to ensure they attend the extra practices. Single parents are not typically the families with resources to ensure their child has the best opportunities the coach can think of. As a result. the children of single parents are often overlooked and less coached than the other children on the team. They are by a large percentage the 'bench warmers'.
Want to help?
Offer to practice a little extra with the child of a single parent. For one the child will get a little extra attention and for two you will be supporting a single parent who is spread too thin.
These are just a few of the ideas on how to help a single parent, check here for our future blog with even more ideas on how to help a single parent navigate the world of parenting alone.
We are asked many similar questions in the course of the day. One question stands out among the others as a direct clue about what it feels like to be mixed up in an abusive relationship.
Imagine walking into a complete strangers office and one of the first questions you ask is: "Am I the only one?". What circumstances must have occurred for this to be one of the deepest burning questions on your heart.
While it can be complicated to answer a question like this, the short answer is "NO", statistics show that about 1 of every 4 women experience abuse at some time in their lives and that relationship abuse is most common between the ages of 16-30 years. Millions of theories are floating around about why, but the reality is that this means everyone reading this blog probably said "hello" to someone today who is experiencing abuse right now.
What disheartening news for someone who thinks abuse is a horrible thing that few people experience, but it's powerfully comforting to the person tearfully asking the question to know they are not alone.
Now, what can we do about it?
We might consider investing in millions of bubbles to reduce direct human contact, maybe then we could eliminate the annoyance of people misusing one another. The practical side of me knows this isn't even a possible solution, but it does make for a fun visual.
If you want to help reduce the abuse epidemic here are a few ideas to help:
1. Don't abuse others
This seems so obvious that it shouldn't need to be stated. However, social media is crawling with comments and statements that people would likely not say if they were face to face. So, it remains something that needs to be said; Don't act like a jerk even if you are hidden behind a computer screen.
2. Remind the victim that they matter to you.
One of the reasons many people won't get help when they are experiencing abuse is due to the controlling dynamics that are fueling the abuse in the first place. Abuse works best when the victim is convinced that they are lucky to have the relationship. You can make a difference by reminding a victim that you are glad they are part of your life.
There are many other things you can do to help, but these two are things we can each do without much effort. If we all do it, we will make a major impact in ending the abuse epidemic in our society.
Our authors are just a group of caring individuals who are passionate about letting others know about domestic violence. The posts provided are intended to provide information only. If you have questions or concerns we strongly recommend that you contact a professional who can help you sort through your unique situation.