Isolation: When You Can’t Escape The Abuser
Schools, jobs, outdoor hobbies and social places were the escape routes for women and children going through abuse pre-pandemic. Children could get away from abusive parents by going to boarding schools, friends, and have another life and environment away from their abusive parents. Women could escape the abuser to their jobs and chamas for some peaceful time alone and sometimes get the help and advice they need to escape their abusers.
Leaving an abusive relationship is hard because of several reasons:
- In most cases, men are the breadwinners or earn a substantially higher income such that women feel unable to afford their kids the same lifestyle. Kenya has little to no safehouses for abuse victims.
- Societal pressure to be in a perfect marriage and see the relationship through.
- Low self-esteem as a result of abuse where the victim feels they wouldn’t be able to have a great start in life again.
- Victims feel pressured to give their children a two-parent relationship, marriage and family.
- Lack of support from the extended family, the church and the society where victims meet a lot of judgement.
- In 2020, the current pandemic, unemployment, underemployment and uncertainty makes it hard for abuse victims to leave, or feel confident in their plans to leave.
- Fearing for their life – there have been cases of being threatened in case victims do leave or being murdered when they leave.
- Dependency and trauma bonding – Due to shared finances, children and wealth, the abuser and the victim depend on each other which makes it hard to leave. In addition to this, abusers often gaslight their victims such that victims feel that it’s their fault they’re being abused.
What To Do When You Can’t Leave or Escape the Abuser
If you’re going through abuse, you’re not alone. 38% of women around the world are abused by intimate partners. However, this should not define you, neither should it be the norm or what your children get accustomed to. Leaving an abuser is a process and you can start leaving today even when you still share a home or live in the same space.
Assess The Situation
Take stock of the situation, your mental health, your children’s current mental health, your finances and where you stand. Next, write down where you’d want to be in all these areas in the event you separated with your partner.
Write down what this change would mean to you and any adjustments you need to take such as:
- Would you need legal help?
- Should you open a separate and secret bank account?
- Would you and your children require psychological help and therapy and where can you get that pro-Borno or at a subsidized fee?
- Are there abuse victims communities you can join around your area?
- What would a divorce mean for your shared finances?
- If you are a stay at home mum, which jobs can you take to afford these transitions?
Join a Community of Women Going through Abuse
Joining a group of other women will help you validate your experiences in case you were being gaslit, get access to resources such as workshops and counsellors and hear successful stories of women who left, which can inspire your own story.
Document Everything in case You Need to Pursue Legal Measures
In a legal case, proof and words go hand in hand. Sometimes you might have to pursue legal measures against your partner or handle a divorce. Legal measures and divorce require papers and proof, so make sure to get yours in order if you foresee the separation not being amicable.
Create a Safety Nook In Your House Where You Can Escape To
Whether this means waking up 30 minutes earlier to read a book, make plans or having a special seat or nook where you can read a book and be alone is up to you. Find a way to ground yourself and find calm in the midst of chaos.
Do you have a child or children going through abuse? Here are the child protection hotlines:
If you are going through abuse and can’t escape the abuser, the Gender-Based Violence-free hotline is 1195. If you would like to join a community of women healing from abuse, WhatsApp +254736275978.