Surviving An Abusive Relationship

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When she married her ex-husband in 1999, Lauren,* a mother of three, never dreamed she would find herself needing the services of CHANA.

“In the beginning, my husband seemed like a nice guy. He seemed devoted, had a lovely, welcoming family and got along great with my son,” she recalls. “I was a single mother and wanted to give my son a daddy.”

Lauren says it took about two years before her husband began to show signs of abusive behavior. Unable to find support through her husband’s family and not wanting to burden her own family who lived across the country, Lauren turned to Jewish Community Services (JCS) and was referred to CHANA. The healing process for her and her children began there.

“CHANA is the ultimate Jewish mother,” she says. “They take you in, feed you, get you any help you need and completely validate your feelings.”

CHANA helps victims and survivors of physical, sexual, financial, verbal and emotional abuse, neglect and trauma by providing crisis intervention services, legal aid, individual and group counseling and prevention education. “We provide services that enhance self-worth, give options and support,” says CHANA’s Director, Dr. Nancy Aiken. “We want you to be safe, emotionally and physically. Sometimes people think that if they don’t need a shelter, are financially well off or aren’t planning to get a divorce, they don’t need CHANA. That isn’t true. We can offer support and education, whether you stay or go.”

While physical and sexual abuse are the most commonly recognized forms of domestic violence, many of us are less familiar with financial, verbal and emotional abuse. These types of abuse may be more difficult to identify, but can be devastating to their victims.

“Being controlling about money, not sharing financial information, asking a lot about what things cost, wanting to see receipts, even when the money being spent belongs to the woman … these are some warning signs that a relationship is unhealthy,” says Aiken. Lauren, who experienced financial abuse, verbal and emotional abuse with her former husband, agrees.

“[Financial abuse] is horrific. Someone is controlling you by withholding grocery money. Sometimes there was no money unless I agreed to have sex with him. I tried to work outside the home but my ex would always change his schedule so that I would have to call in and tell my job I couldn’t come. I constantly suffered the stress of being fired. At the beginning of the marriage, I first attended medical massage therapy school, but after I finished and passed the national board exam, he refused to give me the money for my license, so I wasn’t able to practice,” she recalls. “Financial abuse is debilitating. It weakens your self-esteem and causes you to do things you wouldn’t ordinarily do. And it is harder for other people to understand. But when I went to CHANA, they weren’t shocked at all. They helped me to name it.”

Adina* was also surprised to find that CHANA had heard stories similar to her own many times over. Click to read entire article.



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