The point of view from a victim

Home   The point of view from a victim

Susan Faler, Community Relations Director

SOS has four programs which help empower and advocate for victims and family affected by sexual and domestic violence, child abuse and neglect. Our services are offered in Chase, Coffey, Greenwood, Lyon, Morris and Osage. We are diverse in our funding from grants to individual donations and events.

Now, let’s take a walk in the shoes of a victim. To those of us who work with victims, it’s no surprise they often don’t report abuse or that they return to the abusive situation. As a matter of fact, on average, a victim will try to leave seven times, before leaving for good.  Why? Because abusers use a variety of tactics to gain and maintain power and control over the victim. They often choose the circumstances of their violence, including the amount of injury inflicted by their acts. They bare sole responsibility for their actions.

Victims may experience a combination of tactics for the abuse to gain and maintain power over them including:

  • Coercion, threat making and/or carrying out threats to do something to hurt; threatening to leave, commit suicide, report them to welfare, make the victim drop charges or not testify or make them do illegal things.
  • Intimidation by using looks, actions, gesture, destroying property, abusing pets or displaying weapons.
  • Emotional abuse by putting the victim down, calling them names, making them think they‘re crazy, playing mind games, humiliation, making them feel bad about themselves or feel guilty.
  • Isolation by controlling what they do, who they see and talk to, what they read, where they go, limiting outside involvement, using jealousy to justify actions.
  • Using children to make them feel guilty about the children, using children to relay messages, using visitation to harass them, threatening to take children away.
  • Use economic abuse preventing them from getting or keeping a job, making the victim ask for money, giving them an allowance, taking their money, not letting them know about or have access to family income.
  • Minimizing, denying or blaming the victim by making light of the abuse and not taking concerns about it seriously. Saying the abuse didn’t happen, shifting responsibility for abusive behavior or saying the victim caused the abuse.

Victims consider staying for these reasons:

  • Abuser may threaten to severely injure or kill them or their children if they leave
  • Lack of affordable housing
  • Loss of economic resources
  • Abuser promises they will change
  • Cultural, societal or religious beliefs about marriage, families and children
  • Concerns about children having two parents in the home
  • Immigration issues.

SOS staff is educated in working with victims. They provide counseling and safety planning as well as support for the victim. They NEVER tell the victim what to do, it is the client’s decision to go or stay.

Here’s a poem an SOS client wrote about her experience. Read it slowly. Put yourself in her shoes and soak in each line, for we can’t really understand another person’s experiences until we’ve walked in their shoes.

“When I Recover”

When I recover:  I will call myself beautiful and mean it

When I recover:  I won’t be paranoid when my boyfriend puts his arms around my waist

When I recover:  I will thank him for saving me

When I recover:  Compliments won’t feel like lies

When I recover:  Showers won’t burn

When I recover:  I’ll trust myself with my prescriptions

When I recover:  I won’t flinch every time my boyfriend touches me.

When I recover:  I won’t blame myself anymore

When I recover:  My memories won’t haunt me anymore

When I recover:  I will get tattoos because I want them, not just for the pain

When I recover:  I will be able to believe him when he says “you’re beautiful”

When I recover:  I will take my medicine correctly

When I recover:  I won’t have to apologize for being quiet

When I recover:  I won’t worry that he’s cheating on me

When I recover:  I won’t regret having my children

When I recover:  I will be able to walk away

When I recover:  Love will be love not just not wanting to be alone

When I recover:  I won’t be tempted to take apart my sharpener

When I recover:  Diet pills and water won’t be my main food group

When I recover:  I won’t be afraid to be alone

When I recover:  I won’t need inspirational quotes

When I recover:  I will love myself as much as I love him

When I recover:  My thoughts will be mine again

When I recover:  I won’t have a “When I recover list”

When I recover:  I will be a good mommy

To schedule an SOS speaker for your classroom, church, civic or service organization, contact Susan Faler, 620-343-8799 or sfaler@soskansas.com  For more information about SOS visit www.soskansas.com; “Like” us Facebook: SOS, Inc.; or follow us on Twitter: @SOSKansas