What services does Willpowered Woman offer to women experiencing intimate partner abuse?
One on one support, referral to a therapist, classes and support groups.
How does Willpowered Woman one on one support work?
We will assign you to one of our advocates. If you have left your partner, we understand that you are going through a time of huge transition, so we want to make sure that you have one person consistently supporting you so you don’t feel alone and you feel fully supported. Whenever you want to speak to your advocate, you can send them an email to set up a time to talk. If you want to speak to them right away, they will try to accommodate you.
What is abuse?
Abuse means a misuse of power and control. You can be abused by a stranger, family member or an intimate partner. There are seven types of abuse: physical, emotional, financial, verbal, spiritual, stalking/cyber stalking and sexual. If this is occurring in an intimate partner relationship, it is referred to as intimate partner abuse. Abuse can lead to a deterioration in your self-esteem, self-confidence and cause you to be self-critical and blame yourself for your partner's behavior.
Can your instincts save you from getting into an abusive relationship?
Yes, yes and yes! It’s all about trusting yourself and when you listen and act upon those instincts, it can save you. Willpowered Woman clients have said they wished they had trusted themselves and their instincts when they first met their partners because they knew there was something not right from the beginning.
What are some of the main warning signs of an abuser?
Jealousy is one of the most important determining factors and it can surface very early on in the relationship, disguised as, “It’s only because I love you so much.” Jealousy is not love.
Abuse is all about control: it may start with small things, like telling you what you wear.
Another huge warning sign is when the relationship progresses too fast. This is akin to the term “being swept off your feet.” This is done to distract you from the warning signs that the person is unhealthy.
They will be charming and supportive. There will be a honeymoon period: if it appears to be too good to be true, it probably is.
They will always be the victim in the stories they tell you, because they don’t take responsibility for their lives or for their actions.
What are some other warning signs?
Note: not all of these warning signs occur in abusive relationships. Only some of them need to occur for it to be categorized as abuse. The main thing to pay attention to is the ways your partner controls you.
How can I tell if I am in an abusive relationship?
Abuse can take a while to have obvious effects on you. It’s like putting a frog in a pot of cold water that is set to boil very slowly. It’s only until it’s boiling, do you realize that you’re in a pot of boiling water and by then it’s too late because your life is in danger.
The most reliable way to know if you are being abused is by looking at how your behavior might have changed since starting the relationship. Are you feeling less confident? Do you not feel like yourself? Do you feel like everything's your fault? Do you feel like you can’t do anything right? Do you feel nervous? Do you feel paranoid that your partner is monitoring you?
What are some other ways I may behave if I am in an abusive relationship?
What is emotional abuse?
Emotional abuse is the systematic breaking down of your emotional well-being where you end up doubting yourself all of the time. You don’t know who you are. It is a series of repeated incidents – whether intentional or not – that insults, threatens, isolates, degrades and/or humiliates you.
Abuse that intends to degrade, insult and humiliate you:
Insulting you in public or in private.
Making you feel bad about yourself.
Treating you like a servant.
Calling you names.
Talking down to you.
Abuse that intends to isolate you:
Making you feel guilty for wanting to spend time with other people.
Using Male Privilege: being the one to define men’s and women’s roles in your relationship.
Putting down your friends and family.
Abuse that intends to control you:
Making you think you’re crazy by setting up scenarios that make you question your reality.
Playing mind games.
Making all of the big decisions in the relationship.
Not letting you have access to any money.
Using angry outbursts to make you do what they want.
Is emotional abuse damaging?
Yes, it is very damaging. The longer you stay in an emotionally abusive relationship, the longer it takes to get out and recover. Some say that it is even more damaging than physical abuse because it’s not as obvious, so you may be enduring emotional abuse without even noticing.
What are the signs of physical abuse?
Your partner doesn’t have to cause any real great harm physically for it to be considered physical abuse. The main determining factor is that they use violence or the threat of violence to control what you do, who you see, who you speak to and any other types of controlling behavior. A push can be considered physical abuse if it’s purpose is to control you.
The physical types of abuse can be hair pulling, biting, shaking, pushing, pinching, choking, kicking, confinement, slapping, hitting, punching, using weapons and depriving you of food or sleep.
Physical abuse can be subtle, there can be warning signs that your partner is going to use violence in the future. We call this the threat of violence. This includes, smashing anything like glasses, plates, bottles, punching walls, telling you to “watch it or you will be sorry.” You may feel scared of your partner or they may have angry outbursts. Anger is also a sign that physical abuse may start to happen. You may feel like you’re walking on eggshells, not wanting to do anything that will make your partner angry.
What are the signs of sexual abuse?
Sexual abuse is unwanted sexual touching in public or in private and/or rape.
It is considered rape when your partner:
What is Forced Pregnancy?
Forced pregnancy, otherwise known as Reproductive Coercion is when a partner forces you to get pregnant against your will. They do it through different tactics that involve disregarding your consent or disregarding your wish to not become pregnant by sabotaging your birth control plan.
Fact: 1 in 4 women in abusive relationships become pregnant due to forced pregnancy.
What are the signs of Forced Pregnancy?
Why does Forced Pregnancy happen?
As reported by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), women describe their Experience of Reproductive Coercion:
“He was like: ‘I should just get you pregnant and have a baby with you so that I know I will be in your life forever'”
“I was on the birth control, and I was still taking it, and he ended up getting mad and flushing it down the toilet, so I ended up getting pregnant.”
Having a child with an abusive partner ties the woman to them for life. This is the ultimate goal of an abusive partner: to be able to continue to have control over you. If the woman ends up leaving the relationship, the abusive partner often drags the woman through court with constant custody battles, false accusations, unnecessary psych evaluations, which often causes financial hardship to the woman or worse, the woman is unable to obtain a skilled attorney in dealing with these very tricky and manipulative situations, which then results in loss of custody rights. The court system is predominantly a patriarchal system that works against the woman. Willpowered Woman speaks directly of these scenarios because we have seen them first hand.
The abuser knows that when a woman is pregnant or has a child, they will be able to exert more control in the relationship, because the woman feels more vulnerable having to consider the welfare of her child so finds it more difficult to leave. The abuser oftens use the child as a pawn in order to coerce and scare the woman.
Key Takeaways about why Forced Pregnancy happens:
How many women are affected by forced pregnancy?
Fact: 25% of pregnancies that occur in abusive relationships are due to forced pregnancy. This means that 1 in 4 women in an abusive relationship are affected by forced pregnancy.
According to The Expert Review of Obstetrics & Gynecology in a 2010 study, 25% of pregnancies that occur in abusive relationships are due to forced pregnancy. We want to help women so they are not forced to have a child with an abuser when it’s not what they want.
What is the Ripple on Effect when women take control of their reproductive health?
Each year 15 million children witness intimate partner abuse in the US. 25% of these children were born due to forced pregnancy. Women who prevent forced pregnancy are given the chance to leave their abusive relationships, create a healthier relationship with someone else and bring children into a world free of intimate partner abuse.
If all women are aware that forced pregnancy is a real issue and can identify that their partner is trying to get them pregnant, what is the ripple on effect of preventing forced pregnancy?
3.5 million children could be born into healthy homes.
This reduces the number of children witnessing intimate partner abuse down to 11.5 million.
1.75 million young boys will be brought up with healthy male role models.
What are the signs of Financial Abuse?
How many women are affected by financial abuse?
In 98% of intimate abuse cases, the partner controls the finances so a woman cannot leave or has to face poverty and homelessness in order to leave.
How do I know when things are escalating to a crazy degree?
Abusers are creators of chaos and craziness. It’s partly the reason why they get away with everything in the relationship and sometimes for a long time.
Signs of escalation and crazy making:
What is Gaslighting?
Have you ever found yourself questioning your own memory after an argument with someone? Chances are, they were gaslighting you. Gaslighting is a form of emotional manipulation through which an abuser makes you doubt your own sanity.
There are many warning signs that will help you figure out if someone is using gaslighting as a way of manipulating you. While most of the warning signs are very obvious to outsiders, it is much more difficult for a person in an abusive relationship to recognize and acknowledge them.
Here are the top six signs you are in an unhealthy relationship and may be a victim of gaslighting:
Should we try couples counselling before I leave for good?
No. Most therapists are not well versed in intimate partner abuse, so despite what they tell you, couples counselling will not work. The issue is with the abuser, not with the relationship. Couples counselling is beneficial for relationship problems, but intimate partner abuse is an illegal criminal act, not a relationship problem. Intimate partner abuse is the responsibility of the offender, regardless of perspective or provocation, is a chosen strategy and the offender is solely capable of changing his behavior
Why should we not try couples counselling?
It endangers your life because it can easily become about blaming you when focusing on couple’s interaction and ignoring the denial, minimization and deception occurring in the relationship with regards to intimate partner abuse. It increases your isolation, as you may fear to speak in therapy sessions, for fear of retribution and more violence at home. It implies you are responsible for seeing that you batterer gets help. If you don’t have a couples counsellor that understands the dynamics of intimate partner abuse, they can be easily manipulated by the abuser who is good at putting on a good front and playing the victim.
Is the abuse my fault?
No. Abuse is never your fault. Your partner blames you for their behavior so they can continue to do it and you will stay.
Why do I find it difficult to leave?
Leaving an abusive relationship is a challenge, but abuse and violence is never ok. The thing that may have you going back to an abusive relationship is something called the Cycle of Violence.
There is a honeymoon period where things are going really well with your partner – they are loving, caring and considerate. There is the tension building period where you feel like you are walking on eggshells and are doing everything in your power to manage your partner’s angry outbursts.
Finally, there is an explosion, where your partner may have an angry outburst, yell, kick you, punch the wall, strangle you, grab you or push you. After this happens, your partner begs for your forgiveness and promises to change and get help. They start to be charming, kind, thoughtful and affectionate again. For a few weeks, they pretend to research ways to get help. Your partner pretends like the outburst never even happened and goes back to the honeymoon period. This period makes you think that your partner has changed and is sorry for their behavior, but then the cycle of violence starts all over again.
You stay because you love your partner, you want the abuse to stop and you want to believe them when they apologize and say that it will never happen again. It is very painful to leave someone you love, but you must be the number one priority in your life because only you can save yourself.
I love my partner, I don’t want to leave. What should I do?
Leaving is a process. The reality can be very confronting and painful, but if you can start to write down the negative aspects of the relationship, continue to add to that list and read it as often as possible, this will help you realize that your partner does not have your best interests at heart.
If you want support, we recommend signing up for Willpowered Woman’s services. We will assign you to an advocate when you sign up and then you can email your advocate and set up a time to chat. Your advocate is there to support you and if you want to speak to them right away, they will try to accommodate you the best they can.
Will my relationship go back to the way it was in the beginning when there was no abuse occurring?
No. An abusers main goal is to have control over you. If they have been abusive once, they will do it again. They can’t just switch off their abusive behavior.
What is the best thing to do if there is violence, including sexual abuse occurring in the relationship?
Your safety is the number one most important thing. Physical abuse can be subtle, there can be warning signs that your partner is going to use violence in the future. This includes, smashing things (glasses, plates, bottles etc.), punching walls, telling you to “watch it or you will be sorry.” You may feel scared of your partner and you’re not really sure why because they haven’t ever physically hurt you.
If there is violence or a threat of violence, it tends to escalate and you are risking your life when you stay. We recommend working with a Willpowered Woman advocate to come up with a safety plan so you can find a way to leave. Do not tell your partner you are planning to leave because this is the most dangerous part of ending an abusive relationship.
If my partner is promising to change, should I believe them and stay in the relationship?
It is your choice, but we recommend no. It all comes down to the cycle of violence, the violence/abuse will start happening again at some point after the honeymoon period when you’re feeling like you’re walking on eggshells.
If my partner is going to a batterers intervention program, should I return to the relationship?
It is your choice but we recommend no. Only 10% of men who attend batterers intervention programs actually make a change in their abusive behaviors. Most men go because their partner has requested it or it has been ordered by the court, and not because they know they have a problem and need help. When the abuser doesn’t go of their own accord, they continue to be in denial about their abusive behavior and don’t make a change. Instead, they learn tactics on how to disguise their abusive behavior more effectively. As soon as you return to the relationship, the abuser will drop the program because they have used it solely as a way to get you back into the relationship.
Can I call the Police?
Yes. Involving the Police means that you can get protection and can start to have a record of what is happening, just in case you need it in the future.
When my partner says or insinuates they will kill me, should I believe them?
Yes, you should absolutely believe them. It is one of the major warning signs of homicide. Each year 1600 women are killed by their intimate partners in the US. It is a very serious issue that should not be taken lightly. Homicide victims were told countless times by their partner that they will kill them before they were killed.
What are the different ways my partner can say/insinuate they will kill me?
They say that they will kill you more than once. Availability of weapons and/or they bring guns/knives out for you to see them. They express fantasies or dreams of killing you. They have strangled you or used a pillow to suffocate you. They say, “If I can’t have you, then no one can.” There has been an escalation in physical violence and their verbal threats to kill you.
What are some other risk factors of homicide?
Your partner relies on you heavily to organize and sustain their life, idolizing you or keeping both of you isolated from the rest of the world. Stalking, hostage taking, abduction or violence when there is a threat of you leaving.
If my partner is threatening to kill me what should I do next?
We recommend working with a Willpowered Woman advocate to create a safety plan.
What is the best thing to do if I really want the relationship to be over?
If you think you are in any physical danger, planning to leave is the best option. We recommend working with a Willpowered Woman advocate to create a safety plan.
Once you leave, cutting contact with your abusive partner is always a good option - it helps you see how unhealthy the relationship was, helps you move on and start to build your self-esteem again. Once you leave you can file a restraining order so you are protected.
Should I file for a restraining order?
If you are in physical danger and/or are being harassed by your partner, it is wise to seek protection through a restraining order. For more information, go to your nearest court for their drop in hours to find out more information.
What is a restraining order?
A restraining order is a court order issued by the civil court for your abuser to not contact you and stay away from you within a 100 yard radius of your work, car and house.
I still love my partner, but I know I shouldn’t go back. How can I ensure I don’t go back?
We understand that it is very difficult to let go of someone you love because there were also good times in the relationship, so we recommend writing a list of the negative things about the relationship. Every time you think of the positive aspects of the relationship, read this list. It also helps to have an advocate to speak to. Willpowered Woman will assign you to an advocate when you sign up for our services, so you can email your advocate and set up a time to chat. Your advocate is there to support you and if you want to speak to them right away, they will try to accommodate you the best they can.
Focus on the type of relationship you want to have. Write down a list of personal qualities that are important for a partner to have and start to imagine how much better that type of relationship would be.
What is a healthy relationship?
You are both equal in the relationship and both people get to weigh on issues relating to the relationship. You have complete control over your life and are able to maintain autonomy. You are able to set boundaries with your partner and for them to be adhered to and respected. You spend time together and apart. You have friends outside of the relationship and you can be friends with other men and women without your partner being distrustful or jealous. You trust one another.
What do I need to know about a partner before I get into a relationship with them?
What are some ways I can build my self-esteem?
Self-esteem is built by the things you do and what you have accomplished in your life, so always endeavor to accomplish more and more. Be ambitious and create a list of things you want to do in your life. Never give up on your dreams and what you truly want.
Look at how you feel about yourself and if it is negative, endeavour to turn that around by recognizing the good in yourself and writing it down. Write down the things you like about yourself, the things you are most proud of and remind yourself of all you have accomplished. Keep adding to those lists.
What does Willpowered Woman recommend to become self-empowered in avoiding abusive relationships?
First and foremost, believe in yourself. If you don’t, it means you rely on others to do it for you and that can be unreliable. Trust yourself and your instincts.
Look at your past, it will inform your future. Was there intimate partner abuse in your home? Were you abused by a parent or a sibling? If abuse was in any way normalized in your family of origin, explore that and deal with it so it doesn’t affect your future. Abuse does not need to be apart of your future if you are conscious about the subconscious patterns that are driving you.
When you see warning signs and you stay: you are playing a part by choosing to stay. Know that you deserve better, write a pros and cons list and if the cons outweigh the pros, figure out a way to leave. When you love someone, the only way to get out is via your intellect.
How can I be financially empowered?
What should women know before starting to date?
How can I maintain clarity in a relationship?
What is mansplaining?
Mansplaining is when a man explains something to a woman without her asking or without knowing if she already knows what he’s talking about. It is based around the sexist stereotype that a woman doesn’t know anything and needs a man to explain it to her. It is damaging to a woman’s self-esteem and the ability for her to find her voice. To have a man explain something to you and even if you respond in a way that implies you don't want their advice, but the man doesn't listen and continues to talk: it's degrading, demeaning, erodes your confidence and makes you feel inferior. The main thing is, it makes you doubt yourself and doubt = lower confidence in oneself. The second thing is that when someone is not listening to what you are saying, it makes you feel invisible and invisibility = lower confidence in oneself.
How can I find my voice?
Practice speaking up. When you want to say something, you may get this uncomfortable feeling in your stomach, push through and say what you want to say. The more you practice, the more you will be able to speak up.
If someone is not listening or understanding what you are saying, clarify by explaining what you meant. Ignoring and not clarifying that they misunderstood what you said can deteriorate your self-confidence. Sometimes, a tactic that is used to quiet a woman’s voice, is not listening to what she says and continuing to not listen, even if she does clarify several times. This means that you need to become very sure about what you are saying, so you can advocate for yourself and not let your voice be trampled on. This means very firmly saying what you want to say in a stern tone until the other person knows that you are not going to back down.
Why is it important that women respect other women?
Women need support from each other. It is important to look out for each other and stick up for one another because if women aren’t doing it for each other, no one else is. Never let a partner come in between you and your friends. Lift other women up. Help women: at high school, college, in the workplace or if they ask for your help. Men have each others backs: endeavor to do the same and women will go far. Be non-judgmental: seek to understand one another.