Confusion - 16’’ by 16’’
One common abuse tactic, gaslighting, is to create in the target a sense of unreality, confusion, and a mind-set of not trusting their own perception of the situation. When the victim believes things to be one way based on their own perceptions and also believes what the abuser tells them or manipulates them to believe, the target experiences a state of holding two or more contradictory thoughts or beliefs at one time resulting in a state of anxious confusion.
The tactic of isolation can exacerbate the confusion because at some point there is no one to help sort out the confusion except the abused and the abuser... which all works against the abused.
Family and friends are also in a state of confusion not knowing what has happened to their relationship with the victim. They could have a very stable long term relationship and watch it crumble before their eyes. Family and friends can be accused of doing things that they never did based on things the abuser has manipulated the victim into believing. The victim can start believing they had a completely different past than the one they actually lived. This can be particularly traumatic for family and friends since it can sometimes appear out of nowhere.
Ten million Americans experience domestic abuse every year. Ten million. Someone I love and care about is a victim of abuse and has been for over twenty years. Odds are you or someone you know is a victim as well. I have learned a lot about domestic abuse over the last two decades and the number one fact I have learned is that most incidents are never reported. Ten million people every year and that number doesn't reflect the full scope of abuse in the US, as many people aren't able to safely share and report their stories. I am a doer. I like to make and fix things. Sadly, I cannot fix things for the person in my life who is being abused. But, I can speak up. And I can sew. And hopefully I can make a difference. (Statistics from the CDC)
If you have a friend or family member who is experiencing abuse here are some things you can do to help. The most important thing to remember is that the choice to leave or not is theirs. You can't make them leave a bad situation but you can be supportive and helpful in their choice. They will need someone they can count on when/if they do decide to end or leave the abusive relationship.
Domestic Violence knows knows no boundaries when it comes to race/gender/sexuality/age/socioeconomic status/geographic location/culture.
Remember, domestic abuse affects ten million people in the US every year. If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, please know that the folks at the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1 800 799 SAFE or thehotline.org) are ready to listen and support you, as well as refer you to a local program or organization. If you observe someone being abused, you can also call the hotline.
All of the quilts in the Domestic Abuse series so far can be viewed here.