Dear Dr. Beal, I’ve been in a relationship for 15 years. I am so unhappy. I have suffered from both physical abuse and emotional abuse from my boyfriend for the majority of that time. He promised me after the first time he hit me that he wouldn’t do it again but that was a lie. I want to end in this relationship but I am afraid for my child and myself.
During this pandemic the domestic violence cases have risen. I am so happy that you have the strength to reach out for help. Most people say “Why don’t they just leave?” and they blame the victim for remaining. I understand that its not that easy to just walk away especially if you don’t have a plan or no place to go. When a person hits someone and apologize that it will never happen again, that is usually not what takes place. The abuse continues and usually becomes worst. In therapy we talk about the cycle of abuse and how that works. Abuse is about power. Often the abuser wants to gain power and control. While leaving an abusive relationship is not easy, you deserve to live free of fear. I would recommend counseling to help you develop a safe exit plan. After deciding to leave, it is important to have a safety plan in place. Steps include:
- Being prepared to leave at a moment’s notice
- Practice escaping quickly and safely
- Make and memorize a list of emergency contacts.
- Prepare your child close to the time you are expecting to leave. Have a backpack to include toys and personal items depending on your child’s age.
Protecting yourself after you leave is imperative to living free of fear. A few things to remember:
- Keep your new location a secret
- Consider getting a restraining order
- Change your daily route to and from work
Remember love doesn’t hurt. Its important that you go to counseling and seek out support groups as part of your healing. Due to the trauma that you have experienced you will need to heal and eventually learn how to develop new healthy relationships.
Dear Dr. Beal, I do not know what to do about my son. He is staying out late and coming home early in the morning. He graduated for high school, but dropped out of college and has been home since. I want to help him, but he does not want my help. How do I communicate with him in order to help get his life back on track?
Dear Reader: Relationships with adult children can be difficult because they are adults, but you are still taking care of them. Talk to your son and acknowledge that he is an adult, but you have rules. Outline your rules as far as time for coming in and out of your home. Explain that during this pandemic, and racial climate how the stress of knowing that he is safe is especially important to you and you don’t want to live in fear. Talk about future goals and ask how you can help him achieve those goals. Maybe he can look at a new major than what was previously chosen. Have him take a career test they are free and can be found in counseling centers on junior colleges and four year colleges. Your son may feel as though he is disappointing you since he has dropped out of college, but let him know you are willing to give him a second chance. Do not try and force him into anything, but simply aim to understand his thought process. Then, you may be able to help bring him opportunities that align with his interests. However, if he is not receptive to this approach, you may need to have a conversation with him with a moderator present or school counselor. Maybe someone from your church, or a licensed professional can help. Explain that every parent wants the best for their children no matter how old they are.
Dear Dr. Beal, I am having mixed emotions about school not starting in the fall. My daughter will be an eighth grader and last year it was really difficulty before the pandemic because she didn’t have any friends. The people who she thought were her friends would leave her out and she was often sad. Since school is not starting how do I help her?
Dear Reader, Middle school is often a difficult time for girls, and forming the right peer group. Come early adolescence both boys and girls become more socially aggressive with each other as they try to find for a place to socially belong among their independent peers. This need becomes more important as they experience less childhood closeness with their parents, relatives and family members. Unfortunately, during this time social cruelty at school comes into serious play – some kids start treating each other meanly to secure social membership and standing. Most commonly attacked are students who appear “different,” for example those who have not fully developed physically, or those who are overweight, too skinny, or may have skin problems etc. During this time is where the forms of social cruelty start teasing, ganging up, exclusion, bullying, and often times rumoring. Since we are in the middle of the pandemic you are given more time to spend with her to help increase her self-esteem and self-worth. Find what she is good at or what she likes and help her to develop that interest or talent. Search for positive groups online, or church organizations and have her join. Help her learn to problem solve and find new friends. Start with affirmations. Have her repeat them daily. Examples to start with:
A. You are beautiful
B. You can achieve anything
C. Don’t let anyone take your power,
D. you are special
Let her know the right friends will come along soon.
Please find Resources Below:
HISD, “Let’s Stay Connected” Crisis mental health hotline. Counselors are available 24/7 to talk about crisis offer support and provide resources.
Houston Area Women’s Center
Domestic Violence Hotline: 713-528-2121
Toll Free Line: 800-256-0551
Non-Residential Programs for Victims of Abuse
Legal Assistance – HPD/Family Violence Unit
Provides services for all domestic violence incidents that take place within the city limits. Will file charges and take statements in cases of domestic violence and provides short-term crisis counseling and referral. Women should be prepared to spend a minimum of 2-3 hours at unit. Witnesses can make statements in person or they can write a statement and have it notarized for the survivor to take with them.
Harris County Sheriff’s Family Violence Unit
Provides services for all domestic violence incidents that take place within the Sheriff’s jurisdiction. Victim’s assistance office will investigate all complaints of domestic violence and assist survivors with filing charges.
Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse
The Legal Advocacy Project provides, information about the legal system, and referrals to resources for any survivor of domestic violence. Also provides legal representation in family law matters to low-income survivors of domestic violence who reside in Harris County. Individuals accepted for legal representation are responsible for paying Harris County filing fees and court costs.
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“Good Mental Health equals Mental Wealth”