What Do I Do If My Options Are Surviving Abuse Or Facing Homelessness?

By Katie Golway

My therapist refers to my life as a “layered trauma.”

A childhood of neglect and denial left me with a festering anger. My mother denied me self love by harping on my weight. My father denied me safety by pounding on the door of my bedroom, frightening me out of sleep and causing my sensitivity to sound. I could not wait to leave my parents’ house behind me.

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In search of myself, I moved away to Orlando for an internship and then to finish school. I was beyond thrilled to be miles away from my family. My communication with home was downgraded to a phone call. However, my newfound independence was an illusion. I relied on their support because between school and work, I could not afford my own  rent. I moved back a year later when my grandfather died. His passing shook me to my core because I could not say goodbye. I still felt a warped obligation to keep my household together.

The fear of not being able to afford a stable lifestyle  is a common concern that keeps people in abusive homes. According to the National Domestic Hotline’s power and control wheel, people use intimidation and threats to keep someone obedient. In order for me to keep a roof over my head, I have to keep my mouth shut.

The best advice I can offer those in the same situation is to work. Saving money is a significant step towards leaving your household. I am frequently torn between my savings and treating myself. I pump the brakes when I remind myself I need a stable home for the sake of my mental health. Unfortunately, living costs money.

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As tempting as it is, do not isolate yourself when living in an abusive situation. I linger in my room because, as an independent adult, I resent having to tell my parents where I am going. However, a change in perspective is important. Knowing you will eventually have to return is intimidating, so enjoy the time that you have to yourself.

Fortunately, you do not have to spend much money to have fun. Museums and aquariums cost little to nothing for a day pass. I recommend revisiting a favorite movie or spending time at an animal shelter.

Establish your space and what your boundaries are. Do not compromise yourself. I have to continuously remind my mother not to touch me. I keep a significant space from my father. Survival is a basic instinct. Know that ultimately this is a temporary situation.

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