Make Your Exit Plan: Networking.
One of the concrete ways to get out of abuse is to build a network. You might be thinking, how? Where do I start? I’ve been isolated for years in an unhealthy and abusive relationship, and I lack support. There is a tendency to fall back into old habits and just stay because it is familiar, but I want you to know that you are worth fighting for. It is time to make your exit plan and be free from DV. Here are four steps to take action to build your network.
Step #1: Observe who you can trust
This step is essential because you are building trust with others and coming away from being isolated. Through observation, make sure they are honest people, follow through with their actions, they are genuine, and they are outside of your immediate family or circle. Think of a friend and not just a contact person. In your observations, watch to see how they interact and with others. Are they interested beyond just what their needs are? This is not a competition, but it is thinking in a mindset to find a mutual interest and build connections by talking about shows, sports, books, spirituality, social media, cooking, etc. It helps in a real relationship.
Step #2: Connect with People in Circles that are Outside of Your Abuser
This step is critical to your success because you need to keep your new connections away from your abuser. You are building live-saving bridge work as part of your exit plan. If you are working outside the home, connect with a coworker and trusted people, you know, and your abuser would not know. Keep communication with them open and real. These are people that can not only help you when you make your move to leave but can be that bridge to transition from abuse to safety to friendship support as you move into the healing process later in your journey.
Step #3: Be Real and Meaningful in the Connection
According to the National Domestic Abuse hotline they state,
“Research shows though that expressing vulnerability, the feeling of being emotionally exposed, can bring you closer to others, and strengthen connections.”
Being vulnerable takes a lot of trust and strength, but it is part of making the network more robust and reliable.
Be honest with yourself and with them. The old habits of making excuses and lying about the situation will want to pop up, so prepare yourself aware that you don’t have to use that here. This is about networking and making connections. Build that trust and, at the same time, know that being open and vulnerable is part of the risk-taking process.
Expect nothing in return. It is a challenge to do, but it is part of being a friend and connecting with others. If there is an agenda tied to it, it won’t last, so just be upfront and friendly. Make the Relationship Meaningful by focusing on transparency and showing your connections what is valuable to you. Finally, show appreciation for them by working with, telling them, or giving them something.
Step #4: Be Honest With Old Friends & Family
Friends and family have known you both in and outside of abuse. They most likely have been hurt by the manipulation the strained relationships. You need to share the reasons why as you are rekindling friendships and family connections. Share with them that you had no control over the situations.
I remember sharing with my family all the reasons why I would “cover for them or protect them.” Because I had to stay safe, I knew that if word got out before I was ready to leave that he would manipulate the situation, cause more damage, or I might fall into more harm. Help them to see the perspective that you have been in are might currently still be in.
There is power in that, honestly. There is nothing conditional about the love and friendship they are offering when you open up. Remember that in doing this risk of losing friends and family members is possible, but for the most part, you will be surprised “by the affirmative and supportive responses you get from those that love you.” It’s the small gestures, quick texts telling them they are essential, and doing your best to love them.
Overall, these steps to networking so that you can get out of abuse put some real power in your corner. Don’t forget, there’s a lot more to networking success, especially if you want to build more connections to last through the exit process and into the healing journey. Don’t let this article be the end of your journey, but rather the beginning of your quest for more knowledge