I got my bachelor’s degree. I studied abuse in all its forms. I saw the results of abuse in the families, children and single adults I worked with during the first 10 years of my adult life. I read studies, I judged those women. And then . . .
One week after I eloped with my husband whom I had known for over five years, HE HIT ME. I told no one. Over the next year there were 6, SIX times where he was physically abusive. No, he didn’t give me a black eye or break my ribs, but he did leave bruises and I made excuses . . . I fell and bumped my head/shoulder/leg. No one had a clue. And I lived in fear every single day.
So you ask . . . why? What did you do? Did you cheat on him, lie to him, do something horrible . . . no, not a single thing. I was a virgin when we married. I loved my husband with no regrets. He was my one and only. He was my world. And even now, 8 and a half years after our wedding date, I can still say that I love him. And now, I know why “they” stay. I did for 5 years – police were called, I was hospitalized, my children were witnesses and I took him back over and over again.
To this day, I cannot explain why, the multitude of reasons why I continued to stay and to take him back. Why I hid from everyone who would have helped me. But I can tell you this, unless I left, there was no other way to break the cycle. He could not be fixed, believe me I tried. And I even have to say, he tried. He really did.
If you know someone or suspect someone who is being physically, verbally or mentally abused, speak to them, believe them, support them, but know . . . only they can make the choice to make the change.
From my own personal experience, here are my observations, maybe, just maybe and hopefully they can help you or someone you know:
- Finances play a HUGE part in why abused women can’t/don’t leave. Let’s face it, men are still the breadwinners in most two adult families and the idea of losing that security can be daunting.
- Pride goeth before the fall, right. Well, standing on the ledge, all alone, makes that fall seem huge and telling someone what is really going on is really hard.
- Let’s face it, the current criminal justice systems fails, not only the victims of domestic abuse (where my personal experience lay) but also the abusers. Timely trials, my ass! Victim advocates, yeah right!
- Support systems are hard to come by. I was too embarrassed to go to my family at first. And the support organizations, ha, what a joke. The first one, told me I didn’t live in their area, the second one said I wasn’t needy enough. I didn’t even have anyone to go to court with me and there I was toting my newborn with me, I had NO CLUE what going to court meant. I had to hand my newborn over to the court staff while it was in session. I was mortified.
- Who wants to be alone, especially when they are kids involved. Even to this day, it is really hard to be alone. There is no one to snuggle at night. No one to help around the house. No one to open that can of pickles. I know that may seem shallow but it’s so true.
I am not an expert. I only lived through my experience. But now, 3 years after finally leaving, I have some perspective.
As I have continued to meet with and bond with my recently found group of girlfriends, I find that by not keeping these secrets, I find companionship, support, and relatability. I am not alone in my experiences. While they are unique, yes, aren’t we all, I am not alone. You aren’t either.”