People question why women stay in abusive relationships. I think they are trapped in a prison of love and fear. Escape requires a person not only to permanently end a relationship with a person they love, but to overcome the mental illness that being subjected to extreme anti-social behavior has caused like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Panic Attacks, and severe Depression. The man who took over my life assured me that if I left him he would take my kids away, take my home and everything I own, ruin me financially, ruin my reputation, disrupt the lives of my family members, call the cops on me, run me through the courts until he broke me entirely, and if that did not work, he would kidnap and/or kill me. The law has allowed him to do everything but the first and the last on that list. I would not have found my way out if it was not for the compassion, direction, and support I have received from the local women’s shelter.
Suffering abuse as a child taught me to ignore my feelings and make excuses for bad behavior. Who has not forgiven a person they love for undeserved treatment? Parents do it every day. I was so in love with him, I was willing to overlook offenses just to keep peace. Unfortunately, he is a predator who seeks out people who display compassion and forgiveness to exploit their kindness. He lied to lure me in then used cruel tactics coercion to dominate me. He purposefully forced me to accept more and more abuse as he took over every aspect of my life. I became hopeless and lost my identity and will to survive.
The more he got away with violent behavior, the worse it got. I had to face the reality that someday, it would not just be the wall behind me damaged by objects thrown at my head when he was in a fit of rage over things that didn’t happen. He has consistently demonstrated he is one of the mentally ill that will kill somebody. I do not want it to be me, and I don’t want my children to grow up thinking that behavior is acceptable. He grew up in a home where his father regularly beat his mom with no consequence; I believed his declarations that he wanted to make a better life for his kids. I found out I was wrong about him, but I didn’t know how to get away.
I would have been completely lost if it was not for my advocate who truly listened to me with understanding and compassion while I told my horrible story. She validated my concerns instead of dismissing me, let me blow off steam and didn’t think less of me for it, made sure she gave me some positive feedback every week about the steps I was taking in my life. She was a friend to me when no one else in the world could be, because I had nothing to give in return. After explaining and helping me through all the paper filing and legal processes, my advocate sat shoulder to shoulder with me in the courtroom. When I didn’t think my knees would carry me, she stood for me, and gave me direction and hope when my world was too dark to know where to go or what to do. There are no words to express my gratitude to these women who have shouldered the burden that was too big for me to carry, and are helping me find the strength in myself to make a new life for my children.
I recently started a blog about my experience and the process of healing from abuse. Despite what he told me, people do care about what I have to say. Every day brings more support and appreciation as I share my story and slowly take the steps to find myself again. I am now the author of the dream I wish to live, and I will not allow anyone to lure me into their nightmare again.