I have read with interest the comments regarding why women stay in an abusive relationship. It has been quite encouraging to see a lot of the comments are made by men – and most of them tell a women to get the hell out.
A “good” abuser – I know there is no such thing that's why it's in quotes – works in a very subtle way. At the beginning he will tell you how beautiful you are and praise you endlessly. This is something all women enjoy and strive to achieve.
He will encourage you to wear clothes that make you look good and attract attention. And he will bask in the attention that you are receiving, from both men and women.
The problem is that he resents the fact that you are beautiful, and he resents the fact that you are attracting the attention. That’s when he will start calling you a slut and taking his frustrations and shortcomings out on you. Then he will say he is sorry and the cycle begins again.
You get a good job, earn a good salary, and suddenly he realizes there is a real prospect that you will leave him, just as you’ve been threatening to do. That’s when the psychological abuse starts. You are useless, you are nothing without me. No-one else will want you.
Domestic violence is like a niggling headache that slowly creeps up on you. You take an Aspirin and hope that it will go away. But it continues. And gets worse. And suddenly you have a giant migraine.
I speak with authority on this because I lived it for 15 years. And yes, my family were incredibly supportive – but the choice to leave had to come from me. And I was the only one who would know when the time was right. The planning took a while – I had to divorce him first so that once I left I knew I would never have to go back.
Once I had made the decision to leave, my family welcomed me with open arms and supported me unconditionally. We all lived in fear however (4 women in a house) wondering if he would put in an appearance bearing arms. We never told my brother the truth for fear of what he would do. I tried to apply to the Court for a restraining order – but as I had never laid charges against him, I could do nothing. These were also the days when the Police did not want to get involved in domestic violence. The only one who ever knew the extent of my injuries was my GP who I visited after every incident – just in case I ever needed to have documented facts one day.
Then one day I telephoned the ex to tell him that the executors of my mother’s estate would probably contact him looking for the money he had borrowed from her. This was not true, but perhaps I just wanted to see his reaction, to see if he had changed now that I was gone. He told me that he was in financial difficulties – he had kicked his girlfriend’s car door in and smashed her fridge, among other things.
And that’s when this huge lightbulb lit up, a real Oprah AHAA moment. The problem had never been me. That truth really did set me free. However, the fact that I had not been the problem did not take away the obvious fact that there had been a problem.
Whilst I in no way condone any form of violence, in a number of domestic violence cases the men have psychological issues which they do not recognize, and even if they do recognize them they are too “manly” to acknowledge. I believe I had been dealing with body dysmorphic disorder and insecurity. That’s why keeping me around by any means was so necessary. It made him think I really loved him because he always looked good and that he was a good man and that’s why I stayed.
I have since met and married a wonderful man, and we have been together for 23 years. I made my stance clear at the start – lift a hand to me and I’m gone. Cheat on me and you’re gone. And this works both ways.
So when you say that a woman who stays around wants whatever she’s getting, sit back and think. In some cases you may well be right, but I am willing to bet that the majority of cases closely reflect what I have outlined above.
And parents, please don’t tell your little boy that “men (or big boys) don’t cry”. That’s a bit of emotional abuse right there.
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