People often ask me, Why did you stay? My answer, I don’t know. But deep inside my soul I do know. I’m just not always prepared to say those words out loud. In a society where you read in the newspapers that abuse victims are told to go back home and sort out their own problems, or that if his wife beats him he is a coward, it is often difficult to imagine leaving that circle of abuse. In my life I have experienced abuse in many ways and it seems the circle always returns to the same starting point. I can finally say that I have broken that circle and I am free. Unfortunately it took me many years to understand abuse which finally enabled me to brake free from those chains.
Inside the mind of the abused
The first time I could not believe what was happening. I was so scared that my mind went completely blank. How could this man that said he loved me treat me like this. Here I need to emphasize that he never hit me. This was a cycle of emotional abuse. He had accused me of having an affair at the office.
We had been married for a couple of months and he had been retrenched at work leaving way to much free time on his hands for his imagination to go off running wild. He could not understand why I would get all dressed up for work and when I got home would not dress up for him. See dressing up for work does NOT mean we are actually comfortable, so when we get home guys this is when we dress down for comfort. Sad that we do not always then dress up for our guys but the unfortunate truth. In this warped image he saw me trying to find another man, a better man, one who was employed and could take care of me. It did not take long for his opinion to change the way I dressed.
In my mind I was merely pleasing my husband and living according to his wishes. With each passing day I was dressing more and more like a nun and in the process losing more and more of who I am to please him. Now please do not get the wrong impression. I do not usually go to work half naked! Shirts had to be buttoned right to the top, long dresses with the necessary undergarments had to be worn so no leg shows in any way or manner! It became impossible to find clothing that would fit this description in today’s day and age, accept maybe for wearing one of those ninja dresses. (No offense meant)
He intimidated me so much that it got to a point where I refused to drive myself to work, my reasoning being that if he drove me, he could surely not suspect me of running around with other men. Little did I know that by giving up this right I was giving up my complete freedom. It did not take long for him to completely control my life and nearly cost me the only income we had at that stage and if I had stayed it could possibly have cost me my life.
When you finally snap
See most of us, especially woman are born with the instinct to protect our young and ourselves, but modern day society has taught us as woman we are emotional and should rather tame those emotions so we can also work and deal with this "mans world" without all the drama and tears. So we push those primal instincts right to the pit of our tummies and sometimes forget we have them.
He was always the picture of perfection around my family and my children and never did anyone suspect that all this was happening behind the scenes. He could be such a charmer and be so kind when it was called for. Only my friends at work, who could see me deteriorating on a daily basis, knew more or less what was going on.
On the day I snapped my primal instinct to protect myself and my children kicked in big time. He arrived at my office as usual unexpectedly and confronted me about the affair he thought I was having with a client that was there. Whether I truly snapped or a switch finally went on and set off alarms screaming through my head I will never know, but for the first time I finally saw him. Clear as day! The monster lurking behind the shadows, waiting for that moment to pounce and tear at me so I would stay weak.
I saw how scared I was when he locked me inside my house, took my phone and keys and demanded I call in sick until he heard “the truth”. I saw a lifetime of being punished for a crime I did not commit. Finally I saw him turning on my kids. Through all this time I thought that none of what was happening had an effect on my children, but I was wrong. By changing me, he had been changing them, and his “rule” through me had been demanded from them.
I remember looking at him and in a calm voice telling him to F off. I am not one to usually swear but once again I had been backed into a corner and he was tearing me limb from limb. I told him that if he could not treat me with respect, especially in front of others that he was not welcome at my office. Off course he was furious, which made the possibility of me going home and dealing with his wrath impossible. I might have looked calm on the outside but inside there was chaos. My primal instinct to protect myself had kicked in and I was NOT going to be where he could once again lock me inside my home and tear away at me. I called my parents and with the love and support from my family and friends at work started the long slow path to recovery.
So, why did I stay? The shame of having to admit that I allowed someone to abuse me. Surely I am of average intelligence. Surely I should have moved on at the first sign. It seems these days it is easier to get a divorce than it is to get married. After a previous failed marriage and all, would I really have a chance at happiness if I had another divorce to show. I would have to move back to my parents house….I would once again be alone.
Why did I stay you ask. My answer, all I ever wanted was to be loved and was hoping above hope that this would be that fairytale. To all the woman out there thinking that there is no way out, I have proven it time and time again. There is always a way out. The scars may take a long time to heal, but eventually they do heal.