Domestic Abuse… Why Does She (or He) Stay ? (Once More, A Bit Personal…)

*Notice: I have spent a lot of time thinking about how I want to approach these posts regarding domestic abuse, and I think I will be writing a bit differently when posting them. The facts are still very much raw wounds to me, and the wounds are deepened daily. I am not in danger myself anymore, but the person I love is. However, I refuse to leave until she comes with me. So to conclude…I will write a bit different anytime I speak of domestic abuse… It has forever been, in one way or another, an on going issue. Soon, I hope that changes.*

                     Now on to the post!

Two things I hate hearing when speaking of domestic abuse… “If he is so horrible why does she* stay? He seems like a nice guy to me, he wouldn’t hurt a fly!  Or, the even worse, “He may lose his temper or have lost his temper with her, but she hasn’t left him, so he couldn’t be THAT bad of a guy.”

Come to think of it, there are quiet a few things I hate hearing regarding abuse; most of them said by people who have never lived in an abusive household or relationship.

Back to the topic of this post… Why does she stay?

I can’t speak for everyone, only speak from what I know, have seen and from research. So first I want to say… just like with having a loved one fall into addiction, I know it is beyond depressing and frustrating to watch a loved one stay in an abusive relationship. No matter what “kind” of abuse; be it emotional/mental/verbal abuse, financial abuse, sexual abuse or physical abuse…it is almost harder on the loved ones who have to see it happening than to the victim, because there is really nothing much for the “watchers” to do.

After so many years of seeing abuse,
too many of these “loved ones” it seems end up angry or fed up with watching the person waste away, so they keep a distance, leaving the victim, sadly, even more desperate than before. Asking for help is hard enough when the people you love are kind, but when they are cold and distant it makes you question how you would get out and where you would go, even more.

I have had so many people tell me I need to give up on my loved one, but NEVER will I do this, even if I must give up a great deal of my life waiting for her to leave, I will. We all need a helping hand, abuse is terrifying. When you love someone, you suffer along with them… I am hoping the day she leaves comes soon, and in the meantime, I will continue to do everything within my power to help her realize there are ways out.

Anyhow… There is no one answer to the question, “why do they stay”. Abuse damages the heart, spirit and mind. But it is NOT hopeless and giving up isn’t an option, to me. Women may stay with abusers for many reasons and as people age it gets more scary and even harder to leave. Which is another reason it is, I believe, wrong to stay for “the child’s sake** (please see the ** note at the end of this post)- – they obviously think they are doing the best for the child, even though it is not the best. The child will eventually grow up, and most children will go off to college, get a degree, get married and begin their own life while yours wastes away at the hand of an abuser. Or maybe they will turn criminal. Either way, more than likely, at 18 (or sooner, or later) they will leave and now it is just you and the abuser.

I don’t say this to be harsh, I say it because it is true, and because everyone deserves better than the sickness abusers dish out. 

People who have never undergone it or seen it may not understand these reasons; but abuse can be truly paralyzing as well as CONFUSING. Women may stay because of fear for their own life, children’s and even their family’s safety…

Some realize when they are older, and being older it seems to be believed because it was endured so long, it is just how things are… No. You can start a better life at any age. It is horrifying and scary, even more so for older women, I know. BUT you can still have a better life, regardless of age. But it does require leaving, and leaving IS possible.

Finally, some stay because they are afraid on their own they will not be able to survive. Abusers are excellent manipulators and liars; they are amazing at making you feel, think and really believe you are worth nothing. After being told and after having something re-enforced for so long, it is hard to believe what they say to be anything but true. You subconsciously begin to believe the lies as truth. Something HAS to be wrong with you, after all, he doesn’t beat or talk down to his co-workers or friends. Only you. So yes, it has to be you. And you stay.
-Even though the real problem is the abuser, not you. I am just reliving what my personal thoughts were at the time for myself. –

Time to face fears and get a bit personal.

I’ve stated I have been in an abusive relationship, and I have stated I grew up in an abusive environment. I am going to speak from my point of view, and share a bit in hopes it may help someone else know they aren’t alone…

I met my ex when I was only 15. He was very kind at first, obviously, but things changed fast. While to everyone else he was a successful, kind, funny guy; he changed when we were alone. I won’t give any details, and I know it could have been worse. But it still was severe and scary, as well as humiliating and a giant re-enforcement that all I saw as a child and all I felt about myself then (that I was worthless) had to be true. So I thought it was normal and stayed. I thought it was deserved as well; there is no way I would ever be able to have a good man -or so I thought.

I stayed in my abusive relationship for close to 8 years because I truly thought the man I dreamed of, i.e., a loyal, loving, good-hearted and sweet man, must only be another one of my ‘silly fantasies.’ 

Due to many reasons I already was a very self loathing person, so I already felt the abuse was what I deserved – making me think I wasn’t worth anything took him no effort. When we moved in together, the abuse increased FAST and dramatically.

I began to wonder if this was abuse or not, but I couldn’t find the self worth to believe I should even bother trying to leave. But I did leave. And it took a stranger to open my eyes. I’m not sure what it was about him, but he saved me from wasting more of my life with my ex. I wish I could find him and thank him, but I never have seen him again.

This was a very cold and snowy night in NYC and the night was already bad before we left our apartment. Everything I did was wrong, and I remember wondering as I carefully walked down the streets, if I should leave. But I always answered my own question with the same responses:

“I am not worth it, this is what I deserve…and it’s not abuse, I am being “too sensitive again.”

As most abused people, I was used to the neglect, yelling and the fault always being mine that I paid it no mind. It hurt, but it was normal and after awhile you don’t realize it but it is normal, it is not a problem…it’s just how things are.

Anyhow, this night a stranger happened to see him do something I still consider very minor on its own (though if the entire story were told, it was in hind site very bad). But I won’t do details. In short, this night he left me outside for an hour or so in NYC’s  freezing cold snow and wind with my fractured knee, on bench-less sidewalk (I had slipped and my knee was swollen and discolored- it was very obvious I shouldn’t be walking) so he could go up and get some comic books.

I was holding my knee when an older man rushed out to get me. He was not hitting on me, and with no ill intent he still came to get me because he had seen my ex leave, and had been watching as I stood in the cold, rubbing my very swollen knee.

He brought me a chair and sat me down in the building’s lobby. He was furiously pacing and ranting about how my ex was treating me inhumanely, how he was thoughtless and how I did not deserve this. He tried to wait for my ex to come back but was called away before he had the chance. I never saw him again, but he saved my life. It was only because of this stranger that I did leave a couple of weeks later; terrified, of course. It was very hard to do because of fear and many thoughts of self hate. But I finally did it. I wish so badly I could thank that man.

I had long ago grown very weary and full of misery due to the “relationship” – I knew no one deserved abuse but I didn’t consider myself to be abused (though I now see I was). I questioned myself constantly whether I was being abused or not, but I never felt I was because he always had a smart answer as to how it was my fault. I am not sure what this elder man said or did, but for some reason he impacted me deeply enough to where I finally began to consider I was abused… His kindness and honesty gave me the strength to leave years of abuse. It took me a few weeks of thinking on that night, and on how things were, and a lot of reading online…but I did it. A few weeks later, I left while he was at work.

And that is a brief of my personal story and how I left. But it is not that easy for many.

I am not really sure where I am going with this post. I think it is more of an introduction to the abuse posts to come, as well as I want to try and help people understand if they have someone they love who is being abused, or if you are being abused, you are not alone and there are ways out. It is NOT your fault, you are not to blame, and no matter your age, race or situation… There are people who can help you.

It is scary, it may even be the hardest thing you ever do… but when you are safe and begin to heal, you will realize it was the right thing to do. For your self most importantly, and for your children, who hurt right along with you, deeply.

More posts to come, thank you for reading this if you have.

I know people wonder how they will make it on their own, especially with children, especially if there is no one available in your family or amongst friends that can help. But there are very amazing women (and men) as well as places that can and do help those in need. I am in the process of collecting a list of these things, and will post it up soon so if anyone does stumble across this page, maybe I can offer even a bit of help. I hope through all of this I can help someone, somehow.

Below are explanations of two above *’d statements I would love to explain a bit more. If you have read this far, I beg you to read, if nothing else, please include the second ** … 🙂

* I say “she” but I am aware and just as against domestic abuse towards men as I am women. I say she mainly because I relate to these posts very well, and so does my mother, whom I am trying so desperately to help. But that is why I say she, however I am aware and think the world needs to become more aware as well of domestic violence in general but also, male domestic violence is something which needs to be addressed. It is nothing for men or women to be ashamed of; it is the abuser that *should* be ashamed. But anyhow I am going off planned path… That’s a blog for another time.

** Some people stay for the children, they say. Before I go on I have to say this: if you are in an abusive relationship and are staying for your children, you are NOT doing them a favor! If you think they don’t understand or don’t know what is going on, you are very wrong. The best thing that could have happened in my childhood would have been my mother leaving my father. I used to pray for it. The abuse I lived with, saw so much of has left many, many deep scars and wounds. It has left me disabled and with a lack of understanding regarding what love and relationships are… Seeing or hearing your mom (or dad) being abused, seeing sadness in their eyes as they try to hide the pain and fear is not best for your child. LEAVING and loving yourself is best for your child. 

Loving yourself is not wrong, if it is for the sake of the child or just for the sake of YOU. You deserve to love yourself, and you deserve a life without abuse, cheating and lies. I realize this post doesn’t apply to all. It is simply my summary of the issue.

Upcoming posts I want to look into the mental, emotional and physical damage domestic abuse causes both the abused and those who witness. I also plan on discussing battered woman syndrome, laws regarding abuse as well as shocking law(s) that are trying to be passed which would make domestic violence even less of a crime. I also have been working on compiling a list of places which offer help as well as other resourceful links which I will create a separate page to. I know they can be searched for, but my hope is having as many as I can find in one location it may be of some help to someone… I hope.

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