There is nothing worse for a survivor to hear than that dreaded question of ‘Why didn’t you just leave’? If it was that simple don’t you think we would have!
Living with your abuser is not a choice despite what some may say, we remain as we at that time have no way out.
Yes, the environment is toxic and damaging we live with the screaming and the shouting, the name calling and finding ourselves in a constant state of fight or flight.
The mind games used on us are relentless, the accusations of cheating, being told we’re too sensitive, or we’re insecure, which is, in reality, is all smoke and mirrors as they are reflecting onto us what they are doing and thinking.
Then there’s the physical abuse, who knew we would become expert make-up artists for covering up the bruises we had when we weren’t quick enough to get out of the way when they hit out.
The emotional and mental abuse used to control us, in my opinion, is worse but everyone has their own opinion on that and rightly so.
So, yes, we are in one hell of a fucked-up relationship and we know we are so we don’t need to hear the judgement of others on top.
It’s not that easy, there are many reasons an abused person stays.
They may stay because no matter what is done to them, they still love their partner and they stay thinking they can change them for the better.
They may stay as they believe they have done something to deserve this treatment they haven’t, no one has but it is how they feel.
They may have children and they have this deep desire to keep their family together and whether that is right or wrong that is how they feel things should be.
They may be financially dependent on their abusive partner so to leave would leave them and their children homeless and with no money for basics such as food and rent.
They may feel ashamed that they are in this situation and that they have no one to turn to for help, the thought of friends and family finding out what is really going on makes them think that they will have the view that they should have left and they are stupid and weak for not doing so.
They start covering up the truth of what life is really like for them and they become accomplished liars which then feeds into the shame they feel.
They know if they do leave the barrage of questions and judgment will be too much to take, they will not want the additional trauma that comes with telling the truth.
They think that they won’t be believed anyway, as their abuser has brainwashed them that no one believes anything they say.
I know all these feelings well, as I’ve been there.
This person, your abuser, they are viewed by others as charming, caring and loving, this is because they are always on their best behavior around others, they portray this perfect life, where behind closed doors it is a very different story.
When I see others portraying a perfect life after the one, I had I always think what a load of Bullshit, something isn’t right there, hindsight is a wonderful thing isn’t it.
Sometimes we stay because we believe our abuser will grow tired of acting this way with us and that things will return to ‘normal’, we put it down to pressure at work. Sadly, they will not change as what they are now is the real them and the past was one big scene played out to pull us into their world.
Often, we stay as we have been told by our abuser that no one else would want us anyway and he/she is allowing us to be with them as they are the best we can hope for.
It’s not true!
You are worth so much more than this life.
You are worthy of love, real love, to have empathy, comfort and understanding.
You’re not going to find that staying with your abuser.
No amount of changing yourself to please them will stop the cycle of abuse.
Trust me nothing you do will change them!
Then suddenly one day you find that you have this sense of anger building up inside you, and that is a good thing! It’s your broken spirit which has thus far been telling you it is broken, tattered and torn fighting back.
You find yourself researching where you can find help, where you can go for safety, you start your escape plan, if possible, you start hiding small amounts of the grocery shopping money you get given.
You start having a clear out at home telling your abuser that you are getting rid of unwanted items, the reality is you are moving them to a friend’s home, a friend who you know you can trust is key. You accept that you will be leaving a lot of treasures behind, but it is better to be free and fight that out if you want to via the courts.
All of this takes time and during this time the abuse continues, but you don’t show your abuser that you see them for what they really are as to do so would put you and your children if you have any at risk.
The pressure and stress you are under are immense, but you know this shall pass.
The day you leave is bittersweet and traumatic, you know this isn’t the end, but the next part of a journey that could take years to end.
Never be ashamed of what happened to you, it was not your fault.
You may only be able to see as far as that day, and all the effort it entails to get through that day, but it will be worth it in the end, because you are worth so much more than a life of abuse.
It will take time to recover, but when you are ready, your rebirth will be a glorious sight to see, and those that love you will be cheering you on.