It doesn’t start the way most people think it does. You don’t meet a villain in a black hat and cloak who twirls his greasy mustache while chuckling menacingly under his breath and think to yourself, “If only I love him enough, he’ll change.”
No, you meet the man the fairy tales told you would come. He is handsome and strong. He has impeccable morals and values. He holds doors open for you. He wraps his jacket around your shoulders when you are cold. He takes you out to eat Chinese food, even though he hates Chinese food. He surprises you at work by having flowers and chocolate delivered. He is charming and funny and he laughs at your jokes. Your conversations often last through the night, even though you both have to get up early to work the next morning. He holds a good job, is family oriented and he shares your dreams in life. He is protective and kind and he values you as a human being. Your thoughts are important to him. It’s like he was made just for you!
Well, that’s because he was. He studied you and became exactly what he thought you wanted. You fell in love and you thanked God for blessing you as you eagerly looked forward to the life the two of you would build together. Maybe, like me, you thought that you were being cautious. You looked for the red flags but saw none. So you married him. Not long after, his mask fell off but it was too late. You were trapped. Just like Rumplestiltskin, he demanded something precious from you. To keep him from hurting you, you gave and gave and gave some more.
Perhaps, like me, one day you realized that no matter how much you give, he will always only take. As much as you don’t want to believe it, one day he may even take your life.
Perhaps, like me, you will take a brutally honest look at what he has taken from you and you will begin to formulate an escape plan. It isn’t going to be easy. In fact, it’s going to be damn hard. He doesn’t want you to go and you are fully aware of the consequences if he finds out that you are planning to leave. Now is the time for caution. You know better than anyone what he is capable of, even though everyone around you thinks that he is a wonderful man.
I have been married to an abusive man for twenty one years. I still am. I am trapped and I am the only person who can get me out. The abuse didn’t happen quickly. It snuck up on me over a period of years. I didn’t even realize how thoroughly abused I was until the past few years when I began to question my own sanity. I did some research and found that the little voice inside my head that whispers, “There is something wrong with him.” The voice that warns me not to stomp while constantly walking on the eggshells that he has laid out for me, to keep the children quiet, to get the laundry folded before he gets home from work, to hide the three dollars that I earned from going behind his back to sell a pair of jeans that my daughter had outgrown on the online yard sale sites, the voice that for years, has been whispering that I deserve better…the same voice that I have pushed away when it uttered the word ‘abuse’ because it was too painful to hear, was right all along.
I should have listened. There are many reasons that I didn’t. He doesn’t hit. He wants to hit. I see it in his eyes. I see it in his body language when his fists are clenched, his face is red, that ugly vein is standing out in his neck and he’s cussing me through clenched teeth, nose to nose with me, his spit flying in my face, but he doesn’t hit. So I told myself that it’s not abuse if he doesn’t hit. My step-dad hit. He hit all the time. You never knew when you were going to get hit or for what reason but you were definitely going to be hit at some point during the day. Everyday.
To me, that was abuse. I was too young and naïve to know that there were other forms of abuse and that by marrying the man that I thought was perfect for me I was just trading one form of abuse for all of the others. I’m a little older now. A little wiser. I have had twenty one years of hard lessons. I’m going to escape. It is going to take a while. I have all ready tried every bit of advice that the ‘experts’ preach with disastrous results. I have to do this my way now. It is the safest way.
This blog is not going to be an easy read for some people. It’s going to make others angry. Some who read it will begin to understand what it is like to live in an abusive relationship. The question, “Why doesn’t she just leave?” will be answered for some and still others, even with every raw wound laid open for you to examine, will still tell themselves that women who stay are just stupid and deserve what they get because if they stay, they must like being treated that way. You know, blame the victim not the abuser. It’s common to hear that opinion. It is also part of the reason that women don’t reach out for help. We’re humiliated enough at home.
There are plenty of sites that depict the stories of survivors of abuse after they have left their abusers. It is difficult to find women or even men, for that matter, who will throw back the curtain and show you what is happening while it is still happening. The shame is too great and you are risking a great deal if your abuser finds out that you told. It’s worth the risk to me.
I won’t name him. I won’t even name myself. That would be stupid of me. But I will show you what I live through. I’m not doing this for you. I hope that through this someone will find the courage and possibly the help to escape but the selfish truth is, I am doing this for me. There are reasons that I didn’t see it coming. There are reasons that he believed that he could treat me the way that he does and get away with it. There are reasons that I fell for the lies and manipulation, just as there are reasons that I do not want to be his victim. I need to understand me so that I can deal with what is broken and make myself stronger. I want to make damn sure that I never fall for this again.
Healing and feeling whole are going to take time and distance but I have always found that I am able to write myself right into the answers that have been staring me in the face but I just – didn’t – see – them. I’m ready to see them now.