Six months ago, I sat on my bed, heart pounding, tears hidden behind fear and a relentless cognitive dissonance. I was lost somewhere between repulsion, guilt, apathy and confusion while my husband stood in the doorway of our bedroom again, his red face twisted somehow with a look of both disgust and pleasure. What are you going to do? It seemed to say. When I tried to reach for my phone, he took it. When I asked if I could leave to use the bathroom, he told me to piss myself. You can leave, go ahead, try…but you have to get by me first. When I ran to the window to yell for help, he wrapped a single arm around my neck, picked me up, and slammed me, face down, onto the bed. As I laid there on my stomach, I wailed.
He kept going on, about what I don’t remember. Over and over in my head, I recited to myself the self-talk I had been practicing for the past few months, since I realized what was happening. You are worth more than this. You do not deserve this. You need to leave; your life depends on it. I knew that shortly after this incident, I would be subject to wifely duties, the fight would be over, and I could sleep. Normalcy would return if I could stick it out until the morning. The scariest part of this midnight violence was that I knew I would forget. I knew I would make excuses for him, and I would justify why he did what he did. I knew this, because it wasn’t the first time.
I received a call from the Court Administrator’s Office the day I wrote this post, just before stepping into a meeting. My divorce was signed. In the last 6 months, I have shattered every negative perception he ever made of me. Every fear I had about my ability to survive without him, I have crushed. I feel empowered and unstoppable, confident and proud.
The most tragic part of an abusive situation like this, is that victims love their abusers. They are dedicated husbands, wives, girlfriends and boyfriends. They are people passionate about wanting to fix everything and make things work because they honestly believe the issue is themselves. Abusers condition victims to continue to feel this way, which is what makes leaving so hard, and abuse so easy. I promised myself that when the divorce was over, I would do everything in my power to keep others from experiencing what I and so many others have. I would help families and friends look for signs of domestic violence and abuse, and most importantly get information to victims in creative ways. Abusers serve as master filters to their victims, because often it is not until victims realize their experience is not unique, that they see the reality of their situation.
This portion of the blog will serve as a repository for articles, interviews, and vignettes centered around awareness, healing, and support. What I found in my research thus far, is that many people leave abusive environments and never look back or share stories. In my fear to leave, I wanted to hear stories of successful women and read about their lives after they made the decision to no longer be a victim. I will share my story openly, as well as use my experiences and the experiences of other contributors to illustrate concepts and raise awareness.
Much, much more to come.
I am not a licensed therapist or psychologist, but I am always available to help. Consider me an automatic friend. Please feel free to contact me (anonymously if you wish) for support and guidance. Having been through this, I have a wealth of resources and scope that I have been sharing with others and want to share with you. Frances Meres firstname.lastname@example.org