Let’s talk about domestic abuse. It’s a hot topic right now, but anyone who has ever felt abuse knows that this topic should have relevance every single day.
Domestic abuse is usually thought of as one partner hitting another or doing some type of physical abuse to that “loved” one. However, most people don’t speak about emotional abuse and how a person might suffer.
Let me tell you – it is real.
Most people who suffer abuse don’t speak on it for a variety of reasons. Sometimes a victim is afraid. Sometimes a victim feels shame because they have allowed this to happen to them.
It is never a victim’s fault.
A couple of years ago, I wandered into a domestic violence group meeting. I was scared and tired and thought that all these ladies have it worse than me. What I couldn’t even fathom is that almost all the women in this group were emotionally abused. The emotional abuse I endured left many invisible marks, but the scars are still the same as physical abuse.
There were women who were searching for ways to leave but had no money or place to go. There were women who had their abusers put in jail and were scared because their abusers were about to be free. And there were women who had come out on the other side and were trying to become mentally healthy again. It felt great to be in a safe place where everyone there could understand what I had gone through because they had been through it too.
I used to always wonder why a woman would stay in an abusive relationship and thought I would never do that. The thing is, I didn’t realize I was with an abusive person until it was too late.
He had emotionally wiped me out, locked me out of the house at times, caused my self-esteem to plummet, and basically had me believing I was worthless. He had made me cut ties with family members who he constantly told me didn’t love me; he always talked bad about my friends and didn’t want them near me; when he was mad he would tell me that he wished I would die; and he would always tell me how I remembered things wrong, often making me feel crazy.
Yet I stayed.
Our finances were combined and I had bills that I couldn’t afford to pay on my own. I felt scared at the idea that I was going to be on my own. I had no idea how I could possibly raise two boys alone. It wasn’t until the day he threatened to kill himself, pulled a gun out of the gun safe, and started waving the gun around in front of me and one of my kids that I knew things had to change.
It was difficult for a long time, but I eventually got away from him and I felt great relief when he moved a long distance away. In the beginning, he was texting me and calling constantly, enough that after a police officer called him to tell him to stop, he still drove 8 hours through the night and parked around the block from my house. I don’t think I have ever felt so scared of a person as I did that morning and by the time the police came, he was gone. That morning I applied and received a restraining order to protect myself and my kids.
I hit rock bottom, but I pulled myself up. It took a long time for me to begin to feel like myself again. It wasn’t just me that he traumatized, my kids still feel the lingering effects of his madness. They remember him screaming at me and them, and I know deep inside they hurt. Luckily, counseling has benefitted all of us.
No one realized what was going on inside my home because I was embarrassed. I couldn’t believe I had become this person. I always thought I was strong, but really I had let the abuse go on so long that I was just a shell of the person I once was. Everyone thought I was happy because that is the façade I wanted to project.
I urge you to look at your friends and loved ones. If you think someone you know could be being abused, check in on them. They need to know that they have a strong support system to lean on.