Why Women Stay in Abusive Relationships
A few weeks ago someone posted a comment on social media that really struck a nerve with me. I know, let's all put on our sarcastic surprised faces. Someone did something on social media that we didn't like. But this time it hit home for me.
Someone posted something along the lines of "I don't know how a woman could be in an abusive relationship, I would never stay in one." And this wasn't the first time someone has said that on social, or in public. It really made me think "people really have no idea idea what these women endure." So I wanted to shed some light on this subject by sharing my story.
I was a very strong willed, independent woman before I met him. The thought of letting someone else, let alone a boyfriend, tell me what I could and couldn't do was outrageous. But it happened. It didn't just happen in one day either, it happened every day, multiple times a day, for three years. Imagine that for a minute. The person you trust, the person you love, abusing you every day for three years. I bet you can't. It's unimaginable really, but it happens.
It started out with small things, things I wouldn't have thought twice about. He'd tell me not to hangout with certain people, or go certain places because he was worried about me. I thought it was sweet and harmless. And I listened. Overtime these demands escalated. I had to snapchat him my surroundings, I had to call him to check in, I had to explain my choices, opinions and actions. There was one instance where I had decided to spend the afternoon with my family watching movies and eating junk food and he called every 20 minutes to make sure I was still where I said I was. It frustrated me and embarrassed me.
I bet you're thinking, "well if you were mad about it, why did you tolerate it?". Because any push back was met with horrendous screaming. In your face, noses touching, screaming. I was called every name in the book, I was put down in every possible way, among other terrible things I have only shared with select people in my life. Each of these things wore my strong spirit down little by little, until I hated myself. Until I felt weak. Until I couldn't live without him and his "guidance".
Women tend to stay in these relationships for a multitude of reasons. 1. They feel that they can change the person. I thought I could. I remember how amazing the first several months were. How loving and caring and smart I thought he was. I thought that since he had originally shown me that side of him, I could get him to go back to that. I was wrong. 2. They fear for their safety. I did towards the end. I wasn't even dating him and he was terrorizing me in unimaginable ways. 3. They feel they can't live without them. 100% accurate. I literally felt like I was incapable of making any decisions on my own. I became so used to asking permission to do things, to buy things, anything. 4. You love them more than you love yourself. Again, I did. I became so dependent on him for everything. I will never forget the moment I knew I need to get out. I was sitting in his home and his mom said "I know he doesn't always treat you well, but he really does love you." And the thought that his mother knew how awful he was, and thought it was acceptable showed me that no matter what I did, things were not going to get better.
I look back at my past self and she's unrecognizable to me. I'm not the free spirited, fire cracker I once was. I'm broken, attempting to glue back the pieces he shattered and stole. Jon and I have had many long talks about my past as it causes significant anxiety for me. And he said something that really made me think. "All he took was your time. You are still whole. You are still here. You've been through hell and now you're going back in to pull other women out of their situations. Don't you wish someone had been there to pull you out? Now you get to be that someone for other women and that is the definition of courage." And he's right. I'm not the girl I used to be, but I'm not weak. I'm not broken. I'm a fighter. I'm a survivor. And I've made it my goal to educate people on domestic violence: physical, emotional and mental abuse, as well as to empower women to get out of these situations.