In addition to October being Breast Cancer Awareness month, the incomparable Flahy Blak Chik brought to light the fact that it is also Domestic Violence Awareness month. She has a great testimony on her blog, and I recommend you check it out not only for that, but also helpful statistics and information as it pertains to domestic violence.
Those of you who have been with me through the years (do you recognize it will be almost SIX?!), know of my own experience with domestic violence. Of course, a man that batters a woman has issues on top of issues, but I don’t want to focus on that today. I want to talk about why I stayed, and why I left, in hopes it can help the next person.
My marriage was ill-conceived and ultimately, unhappy. However, we were both raised in religious households where children out of wedlock was a problem that needed to be “fixed,” and divorce was the most unsavory of options. He obviously did not want to be there. I felt trapped. He frankly, was not a stand up guy, so it was no surprise to me when, less than four months into our marriage, he pushed me down for the first time. Subsequently, incidents where he would show disrespect or disregard for me and our family in general became common place. Even when he was not pushing me, or physically restraining me from leaving, he would break things, or exhibit other violent behavior. He would blow up, I would bundle up the kid(s), leave until he cooled off, then I would go back home.
I stayed because I believed that due to my own unhappiness, I somehow provoked his outbursts, or exaggerated their meanings. Simply put, I thought it was my fault. To divorce him, I feared, would be letting my entire family down, so I lived my life around his outbursts. My hair began to fall out in clumps, I gained a tremendous amount of weight, and I was fatigued beyond measure.
My family, unable to remain silent finally spoke up. Though unaware of the whole story, something was obviously wrong. My initial reaction was to gloss over everything. I believed that I could handle it, despite his escalating behavior. Halfway into the conversation, something clicked in me and I was blessed with the strength to tell my father everything. The family that I was so fearful of disappointing did everything they could to support me, and provide a safe place for me.
I am grateful that my support system came from within my family blood lines, but it does not have to be limited to that. If your loved one has become isolated, or exhibits other symptoms of abuse, speak up! Even if the person being abused rejects your help immediately, know that with abuse comes a great deal of shame and embarrassment, so do not take it personally. Make it known that you are there them whenever they are ready.
If you are being abused, mentally or physically, LEAVE. As I will highlight in the second part, it will not get better. You can not “turn” someone into an abuser. It is who they are. The same person that I was married to, remarried and savagely beat his second wife as well. Abuse is not something that you “deserve.” Get out and get HELP. Though Flahy Blak Chik included the contact information in her blog, the numbers for the National Domestic Violence Hotline are as follows:
Always know that you are worthy of help.