The final story I want to share with you does not involve a parent and a child. It is the story of a young girl who fell in love with the wrong man. One of the number one questions people want the answer to regarding abuse is 'Why would any one stay!?' I hope this story gives you a better understanding of why.
I was raised in an abusive home so I knew what abuse was first hand. I always told myself I would never let anyone treat me that way or stay in a relationship that was abusive. I consider myself a pretty headstrong person when I want to be and that was one thing I would not budge on.
I was living in Montana when I met him. He was the most attractive man I had ever seen, with sky blue eyes that took my breath away and a smile that made me weak in the knees.
I was doing pretty well for myself at the time, I had my dream job, a nice place, and a beautiful dog. He and I were in the same group of friends. We hung out and over time I fell in love with him and he was in love with me. I had never felt so good. We were two peas in a pod--just perfect for each other.
Then something changed. I'm not really sure what it was. I used to stay awake nights wondering what I had done wrong, but it wasn't me.
He started getting really paranoid about my relationships with my co-workers and friends. He was absolutely convinced I was cheating on him with any male who acknowledged me. I started to hate seeing my guy friends in public because I knew if I said "Hi," it would start a fight. So I began to ignore them.
Even then I didn't see what was happening.
After the paranoia came the bursts of anger. One minute we would be laughing and joking and then out of nowhere he would get so mad that the hate burned behind his eyes. I would ask him why he was mad and he would just say "You know why."
When I tried to figure it out he would only become more angry.
When he got like that life became unbearable. For days I would do anything and everything to make him happy with me again, or at least get him to explain to me what I had done wrong. I was so convinced that I was in the wrong that I acted like a guilty person, even though I didn't know my crimes
I stopped going out with friends, I stopped talking on the phone when he was around. Before I knew it, I was alienated from my friends or family. My only escape from him was work--except he took me there everyday and picked me up afterward.
Work was a relief. It was eight hours free of him, eight hours that were mine... or so I thought. My boss needed a carpenter to do some work around the shop and guess who just so happened to be a carpenter? So now he had made his way into my work.
I was never free of him. He was always watching my every move, waiting for me to do something to prove my guilt. Instead of leaving though, I got more dependent on him.
The first time he hit me we were both shocked. He begged for forgiveness for days. He bought me flowers, took me out to eat. I forgave him. After all, it was only a punch on the butt (I couldn't sit comfortably for a week). Things got better for a while. He didn't get mad anymore and we went out a couple of times. It went back real quick though, and this time he was meaner. Our fights starting getting more physical, the words more degrading.
My breaking point was when we had gotten into a particularly bad fight one night, when his sister and brother were in town visiting. He had gotten mad at me. We wrestled around a bit and I got hit in the face. His sister came down to see what we were fighting about. I tried to explain that I didn't even know why he was mad and if only he could just tell me why he was mad I would fix it. He started screaming at me, calling me terrible things that no person, let alone a woman, should be called. I dropped to the ground begging for him or his sister to just listen to me, and she started screaming at me, too. I was so lost and broken, sobbing on the floor, being screamed at and degraded at somebody's feet, I looked over and saw his dog happily lying on the bed without a care in the world, and I knew that this man was never going to treat me better than his dog.
Three days later he had to leave town for a job. The day he left, I rented a car, got what I could fit in it, got my dog and left. I called my job and told them I had an emergency and had to leave. I didn't want him knowing anything until I was long gone.
Even when I left, I thought I was coming back, I figured we just needed a break from each other and everything would be okay after a month or so. I went to my mom's to stay for a while, I didn't tell her why I had left Montana. I just said I had some problems there, but I was going to go back soon.
It took me a long time to accept the idea that our relationship had been abusive, I didn't want to believe it. I loved him so much and just wanted to believe, so deep inside of me, that it was something I had done, and that he wasn't abusive, I was just a difficult woman.
---It hurt me to know that I was that dumb, I should have known better. It happened so quickly that I didn't even realize what was going on. I look back now and sometimes it feels like it was just a nightmare or something, but my heart knows better. On the days I am feeling less sure of myself I hear his voice in the back of my head telling me everything I do wrong, I just have to remind myself that I made it out and I don't have to listen to him anymore.-EM
Did you know:
A child's exposure to the father abusing the mother is the strongest risk factor for transmitting violent behavior from one generation to the next. (American Psychological Association, Report of the American Psychological Association Presidential Task Force on Violence and the Family, 1996.)
Family violence costs the nation from $5 to $10 billion annually in medical expenses, police and court costs, shelters and foster care, sick leave, absenteeism, and non-productivity - Medical News, American Medical Association, January, 1992
If you know someone who is abused, or are a victim of abuse of yourself you can find the help you need by calling: