With so much talk and discussion about Domestic Violence today, the one question that keeps popping up in conversation is, “Why do you stay?” As a victim of both Domestic Violence and Child Abuse, I can answer that question. Obviously, I can only speak for myself and experience. After experiencing several traumas involving abuse and violations of my body and my mind, I think I can honestly say these factors play into someone’s reason for staying.
Love and Emotion, Fear of more abuse and being alone, Financial support, Children, Religious Beliefs, but probably the biggest which may involved several tied into one, Self Esteem and Self Confidence.
For years I was plagued by abuse, first as a child, then off into relationships that brought on the same. It is almost like we are marked, and because we tolerated the abuse as children, we almost come to a conclusion, it is part of life.
As a child we feel totally helpless and feel we have no defense. As adults, we tend to feel the same only to subject ourselves to even more because we have already been beaten down so much as a child. It was not until I realized, I was worth more, deserved more, and felt my children deserved better, I made my break.
Going to a therapist helped, someone to help me realize, co-dependency was eventually going to kill me.
My biggest problem was feeling I could control, change and improve our world, people and all that implies. I felt if I worked hard enough, nurtured enough, made enough excuses, set better examples, and tolerated the pain I could make a positive improvement on my life and the lives of others. NOT!!!!
First lesson learned, “you can not change anyone” and you can not save the world. Change comes from within. So I had to change. I had to develop my self into a person who loved and valued herself more, and refused to be mistreated or abused. I had to understand and acknowledge, what was happening was not right, was not deserved and do something myself to change it.
When I was a child, back in the 50’s-70’s, there was no public outreach to help victims, people had a tendency to ignore or refuse to help. They did not want to get involved. I can remember as a small child running to the neighbors to get help and no one would answer the door. I know they were in there, but did not want to “get involved” no matter what the situation was.
Scared and alone, is all I felt emotionally and the pain from my injuries went numb after a while. I had gotten beaten so much, punched, slammed and bruised that I could not even feel the pain any longer. My hair was pulled out, lips were swollen and cut, eyes swollen shut, jaws were sore and bruise, big knots on my body, head, legs and arms all the time. I would be so bruised and beaten, I was embarrassed to go to school. And when I did, no one took notice to my pain inside or out. No one reported my Mom for what she was doing. The police were called out to my house on a regular basis, they even knew my parents by their first names, and we lived in a pretty large city in Texas.
Even the police never made any attempt to help me. If they hauled my parents off, Mom and Step-Father, they would just tell me to lock the doors and call a relative. Yes, I knew every day, when the liquor was pouring, the fights would begin, almost every day. Weekends were the worst, because my Step-father was home from work all day and night. I also knew if they fought, beat the tar out of each other, and my step father left the house, I was in for it. I was the one my mother would come after and blame for their problems.
Okay, so that was my childhood, went on for years until I moved out at fifteen. Went to live with my Father and Step-Mom.
Was I a mess, got Pregnant with my first Child at 17, had to finish school after the birth, and my child’s father was a drinker, did drugs and guess what, an abuser..Wow, who knew…I even went to his parents for help, with bruises all over including my neck, nice big finger prints, to get help, guess what??? His mother was in total denial. Even with the evidence in her face, would not believe her baby son, could do such a thing, and I must have either did it myself or gave him cause. Yup, no help there. I had no where to go. My parents basically disowned me when I got pregnant, and here I was in a place where I had no family, and very few friends.
Then working, I met my husband and father of my second child. A man serving in the USAF, go figure, My Dad was an Officer in the USAF, so I figured he had to be okay. Wrong again, after a couple years, when my youngest was around two, I came home from work to find him in bed with another girl, under age, smoking weed. Before that he liked knocking me around too, especially if he was drinking. That was the final straw that broke the camel’s back. It just so happened she was the daughter of a very close friend of mine, and co-worker. I had agreed to open up my home to her, to stay temporarily until she could get her head together and to help her parents. Neither big mistake.
When she was caught with my husband she tried to cry that he forced her, got her high then took advantage of her..he on the other hand had a different story. Did not matter what the story was, I felt like I had been stabbed and beaten all over again.
Being the naïve person that I was, I allowed him to convince me not to press charges, or go to his commander. He promised if I divorced him quietly, he would always provide for our Son, and pay his way through College. Bingo, another lie.. He paid me a whole 100.00 in Child support a month, and never came through on any of his promises, so once again, I felt betrayed and beaten.
Okay, I know what you are thinking, surely I had learned my lesson by now. Nope, moved on to another Alcoholic, womanizer, drug addict, and liar. When I first Met my next husband, he was charming, good looking, and had a great job. Seemed to show true promise.
To make a long story short, NOT. He could be cruel in his treatment, and had an issue with using physical contact to get his point across. The biggest mistake he made was going after my child one night. He and I were fighting, he had me down on the floor and was banging my head on the floor, when my little boy, only 4 at the time came running in to try and save me. He back handed him, and that was “all she wrote”. I got up off the floor, went to my nightstand, grabbed my .22 hand gun and pointed it at him and told him if he ever touched my child again, I would kill him. (The Gun was a gift from a deputy sheriff I knew) given to me after I had been kidnapped and raped in a prior year. So yes, I have had my share of Abuse. After that, I started thinking, it must be me, I am the problem.
That is when I went and sought help. I started volunteer work prior to most of this and would advise and counsel others at a Rape Crisis Center and A Domestic Abuse Shelter, but here I was, needing that same advice.
After starting my sessions, I started to grow in spirit and in emotion. My career goals were coming true, I was getting my college education, and was beginning to blossom into a real independent woman. I figured out and learned that I was a Co-Dependent. One who thinks they can save everyone and change everyone. Once I finally realized I could not, my life began to improve.
To wrap things up, there is no clear definitive answer as to the whys nor will there ever be. The answers lie in each of us who chose to live in a volatile relationship or not. There is so much more to my story, and is played out in my e-book. Big Tears Little Hearts.
The best advice I can give is for others not to judge those of us who make bad decisions, and to keep the doors open for helping and healing. That is what most of us truly need.