When Love Hurts

The first time he was violent is forever etched in my memory.  He was angry because I confronted him about a relationship he was having with another woman, and we argued.  The argument ended with me being held down with a pillow over my face…suffocating.  I thought that I was going to die that day.  I was afraid, terrified even, but I didn’t leave.  I didn’t leave because I didn’t I have anywhere to go or maybe it was more like I didn’t have anywhere that I wanted to go.   My children deserved to have both of their parents in their lives.  As a little girl who grew up with no father, and a mother who was rarely present, I was determined to do everything differently. My children would have the life I didn’t have, they would have the family I didn’t have.

Over the years, I would suffer more abuse, but that didn’t stop me from marrying him.  That’s right, I married my abuser.  I married him despite the fact that he was abusive.  I married him because I believed that it would get better.  I also stayed because I had no other options.  I had no idea how to survive on my own.  I was still a teenager when I left home and moved in with him.  A life without him and my kids was all I wanted.  He was a good dad to his children.  He was a good provider, he kept a job and sometimes worked two jobs to support us.   We even went on outings on the weekend.  We were a family just as I had always vowed.   

I grew up without ever seeing what a loving relationship looks like.  I had absolutely no idea what to expect when I got into my own relationship.  I believed my ex-husband when he told me he loved me…even though he hurt me.   I loved him, I believed in him, and I wanted to be with him for the rest of my life. Until it became very clear to me that if I stayed I may not have a life.  Until I realized that I was not meant to live the way I was living, and I deserved more.   I reflect on those days when I thought I wouldn’t live to see my children grow up, the days when I stayed home so that no one would see the black eyes, the days I felt humiliated, and alone.  I think about them and thank God for his unfailing love.  HE saved me, HE got me through.  I wish that no one else would ever feel the way that I felt all those years ago, but women do every single day, and some lose their lives.  Some women are ashamed and won’t talk about it, others think that the abusive behavior is “normal” and that they have to subject themselves to being battered and abused. I probably wouldn’t talk about it either, except that my story could help other women.

When I hear comments like, “Why doesn't she leave?'"  “She's stupid."  "I would never let anyone..." I cringe.  It’s easy to say what we would or what we wouldn't allow when we've never actually experienced a situation ourselves.   It's easy to judge someone when you're on the outside looking in.  Domestic Violence is about power and control, women in these situations feel powerless and trapped.  A partner’s abuse may take the form of emotional, physical, and/or sexual abuse.  Many behaviors are learned, meaning that most abusers come from families that experienced similar situations.  Children who witness this behavior may grow up to believe that this an acceptable way to resolve conflict.  It’s imperative that we not look the other way when we witness or know of abusive situations.  Intervention and education about domestic violence could save a life, not only that, it could save a family.