Domestic violence has many faces. It includes physical abuse, emotional abuse, controlling behavior, fear mongering. It can be a husband, father, mother, daughter, or any other family member. The face of domestic violence is every face. Every person you see in the world could potentially be a victim of domestic violence. I have learned a great deal about this issue over the last several years, but the most in the last couple months.
I have endured domestic violence over the last 7.5 years. As have my children, and even my family pets. I spent too many years with a man who abused me mentally, physically, emotionally, and left me feeling like a caged bird. The worst part, I have been blaming myself the last 7.5 years, for choosing this person and not seeing how damaged, and damaging, he is inside. I became numb to his abuse, because I viewed it as a temporary issue. I believed he would change, because after the rage he would profess to want to change. I believed if I could keep the waters calm, the rage would fade away. I was wrong. The stormy sea is inside him, and no matter what I do, it will be there until he is ready to do what it takes to calm the tumultuous waters himself.
I believed I could love him better. If I could show him unconditional love and support, he would heal. In the process, I ceased to provide my own self with the unconditional love and support I was giving to him. I focused so much on caring for him, I neglected myself. I abused myself, and thus, he abused me too. I valued myself so little, that I accepted this behavior, because I valued him enough to endure his abuse in an effort to help him get better. Why would I do such a thing? Simple, it is my comfort zone. Now, I know what you’re thinking, here is where she blames her parents for everything. No no, no assigning blame. BUT, I will assign responsibility where it belongs.
I have been diagnosed with complex PTSD. While it has existed most of my life, the brunt of it came from my abusive marriage. My therapist stopped me when I boarded the blame train, and started heading towards myself with it, full boar. He said I chose what felt familiar, whether it was good for me or not. He said, after a lifetime of traumatic experiences, it is what my mind knows, and where it feels most comfortable, and thus, because I have these issues, I would gravitate towards what feels familiar. So now what? Well, lots of therapy, that is what. I have to rewire my brain, my impulses. I have to retrain myself to accept positive, healthy relationships, and not be drawn to unhealthy, neglectful, abusive ones.
So how did I know now was the time? Well, I did not. My credit is awful, my income is unstable, and my life does not feel as though I am in a place to take on the world by myself….with three kids. But, I became more afraid of staying than I was of leaving. He was escalating to a point that I feared for my safety, and my children’s well-being. I became more afraid of the familiar than I was of the unknown. I called the police, and did what I needed to in order to have him removed from the home.
Now, I am doing something I have feared more than anything in my world, asking for help. I am asking anyone and everyone who will help me, to help. Support, safety, stable employment, whatever people offer, I openly accept that which I need. I have let my guard down, and let the positive influences in, because I cannot do this alone. It takes a village to raise a child, and I have three. So I have alerted my village that I need their help. Something that has always terrified me, because of my childhood. But I am finding the more I ask, and receive, the better things are working out. The universe is showing me I am doing the right thing. This road is rocky, uncertain, and damn scary. But scarier is staying in an abusive relationship going nowhere healthy….fast.
My journey is still moving forward, one step at a time.