How?….a Million Dollar Question. I ask myself that so often, I can’t count the times. I wonder daily How I “allowed” myself to be abused.
Here is Websters definition of How…
I was always an independent person. My Mom told me once, “You are too independent for your own good.” Maybe she was right…I know Gandhi said this…
But I never felt I wanted to be independent OF everybody else, as I know well, we cannot get through life alone. Human beings were not meant to be completely alone in life. I just wanted to be able to do things on my own, i.e., take care of myself financially, explore the world, not have to depend on others for my happiness, etc..
But did that independence perpetuate my downfall? Did that need for freedom of self, make me vulnerable to being abused? I don’t know. What I do know, is that I miss the person I used to be. I miss doing things, without having to have an entorage…Bodyguards as it were, to go with me when I visit life outside of these 4 walls. I miss that independence.
How did it come to this? How did my abuser get the upper hand, on my independent ways? How did he break me?
Well, as I have been writing about the abuse for my book…I did something quite unlike me (my writing style). I started an outline…yes, those of you who are writers know you need an outline to write…need a way to plan your beginning, middle and end. But I have always done better just starting with whatever thought comes to mind, and going from there (my independence clearly showing). I know that my brother told me once, as I was in a writing class at the time, and trying hard to write the way they wanted me to…that my stories were not the same. He said he liked the stories better, when I wrote my way…so…I re-wrote the story he had just finished, and gave it back to him. He said, that it was much better.
But I stray….so getting back to How… Through writing my outline, I even do that a bit different. I write about some of the things in a little more depth than others. It is one of those entries, that brought me to the question again. The How, question.
Yesterday, as I was writing… I may have hit on at least a few reasons the “How” took place. What I am about to tell you, is not for the faint of heart, and I will be breaking from what I want to keep quiet from some Family and Friends by saying some of it. So I will not go into great detail, to spare them, should they read this.
It was a time, just after we had gone through counseling for 6 months, and that came about, because he (my abuser) had hit me repeatedly, with my not yet 1-year-old child in my arms. I got a temporary restraining order, and went home to family, because I needed them. I ended up coming back, with my mind made up that I would seek a permanent restraining order. Well, that did not happen…instead, we agreed on counseling, and he would also do anger management classes (my thoughts on that I reserve for another post).
It went very well. It was, as I remember, the best 6 months of our married life. I was excited that I had made the decision to stay and work it out.
The money ended, that insurance would cover for our sessions and we had agreed, with our counselor, that we were doing well enough to go it alone. Besides, we did not have enough money to cover the fees…even though the Doctor had offered us 1/2 off…unheard of, I know!
That evening, as we left hand in hand…something we were doing again, like we did in the beginning… I felt energized, so happy to start the next part of our lives together. I had dreams of what we could be, and the family we would become (at this point I knew I was pregnant for the 2nd time). We had made great progress.
He put me in the car. Opened the door for me (such a gentleman), and went around to his side. After he got in and closed the door, he leaned in and gave me a kiss…not a short peck, but a long lingering kiss, that made me want more. But as he pulled back, I did not see love in his eyes, I saw contempt, a full anger that I had not seen in over 6 months. He said to me, “I will NEVER (he emphasized this word) go through that again!” “Do You Understand?” At that moment, frozen as solid as a statue, I did know…God how I knew! Whats more, The weekend alone we had planned to celebrate our end of counseling…I now knew he had planned…not to celebrate our success together, but his success in being able to convince me, his family, and the Doctor we were seeing, that he had changed.
I had a hard reality hit me that weekend…of which I will not go into great detail…just suffice it to know that I was his, he had learned not to cause bruises where people could see them, and still inflict enormous amounts of pain. He had learned how to use his words carefully, and to make them hurt as much, if not worse than the physical pain he inflicted. He also learned how to use our child against me, and the fact that my family was too far away to be of any help.
He made sure that the hotel we went to (one that we loved and went to often with family) was booked for the cabins across the street from the main part of the hotel. I now know, it was not for us to have privacy to celebrate, but for Him to have more privacy to do what he intended to do.
He set the rules that weekend, and he broke something in me…Something my independent self could not get back.
So, if I have any advice to those of you in the beginning stages of abuse… it would be this…Arm yourself with knowledge…Even those of you who think… “That would never happen to me.” Believe me, I used to think that.
Know the warning signs…I did not know them, I did not know they existed. I was very naive ( I think that is what abusers look for), and trusting. If I had even a modicum of knowledge about abuse…if it had been a subject that could have been discussed around a dinner table, if for no other reason, than to inform us. I think I would have given more thought to the warning signs.
Don’t get me wrong, you need to be able to trust in life, but that does not mean you need to go blindly along. I learned the hard way, that you can be a strong, independent person, and still be broken. It takes someone who really knows what they are doing. And my abuser truly knew what he was doing, and he was patient enough to get it…kind of a contradiction in terms, he could be patient enough to get whatever he wanted…but make his sandwich wrong, and he could go from zero to Monster in under a second.
I am putting some information here from the Domestic Violence Website…If you are in this same situation, or if you know of, or suspect someone is in this situation. This is a good place to start, for information. I wish I had it before I got into the relationship I was in…I may have seen the signs, I thought at the time were nothing.
Please….I learned the hard way…DO NOT USE YOUR HOME COMPUTER, PHONE, ANY PERSONAL ELECTRONIC DEVICE, to look up information on how to get out…They can and will find it and use it against you. My suggestion if you are abused…go to the library, and use their computers…if you know someone who is abused, do not let them use your electronic devices either, direct them to a library or cyber cafe, where they need to use an anonymous name. And make sure you are safe whenever you go there…make sure, even if it takes more time…that you are not followed.
Here is the screenshot I used to give the information to you…
the next one shows some of the signs…now do not let it deter you, if you are a Man, Teen, of Child…as in most of their information, they use Men as the Abusers…We all know that it is not just men that abuse…women, children, teen, anyone can be an abuser, and anyone can be the victim…This is just a starting place…they can direct you in the right direction…
I know you are afraid. I know how hard it is to believe. I know you don’t see an end to your pain and suffering. I know you see no way out. But there is a way out, there is a way to safety. It is not an easy road. It will be the hardest, scariest thing you will ever do. But you have made it this far…that shows how strong you are. I did not believe I was strong, I still have trouble seeing it. Life can be better. I don’t think it will ever go completely away, but I do know that it gets easier, day by day, with each and every step. And this I know for sure…
YOU DO NOT HAVE TO DO IT ALONE…. You can’t do it alone…this is not a time to be independent…it is a time to reach out, and be heard…I am here to hear you, as others have been there to hear me.
Most of all Be Safe in your situation!
Thanks for Hearing!