Why didn’t/don’t you leave?

This isn’t meant to point fingers. To blame.

I’ve shared some of the reasons I hung on to my marriage and abusive relationship, because it felt like this was a question I came across a lot. Everyone’s response is often to say, “Don’t ask that! It’s inappropriate!”

Yet my mind doesn’t work that way. I don’t want questions to be off limits in my life. They should be an exploration, before which we have no fear. Questions lead to honesty, to communication, and they break down the barriers of isolation. Asking makes us examine things, sometimes painful things.

But maybe – the reasons why you didn’t leave might resonate with someone else. Maybe the reason’s you still haven’t left are because you haven’t figured out if that is the best thing for you yet.

We all have different reasons. Would you share yours with me? There is really no right or wrong answer here, merely a desire to understand better. To help those who ask that question, and are genuinely curious, understand better.

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When Your Partner Threatens Suicide

Damn, this sure hit close to home. Suicide comments and threats became so much the normal I heard them several times a week in some form or another.

Domestic Violence In India

I’ll kill myself if you leave me.”

It seems like a no-win situation. When someone you’re close to says something like this, it can feel like the world just stopped spinning.

People who have a mental illness, such as Borderline Personality Disorder, typically have a higher risk for suicide. Depression, a history of substance abuse, and other disorders carry risks as well. If your partner truly wishes to die and has a plan and intention to follow through, get immediate help. Call your local emergency number, or call a National Suicide Hotline in your country. 

But what if your partner regularly threatens suicide, particularly whenever you’re not doing something he or she wants you to do, or when you’re trying to leave the relationship? First, understand that this is a form of emotional abuse: your partner is trying to manipulate you by playing on your feelings of love and…

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3 Ways to Keep Yourself Safe When You’re Not Ready to Leave Your Abusive Partner

This is an amazing article.

Personally, there are a lot of people who ask how they can get someone they love out of an abusive situation. Too often, I think that also takes the choice away from the ‘victim’. Which is maybe why some people go back. In my opinion, the best way to help a victim who is being abused, is to empower them to make their own choices.

If you are in an abusive relationship, and still living with your partner, my thoughts are with you. I hope you will find this article helpful/encouraging.

Domestic Violence In India

A feminine-presenting person hugging her knees with a pensive expression.(Content Warning: Intimate Partner Violence)

If you’re being abused by your partner, and you’re reading this right now, then you have awe-inspiring strength.

You’re suffering, but you have the courage to seek out ideas on how to take care of yourself.

I’m guessing you haven’t come across many tips like these. When I was being abused, the only advice I found was about how to leave an abusive partner, or how to heal after you’ve left.

But for a long time, I wasn’t ready to leave. And you and I aren’t the only ones to stay with a partner who’s been abusive.

The very nature of intimate partner violence (IPV) is that it often escalates gradually over time. Then, before you know it, you’re in a relationship marked by abuse, with no end in sight. On average, survivors attempt to leave seven times

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Why Didn’t I leave? Part II

Part II: The Practical Quandry

My personal emotional quagmire was not the only reason I struggled to leave. There was a practical side to things too.

  1. Where will I live?
  2. Can I afford to live on my own?
  3. How am I going to get around without a car?
  4. Will I lose friends and/or family?
  5. Can I afford to keep/protect my pets?
  6. How do I break away financially without him getting suspicious?
  7. What happens to our joint mortgage/bills?
  8. What happens when people get tired of helping me?

Even though I have a full-time job, people offering me rooms to stay, my situation over the past few years left me reluctant to put my life, livelihood, and living situation in anyone else’s hands. There are matters of trust I had to get past. Fears of inconveniencing others (though they assured me, time and again, I would not be an inconvenience.) Fears of being let down, or dropped, when I became too great of a burden. (I assumed I would be).

My ex’s patience with me was so short, I didn’t want to exchange that for simply another situation where people would be short and angry with me, too. I wasn’t willing to risk losing the independence I did have simply for a chance to be miserable somewhere else.

The fact of the matter was, I was paralyzed by the unknown of the distant future, and too emotionally exhausted to cope with more than one or two days of my present.

The reality of the situation, now that I am out, is this:

I don’t know what the next few years will have for me in the way of belongings, or possessions, or financial situation. I might be in a lot of debt for a long time. However, I will have my family. I will have my friends. I will have my pets. I will go home (wherever that is) and be at peace. Already I am sleeping more than I have in a long time, even when I don’t sleep well. Instead of ‘not sleeping well’ meaning 1 to 3 hours of sleep, it now means I ‘only’ got 5-6. Some nights I even manage a few, full eight hours.

I have no car. My personal space is limited to an 8×8 room. But I still have my job. The rest can come with time. I have a lifetime to figure that out.

Still, however, if I think too far ahead, the fear of the unknown is paralyzing. You see, for so long, when you live in an abusive relationship, it’s your job to overthink the possibilities. You have to be aware of what can happen, so you can minimize the fallout and the pain (emotional in my case, physical for some others) that you will experience. It’s something my counselor calls being hyper-vigilant, and was a way I survived in that terrible marriage for so long. But the trouble is, the things we learn to protect ourselves in an abusive relationship, don’t always translate so well to reality as other people see them.

I still marvel, that I am one of the lucky ones. I had the people to help me escape. I never let go of my job. I grieve the loss of children I’ve never had and may never have, but I know that choice of having no children made my departure easier, too. But I am out. And now that I am out, I realize that none of the above things really matter.

Because I will survive, and I’ll be happier doing so without an abusive marriage hanging over me. If I can escape that, I can do pretty much anything.

Bastard

I ruined my father’s life.

No one ever told me this. But somehow this understanding became a pervasive part of my childhood, and I cannot remember a time that knowledge wasn’t firmly rooted in my soul. My parents fought to do the right thing, when they found out I was about to exist. My father, the honorable man who asked my mother to marry him immediately. My mother, afraid to enter into a marriage with a man she hardly knew, who said no.

My mom said no to a lot of things, including her own mother, who wanted her to have an abortion. Continue reading

Nightmares

My counselor suggested I start recording my dreams. I think I can see a lot of the behind the scenes processing that went into this one. It was long, and vivid, and I don’t know that I capture quite how distressing it was.

—————————————————-

It’s hazy, and yet other things are distinct. I can see the pebbled grit of old pavement and the faded paint stripe beneath my foot. The building behind me bears the peaked roof and tall narrow windows of the church where we married. Yet when I look up, glance beyond to the road that runs alongside it, just past the beauty bark and letter-board, it disappears into an indistinct fog to the left and right. He’s there with me.

[I wake up, and fall asleep again, sliding right back into the dream but every time I do so, something shifts.]

I’m not sure why, but I climb into the passenger seat of my Ex’s vehicle. It’s the little blue car he first owned on the outside, but inside it’s bigger, with a Subaru wagon type trunk. I feel nervous, and wary, but he is pleasant and chatty and easy as he always is on his best days, fingers tapping an easy, fidgety tempo on the pleather wrapped steering wheel. Continue reading

Walking on the Ice / Living in Domestic Abuse

Forget walking on eggshells, an abuse relationship is much more like walking on ICE. So very, very true.

GentleKindness

I slipped on the ice today.  Not to worry, I did not injure anything. I was walking to my car. My feet started sliding on the ice and I could not rebalance myself. I could not step forward or backward, so I tried to stay still.

My feet were still sliding and I knew I was going to end up on the ground. There was nothing I could do but keep sliding until I ended up on the ice.

You have all heard the phrase “walking on eggshells.”  People will say, “He is so easy to anger that speaking to him is like walking on eggshells.”

So, you have the image of trying to walk across a floor, covering with egg shells and no matter how gently you walk, you are going to crush the shells.”

Living with someone who is abusive, is not so much like walking on eggshells…

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Coming out

No, I am not gay. (And despite the fact that I am a Christian, I have no problems with who people decide to love. I know some amazing people who fall in the spectrum of LGBT.) But talking about abuse seems like something so many want to sweep under the rug, to hide like a skeleton in the closet. And I’m going to be damned if I sit in silence any longer.

This was a painful and emotional weekend.

As part of my protection order, my lawyer suggested it might save us money if we wrote a way into the contact order to contact one another outside of lawyers. At the time the judge made it clear, that the e-mail option we chose, was not to be used in a threatening way. However, my ex has been growing more and more comfortable with it, and I shut it down on Sunday.

Here he is, in our home, with our car, having me pay half the mortgage for nearly 3 months now, barely inconvenienced – while I am borrowing rides, working out carpools with strangers, riding the bus, reliant on others. I’ve barely taken anything from the house. Some personal property, and three shelves. The crock pot. Candle stuff.

Continue reading

How do I leave?

Those who are struggling with issues of Domestic Violence involve not only the person experiencing that situation first hand, but also those around them who know or suspect what is going on. While there are a bunch of resources out there for people in domestic violence situations, the difficulty is in getting those resources to the people who need them. Not only that, but it can be difficult to disseminate the information in a safe manner.

My situation was helped by the fact I had a good support team. When I got married, I made a promise to myself to prioritize my friendships and relationships with the people I cared about. If you are going through a difficult time, I know it is hard not to hide away and isolate yourself, but try to keep or rebuild some connections. If you haven’t, now is the time to slowly start establishing any relationship that is non-threatening to your abuser. Try and have something you do with enough regularity that it becomes routine and he or she hopefully doesn’t question it. This might help give you a break, and will help you make contacts that may help you if you need to leave.

If you are in a dangerous situation I highly encourage:

  • Have a safe word or phrase (or two). I had a safe word for “Call 911 and come right away, I am in immediate danger”. I also had another safe word that was, “We need to move up my departure plans ASAP.”
  • Do not use any computer or phone that the abuser has access to, or that the abuser can access the history or contact records of.
  • Be wary of your use of social media and instant messenging.
  • Create an emergency bag you can store at a friend or family members home.
  • Whenever possible, have someone else coordinate resources and plans for you, and perhaps be a point of contact. My mother did this for me. I barely had the mental capacity to get up in the morning, let alone function on any rational level due to my level of exhaustion. Below are some links you may find of immediate assistance.

Preparing to leave:

Creating a safety plan

Why didn’t I leave? – Part I

Part 1: Emotional Quandry

Nearly five years ago, my husband glared over the breakfast bar at me, and snarled, “I am going to slit your throat while you sleep.” Standing in the kitchen, body strung taught like a bow about to launch an arrow, he had easy access to half a dozen knives of all shapes and sizes. I don’t remember the moments immediately prior. I don’t remember the moments immediately after. What I do remember is the hard look in his eyes and feeling more terrified than I ever have been in my life.

Although I called 911 – citing fear my husband was suicidal, and stating that I didn’t feel safe – I didn’t breathe a word of what happened to anyone. Not the full words. I did mention to two people, after a struggle, that he had said ‘something really bad’. Continue reading

Aftershock (…and ramblings)

My cheeks ached from forcing smiles by the time I climbed into my borrowed car, stuck the key in ignition, and yanked the door awkwardly closed. After the heartpounding throb of loud music and the bouncing flamboyance of a Drag Queen show, the silence echoed. There was something about the silliness of it all that was actually fun, and yet the talent of the actor/dancers in mimicking a famous celebrity was just as astounding.

Yet now the evening was over, and I was sitting alone in my parents van.

The night was bittersweet, even midst the fun moments. Apparently it was Bachelorette night, as they had at least nine brides to be, some blushing furiously and others simply settling in for a long night of drinking. For the first time, I felt a surge of hearty cynicism, reflecting on what I’ve just emerged from, and trying not to think of what these mostly younger women might be walking into. Continue reading

Did my Abuser Love me in the Beginning?

Thought this was a powerful post, lots to consider in this.

Overcoming Narcissistic Abuse

One of the most difficult things to come to terms with is that your abuser did not love you. There are a couple of reasons why this is so hard to process. 

It is hard for us to believe that they did not love us, because they told us they loved us. Why would someone tell you they loved you, if they didn’t ?  Most people are very careful with the words “I love You.”

We have been brought up in a world that tells us not to say those words until we are sure.

We have been brought up in a world where we know that people will hold those words back, until they are very sure that they feel that way. Not only do people hold onto “I love you,” until they are sure about their feelings, they will also hold out on saying it, until they feel…

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