First, I want to tell you that you're not alone. You may feel alone. You might think no one else could possibly understand the chaos you endure on a daily basis. But please take heart knowing there are people of all walks of life who understand
and your confusion.
Let us help.
Abuse comes in many forms-- physical, emotional, economic, sexual. Your deepest pain may not be from bruises, neglect, empty bank accounts, broken bones or ruined credit. Your deepest pain is likely caused by the incredible trauma your heart has endured from being repeatedly betrayed by someone you loved and trusted.
Maybe you've begun to feel like you're crazy, but you're not. If you're in an abusive relationship, it's normal to doubt your own sense of reality. Your abuser may tell you things that fuel your inner confusion. Things like-
"You've got it all wrong."
"I tried to help you."
"I did this for you."
"You should be _________" (thankful, excited, more appreciative, etc.)
"You can't be serious."
"Your family doesn't love you like I love you."
"That may be how you remember things, but you were __________" (drinking, tired, crazy...)
"If you didn't buy so many _________, I wouldn't have to __________."
"If only you ______________ (had bigger boobs, more money, lost 10 lbs., could keep your mouth shut.....), then I wouldn't have to _______________."
"Grow up. Don't be so sensitive."
After living on the frontlines of your abuser's psychological warfare for a time, you've likely lost a great deal of self-esteem. Your ability to think rationally is probably severely compromised. You may have lost confidence in your decision-making skills, always second-guessing yourself, therefore you might feel dependent on your abuser. You may have come to the point at which you believe you can't survive on your own. You also might feel like you'd betray your abuser by opening up to a friend or calling an agency for help. This is all normal for the situation you're in. Remember: you are not crazy. Your abuser has isolated you and succeeded in manipulating you to believe you're the problem.
You may have spent months or years hoping things will change. You could be telling yourself, "If only....." or "When x happens, then ....." However, it's important to learn that you'll never meet the needs of your abuser. That day will NEVER come. It's impossible, because an abuser's needs, opinions, stories, rationalizations, and justifications change every day. Your abuser is the problem.
Your abuser has been projecting his/her own self-loathing and feelings of worthlessness onto you. If you've been in your relationship a long time, it's likely you've begun to own your abuser's feelings of self-hatred as your own. And, as a result, it's no wonder you've stayed in that relationship for so long. You may have come to believe you are a terrible person - a problem and a burden - and your abuser is a hero for hanging in there with you. You may think, Who else would have me?
People wonder why victims of abuse stay with their abuser, but I understand. I've been there.
Making a change is so difficult because sometimes we think the devil we know is better than the one we don't. Fear of an unknown future can be paralyzing. However, crossing to safety is a journey you don't need to make on your own. Confide in a trusted family member or friend, and with their help, devise a plan to leave your abuser. Please don't wing it. Get a plan in motion and let others you trust help. If you have no idea where to start, call the national hotline and they will point you in the right direction: 1-800-799-SAFE.
Any form of abuse is not OK. You don't have to be hit to be hurt. Do not discount your pain just because you have no physical scars. Emotional, financial, and sexual abuse are just as harmful as physical abuse. In fact, some of the deepest scars are the ones no one can see. I see you. I hear you. I know your pain. Take the first step today.
May peace be with you,
P.S. The online writing community lost friend Christine Keith last week. Christine was a healthy-eating blogger and Zumba instructor from Lansing, Michigan. Christine and her 14-year old son were murdered by her estranged husband. Her three younger children were safely at Grandma's during the shooting and survive her. Christine had filed for divorce in October. Her husband had threatened her, but no one believed he would actually harm her. Click here for more on Christine Keith. To help Chris's surviving children, click here.
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