Since 1981, October has been deemed Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Today, a domestic assault occurs once every 15 seconds in the U.S.
Hundreds of thousands of women (and men) each year are victims of domestic violence. As a former victim (and now survivor), this month is near and dear to my heart.
In January, it will be five years since I chose to leave my abuser and raise my kids on my own. And although the journey to get free has been tougher than I ever imagine it would, the peace that has come with our freedom is sweeter than I ever thought it would taste.
This post is in honor of every person who has been the victim of domestic violence, who still is, who has escaped and survived, and who has helped someone living with domestic violence.
If you are still in a domestic violence situation, call 911 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).
Table of Contents
Why Domestic Violence Victims Stay
In the nearly five years that have passed since I left my abuser, I have had the opportunity to meet with, become friends with and counsel many other victims and survivors. People often ask me why I stayed, and why other victims stay. This post (copied and modified by me) explains it better than I ever could.
Why Doesn’t She Leave?
- Because he has her so brainwashed that it’s all her fault and that she’s no good to anyone and no one will ever want her or love her and there’s no way she can possibly make it on her own.
- Because she thinks that if she just tries harder and if she’s a better wife and a better mom that maybe he will be happy with her and he wouldn’t get so angry with her. And maybe he will be the same sweet, charming man that he was when they first met.
- Because he has her convinced that if she tries to leave he will hurt or kill her or her family.
- Because he has threatened to tell the judge that she is a bad mom and they will take away her kids and she will never see them again.
- Because he has taken away her money and convinced her that she has no good job qualities to make it on her own financially and she will always need him.
- Because, in the calm times, he tells her that the bad treatment that happened to her never happened. She lives life questioning her sanity and ability to reason
More people are concerned with why women stay in abusive relationships than why men are abusing women. Unless you’ve been in an abusive relationship you have no idea how hard it is to escape. Abusers are able to fool those outside the home because they usually only abuse those inside the home.
We need your support
We need your love
We do not need your judgement
You CAN Break Free
There Can Be Life After Abuse
Every single one of the lines written above exemplifies my life with my abuser. However, now, even throughout the pain and struggle of recovery, there is hope.
Here is what I’ve learned about myself in the last nearly five years, and what other survivors can find too in their journey to freedom.
Leaving your abuser is harder than you could ever imagine, but the rewards of living a safe and healthy life are well worth the journey
- You are smarter, stronger and more resilient than you think you are
- You DO have a support system if you are willing to look for it
- You CAN learn to support yourself financially
- Your kids will (if not right away, eventually) look up to you for living a life of integrity and strength and perseverance
- You DESERVE self care, protection and GOOD things in your life
- You deserve to learn to take care of and support yourself and your kids—and you can do this!
It’s taken my kids and I nearly five years to overcome the trauma we endured and get to a place where we are functioning in a healthy manner. And we’ve still got plenty of recovery work to do.
I’m not going to sugar coat it: This has been the toughest journey I’ve ever walked–and I’ve lived a life that has been tougher than what most have gone through.
BUT. It has been worth every tear and every struggle.
I am FREE. My kids are free. And we have learned how to set healthy boundaries. We are happy. We are getting healthier and stronger every day.
As with everything, freedom isn’t free. But my kids and I have found that freedom from a life of domestic violence is well worth the price.
If You Need Help
If you are in a domestic violence situation and are ready to get free, it’s important to do so safely. Call the numbers listed above. Either call 911 (yes, it IS an emergency), or call 1800-799-SAFE the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
Go to someone in your life you know you can trust, and tell them your story. Take your kids and get to a safe place.
You deserve health, happiness and a safe life!
If you know someone who is living with domestic violence, please direct them to a local domestic violence organization than can help. Simply do an internet search for your area.
For instance, this link can help you find domestic violence shelters in your area.
Although I don’t have the ability to help you personally, there are plenty of resources in your area for you to get help. Godspeed on your journey to freedom. As long as you are alive, there is hope.