Abuse comes in many forms to many people. Today I share Why I Stayed And The Memories Of Abuse I Wish I Didn’t Have. If you have looked at social media, watched the news or even tuned in to your favorite sports broadcast or radio show in the past week, you have surely heard about the incident with Ray Rice and his fiance. The video and press release will show you that this so-called celebrity not only beat his fiance, but dragged her from an elevator while on video. In the statements made, she actually apologized for her actions that caused his behavior. This has incited quite a bit of flack on many levels, but for me personally has brought back Why I Stayed And The Memories Of Abuse I Wish I Didn’t Have. Reading the comments and viewing the interviews makes me hurt for other women who have been in this place in their lives. Abuse isn’t funny. Abuse isn’t easy. Being a victim changes who you are.
WHY I STAYED AND THE MEMORIES OF ABUSE I WISH I DIDN’T HAVE
As a woman who has been in that figurative elevator with the abuser, I understand both the apology and the fear that leads it. That fact rips me up inside. To watch another human being, albeit one I don’t know personally, going through what I have struggled with myself is painful. Knowing until she reaches her breaking point she will stay, it frightens me. What will her breaking point be? Will it be too late?
Why Do Women Stay?
They Have Been Emotionally Destroyed And Feel They Have No Options: This is something that I personally feel only victims can truly understand the extent of. When you are being abused (verbally, physically, sexually) your abuser works hard to make you feel you are unworthy, unlovable and without options. They will tear down your walls until you are nothing like the person you use to be. You are left without confidence or self-esteem. Any help or outside options available are torn apart by the abuser to make them seem unavailable and irrational.
In my case, all of my friends and family were systematically alienated from my life. I was controlled to a point I no longer did anything without my abusers permission. This left me in a place where I had few people to call on. Those I had remaining in my life my abuser convinced me would be unable or unwilling to help me should I go to them.
Fear: The resounding factor in these situations is fear. Even the strongest woman you know can shrink in fear at their abusers threats and actions. You truly don’t know unless you have been there to witness the threats, just how far an abuser has gone to create a cloud of fear over their victim. The number one reason women will stay is fear. Fear of death. Fear of more pain. Fear for their kids, friends or family. Fear is the residing factor in all of these situations and it is not easy to dispute with a victim.
Abusers use many tactics to create the element of fear in their victim. They can physically harm them repeatedly as was my case, but they will also use the emotional tactics of above to remove their safety of friends and family. Threats of physical or sexual violence are often enough to keep a victim in place. Sometimes however, the fear comes from the unthinkable threat of death to themselves or those they loved.
In my case, I lay awake on many nights as my abuser described how he wished to get back at those who had hurt him or caused him pain in his own life. The descriptions of torture and eventual death, as well as the descriptions of what had been done to others prior to my appearance in his life were enough to put a steady stream of fear in me. I truly feared for my own life, but that also of my family and a few friends who had attempted to help me out in the past. Fear goes much farther than encouragement will in a victims mind.
How Can We Help Victims Of Abuse?
Provide True Compassion & Help: There are many instances where your offer of help may not seem safe enough for a victim. For my personal situation in years past, there was one individual who offered repeatedly for me to come live with them and be safe. I however, knew that they could not protect me from my abuser. He would stop at nothing to control me. That meant he would come to their place of safety and hurt them if necessary to control me.
When you make an offer of help and the victim says no thank you, always follow that with your love and support. Let them know that if there is another way or another place you can help them get to then let you know. I knew if I could get out of the area, to a place he wouldn’t know to look for me I would be safe. I however had no means financially to make that happen. Having someone genuinely offer to help get me out of the area to a place of safety where he wouldn’t look would have been the window I needed to leave the situation.
Sometimes it is difficult for outsiders to understand and accept why a victim (male or female) would stay in an abusive situation. While we can look at it from our standpoint and know what we would do in those shoes, we cannot know the full extent of their suffering emotionally and physically. There may be much more to the situation than meets the eye. Having a heart of compassion and truly being the friend who will help them, not just if and when it is convenient to us, is the best difference we can make in their lives.
I wish I could always put the now popular hashtag #WhyILeft with all of my stories. Instead I have to admit Why I Stayed is much more common in my vocabulary. I spent many years in an abusive situation I wish I could go back and leave immediately instead of lingering. The memories of abuse I wish I didn’t have linger years down the road. They have shaped who I am. Regardless of the place I am now, I wish I could go back and never have lived through them at all. While this incident between Ray Rice and his then fiance (now wife) happened some time ago, it leads to fear and speculation about continued abuse in their marriage. I hurt for this woman and pray that the abuse has indeed stopped. If not, I hope she finds the strength to leave this relationship and be free and safe. Everyone deserves to have safety.
Do you have a story of “why I stayed” or “Why I left” to share?