I’ve heard it all before.
- How come you’re still there?
- I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy.
- I would have run away instantly.
- I would have seen those red flags from a mile away.
- I wouldn’t allow that to happen to me.
Not as easy as it seems
Leaving an abusive situation is never as easy as it seems. There are so many factors that come into play, and it’s not as simple as just walking away. For one, you worry about your safety–what if the abuser finds you? What if they hurt you worse than they ever have before? You also have to think about your friends and family. In my case, I had a 9-year-old daughter to protect. I couldn’t just leave her with the abuser–I had to make sure she was safe too.
Then there’s the emotional aspect. Abusers are incredibly manipulative, and they can make you feel you’re the one who’s crazy. They’ll make you feel like it’s your fault, that if you would just do what they want.
My narcissistic ex made me feel like a failure for thirteen years. I could never succeed on my own. He often would tell me no one would believe me about the emotion, physical, mental, and sexual abuse he put me and my daughter through. He also told me he would see that no one would hire me. In the massage community, he tried to blackball me. Thankfully, I had a strong support system for that. He gaslit and conditioned me to believe I would be nothing without him. Alone. Broke. And scared for the rest of my life. And most likely in jail because I was a terrible mother. So many calls and visits from DFS that were unsubstantiated. From having no food in the house (my fridge was full) to liking zombies too much. Even after he discarded me, he still tried to control me.
I am not alone
My situation is not unique. Leaving an abusive situation is not as easy as just leaving. In fact, most times, it’s downright dangerous. Abusers will often use threats of violence, intimidation, or economic abuse to keep their victims in line. They may also try to enlist a circle of helpers (AKA flying monkeys) to smear the victim’s name and continue the abuse.
Therefore, it’s so important for abuse survivors to have a support system in place before they leave. Friends, family, and domestic violence advocates can offer crucial emotional support and practical resources, like safe housing or legal help. They can also help keep the abuser from further harassing or harming the victim.
It’s scary and hard and worth it
Leaving an abusive situation is a one of the scariest things I ever did. My child was getting ready to start school in two weeks and I was homeless. I had no permanent address, so I couldn’t get a bank account for my mom to send me money. I had no car to get to work.
But what I had was friends. I slept on a friend’s couch while my kid slept on the floor of her daughter’s room. My now husband let me borrow a car. After 2 weeks, I got a small house to rent.
I was on my way to freedom.
It’s not as easy as just leaving. Be brave and strong. You have to know that you are worth more than the abuse you are taking.
Get out and get help
If you need help, please get it. Leaving an abusive relationship is difficult. It takes bravery and strength to leave. You have to know that you are worth more than the abuse you are taking.
When you’re ready, there are plenty of resources to help you. You deserve better. Your kids deserve better. You deserve a life of not being afraid. You deserve a life in the sun. And if you need help, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline. They are open 24/7. They have English and Spanish speakers and 200+ through interpretation service. 800-799-7233.