Everyone stands and applauds as the soldiers walk through the airport, returning home from a long deployment where they have faced danger and even risk of life. We can only imagine what they have been through and we are thankful they have made it out.
Often, when an abuse victim finally leaves no one applauds the bravery it took to completely change her life. Instead, she is asked what took so long. She loses friends and family as her abuser does what he can to destroy her support system.
It took me and others I know so long to leave because we had to live in a deep state of denial to survive the relationship.
The question is: Why doesn’t our community offer more support and less criticism? If victims had the help they needed they would probably leave earlier. I know of many stay-at-home moms of little ones who can’t see a way out. They are already experiencing financial abuse without money in savings to hire an attorney or find a safe place to live.
Domestic violence is a problem with and in our society. If abusers didn’t think they could get away with it they would stop. Abusers can behave in a normal way in public so we know they can control what they do behind closed doors they just choose not to.
If we could have more discussions about this problem and hear from victims who are now living a successful life, it would help pave the way for others. I know I don’t speak up about what I have gone through as much as I should. It’s difficult because I don’t want to be seen as dramatic or crazy, both of which I was conditioned to believe about myself by my abuser.
Women who have survived are in a daily fight to keep standing strong and continue fighting the internal war that remains as they heal and move on with their lives. I have been free for two and a half years and I still suffer from nightmares and feeling like I will never be good enough.
I think the best thing we can do is to model healthy behavior for our children and teach them what is and is not acceptable in an intimate relationship. They also need to know that we will be there for them if they find themselves in a troubled relationship so they can dare to get out.
If you were in an abusive relationship and ran to freedom I applaud you.
First published on Medium on June 20, 2021