There are thousands of women, and men, out there living a silent hell in horribly abusive relationships, marriages and unions who haven’t let go of the hope for a happy life with their abuser.
These victims don’t want to face the truth about their partners because they don’t want to give up the hope for a loving relationship and for remarkably simple reasons, they believe their abusers are their only chance.
Victims tell themselves a variety of excuses for the abuse that keep them in the relationship. They believe:
- Their partner has some sort of illness or condition like bi-polar or aneurism that is causing the Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde behavior;
- They themselves are the cause, by putting high expectations or unreasonable demands on their abuser;
- That couples counseling will solve the problem;
- That circumstances are the cause, such as a negative job or difficult childhood;
- That there is something they can do to heal, fix or make better the relationship/abuser.
And more subconsciously;
- They are not good enough for better;
- They are too demanding;
- They will take any kind of love, no matter how unhealthy or diminished.
The dynamic of abuser and victim is not really complicated but is very misunderstood and is only now being investigated. Here is a great article that sheds light on the dance.
In order for the dance to stop and the dynamic to end, the victim must realize that these are not truths or causes and that the abuser will not change, not without a lot of self-sought help.
Abusers are of course broken human beings who are in their own dance within their thoughts to handle a very deep fear and insecurity. They make the choice to abuse as a way to deal with fear. Victims may see through to the heart of the abuser and have compassion, sympathy, even pity. So, the victim believes that there is something out there that can “cure” those dark and broken feelings within their abuser and they will try to find it.
Victims I know, myself included, decide not to throw away the abuser simply because they abuse. Instead, we held out in the hope that they would and could change.
I spent many years trying to find the trick or answer that would change my ex-husband so that we could have a normal life and raise our children in peace.
I didn’t give up for a very long time, because so much was at stake.
And with each year of failure, my self-esteem, already so damaged, slipped more and more.
My relationship was no where near what I had hoped for and was beginning to believe was impossible no matter what.
I lived in a delusion that controlled nearly every thought I had all because I thought this was my only shot at my dreams and didn’t want to loose it.
I paid a very high price to cling to something that never was. My ex-husband may have been able to fake the part of a husband and partner in love, but he never, not from day one, ever was.
Finally, I began to accept it and the truths about him. That he was completely self-centered and was never going to be a partner. That he would do anything, including hurt me in anyway, to get what he wanted or vend off his deeply inner pain. His fear and desire drove him every minute of his day and there would never be any room for others.
My ex-husband still lives this way, from the bits and pieces of his life that I see through co-parenting. He still abuses me, too, though not physically. I am not a person to him, but no one is. I am a tool that he uses to make himself feel better in the moment.
He doesn’t really care about the future, as much as he cares about himself in the moment.
I left him after 15 years together, 10 years of physical abuse and emotional abuse beyond comprehension. I struggled in disbelieve that anyone could care so little about their wife, mother of their children, another person. I was in shock and denial for a very long time, even after I divorced him.
Finally, I accept the simplicity of the situation: I married an abuser, who likely has a personality disorder that will never be “cured” and I don’t want to spend the rest of my life in that dance. I want peace in my life more than the fantasy of the white picket fence life I had in my head. I want peace in my life more than I want a husband. I want peace in my life even more than I want food on my table.
Finally, I accept that there is nothing I can do for my abusive ex-husband except pray for him and those in his path. And it is best that I stay away from him in every way.
Finally, I accept that there is nothing I did to deserve this fate. I tried to make it work with a man who said he loved me and I gave it a very good try. I did my best, that was the choice I made. Then, I made another one. I couldn’t give anymore of my self to this person who would never give back. I didn’t want to be with someone who was so careless about my vulnerabilities. I longed for something real and better, but it was never going to be with this man.
I accept that leaving is messy and has a lot of hurdles. Unfortunately, the courts in most states don’t understand domestic abuse and so therefore add trauma to the already traumatic situation. Unfortunately, I was a stay-at-home mother, years out of the work force, so I had to make my way through the economic hardships that it caused.
I accept that I have traumatic stress from the years of anxiety he put me through and I need to continue to work with excellent therapy to heal from that and I accept that I have to co-parent with my abuser because the family court says I must.
I accept that our society is learning too slowly about domestic abuse and how it works and damages children, families, and even the fabric of our communities.
And, I accept that I am OK despite all the bad stuff. In fact, I am grateful for the life I have, my children, my friends and my successes. I am grateful to have a journey to travel and I am grateful that I have stopped putting energy into trying to get back on some path I thought I was walking.
If you are reading this and think that you might be in an abusive relationship, please get help. You need it and it will be better. If you are reading this and think you know someone who is being abuse, please reach out to them. It will be very bumpy if you do, but you are saving a life, maybe the lives of children. If you are reading this, and you are a lawmaker, please learn about what really does prevent domestic abuse and bring it to your state legislature.
And if you are reading this, and know an abuser, please help by letting them know you know and you don’t condone it. Abusers abuse because they can and have very little backlash for the choice. When they realize that their avenues of abuse are shutting down, that’s when they stop.
Abusers can be “shamed” into stopping. They can not be “loved” into it. It’s that simple.