Domestic Violence, Hope, Uncategorized

Why I Didn’t Leave

Why I didn’t leave. That is the question that haunts me, and increases the anxiety that was left behind. Why didn’t I just go? I didn’t even love him, so why would I stay? I wrestle with these thoughts, some days more than others. And, recently, I learned that it wasn’t my fault.  

I did try to leave on a couple of occasions, and each time ended with some of the worst physical violence that I had ever experienced. And my children witnessed it. As babies, and with eyes of innocence. They saw and heard as their mommy was beaten. They heard their daddy threaten to kill mommy, while he told me they didn’t love me. At two and four years old they had to defend me. They had to save me. lrg_dsc00994

When I replay those times in my mind, I wish I had the strength to call his bluff. I wish that I would have taken my babies, and saved them, instead of them saving me. I wish that I could have made their memories happy, and not be haunted with the thoughts that not even adults should have to carry.

Knowing what they went through and what they saw make it hard not to blame myself.  Those thoughts made me feel like a bad mother. They made it hard to see that I was not part of the problem. We were all surviving, and I truly believed that if I left, I would have been killed.

Before my first child was even born, he told me he would take my baby from me, and never allow me to see him. I believed him. He told me his family had money, and they would take me to court to prove I was unfit. I believed him. I did not have family to turn to. I did not have money to hire a lawyer. I believed him. I believed him when he said he was going to kill me. I believed him when he said no one would miss me. I believed him when he said I was worthless. I believed he would kill me, and my children would be left in his care.

It was all part of the power and control that abusers use. I didn’t know it was all a part of his plan, to make me so weak that I couldn’t fight back. I didn’t know that with every hateful, hurtful word, he was crushing my spirit. I didn’t know how much power the fear held over me. It was just life. It was all I knew, in turn, becoming all my children knew.

I apologized to my children for not leaving sooner. They told me it wasn’t my fault. Each one of them, at different times. I didn’t want them to save me any longer. I didn’t want them to take the guilt away.  They told me, each in their own way, that it wasn’t my fault. That they didn’t blame me for what happened, or for staying longer than we should have. They blame him.

“Mom, he was the one that hurt us.”

“Mommy, he was the one that was so mean.”

“He hurt you. And us. He was bigger, and stronger.”

“Mom, you got us out. You are the reason we are safe now.”

“You are my protector.”

“Thank you for never leaving us.”

“Thank you for loving us.”

Their words bring me comfort. Hearing how they are able to process the past, and learn from the fear, and pain lets me see I am doing something right. I am a good mom. They love me, and trust me. And, I am their protector. I will have their backs no matter what. Day by day, we each heal a little more. The broken parts become smoothed over, and we are stronger for it.

lrg_dsc00983 The next time you say, “Why won’t she just leave?” Please remember you don’t know the whole story. You do not know all of the details. If she leaves, he might kill her. If she leaves, he may hurt her children, or pets, or family. If she leaves, she may not have anywhere to go. If she leaves him, she may not have any money for the things she or the children need. If she leaves him, she still may not be safe. You cannot judge a person when you have not been in their situation.

Please remember, she is doing her best. She is trying harder than most, just to survive. Every. Single. Day.

Be patient.

Be kind.

She is stronger than she knows.

 

 

11 thoughts on “Why I Didn’t Leave”

  1. One of the things that appalls me is that we never fully saw the depths of the abuse that went on. Society expects us to be “nice”, to be “polite”, to be “civilized” more than ever when we desperately need to ask for help. We mustn’t make a scene!

    If the Kavanaugh hearings have taught America anything it is that we MUST MAKE A SCENE! We must scream, kick, run, band together when we can. Women bring life into the world, a woman nursed you. There’s a good chance a woman will comfort you as you leave the world. THE ABUSE WILL STOP.

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  2. It weighs on my heart to read this. So sad, both that you were a prisoner held in virtual chains by this man, and that you have been a prisoner of regrets. It’s so clear to anyone who has met you and your children that you are a very strong, loving mother, one who has in fact saved her children from a terrible situation but also from the aftermath, doing all you can to help the whole family to recover and by being the one who gives them safety and love. I think it was impossible to help anyone while you were imprisoned and bound by fear. The reality of then literally made it impossible for you to escape and protect yourself or your children, despite the love you’ve always felt.

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  3. Give yourself the break you would hearing another woman, or man, tell this. It is HARD to leave, hard to stay, hard to be abused. But you have survived, and your children have survived, and it sounds like they are decent, caring people now. I count all that as a win. Be well.

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  4. You DID leave! Maybe not in the beginning, but when you finally could. The kids are right! And they are good kids, guided by a strong, independent, loving, amazing Mother. The time to leave is always when the time is right! When I finally left Ohio, I got as far as PA when I realized my brake line had been cut, just enough so that it would slowly leak dry! I was only going about 70 MPH when I realized I no longer had any brakes! But I didn’t get into an accident, and got them fixed and moved on. There is more, for another day. The point is – we leave when the time is right, which is seldom, if ever, at the beginning of the abuse! You left when YOUR time was right!!

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    1. Love yourself as your children do Jessica.
      I spent 18 years with an emotionally abusive man. He spoke badly of me, when I wasn’t around, to my children but yet I stayed. He spoke badly to me in front of them as well, but yet I stayed. He was a very mentally ill man and I did my best to cover it all up by smiling and pretending everything was going to be ok. I pretty much had myself convinced in the process. He had been abused physically and mentally as a child and somehow I thought I could “save” him. I feel I was put in his life path for a reason. Not only to help him but more importantly to help his three children that had lost their mom or one mom gave up on. In the process though I had two wonderful children of my own by him. I will never regret that and forever be grateful for them which are a part of him. I applaud you for your strength and compassion for life. I applaud you for writing your book. I applaud you for so very many things sweetheart. I’m proud of you for taking a stand and getting out with your children long before I ever did. My only regret is I didn’t leave sooner BUT I did leave, the children, now adults, made it through just fine as will yours.
      Love You so Much 💖

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