Saturday, April 20, 2013

Why Did I Stay?

Whenever I talk with someone who doesn't have direct experience with abuse, she wants to know why women stay? Why does she allow the abuse to continue? Those of us who have lived in abuse know the answer is a long one. If you're currently in spousal abuse, I am hoping that the following list would also help you to get in touch with your deepest feelings.

I stayed with an abusive spouse for forteen years because:
  1. My childhood traumas had already pre-conditioned me: I had already been raped many times. I'd already been screamed at lots. I'd already weathered many emotional attacks and barbs. In my soul I believed that I must deserve it.
  2. I had made a vow to God, family and friends so I was determined to keep my word. For a long time, I treated my husband's "anger problem" as fitting the part in vow about staying married even "in sickness." I didn't want to be a quitter.
  3. I wanted to be a great mom and was convinced that meant I had to stay married, no matter what. I didn't want my kids to go through the pain of divorce. I didn't want to be responsible for them growing up in a single parent home.
  4. I felt a very strong attachment to my husband: I loved him. Not just an ordinary love, but the ramped up version that kidnap victims experience (Stockholm Syndrome). I  couldn't imagine that I could ever be happy without him.
  5. I felt pity for my husband and didn't want to cause him further injury: He'd been abused as a child. He'd been laid off many times. He was dependent on me emotionally. He had a tough time dealing with any stress.
  6. I was adept at minimization: It wasn't that bad. Other people had to live in much worse environments. I didn't want to be a wimp.
  7. I had become adept at denial: I was shut down emotionally. I felt like a dead woman who still walked around and did things. I had no passion to empower me.
  8. I always wanted to believe that it wouldn't happen anymore: There wouldn't be a next time because he'd finally understand the pain he was causing. He'd get healthier emotionally with help from God.
  9. I was exhausted and felt prematurely ancient: My energy was gone. Surviving had taken everything I had.
  10. I feared my husband might commit suicide: He'd used suicidal phrases throughout the years. If I left with the children. How would I live with that guilt? How could I treat someone I loved that way?
  11. My spouse had ensured that I was isolated: Without a support system it is difficult to make drastic changes. When I did leave, I did get help from several women I had persistently stayed in touch with, even though my husband objected.
  12. My financial freedom had been stripped: I had no independent source of money or credit. It was all tied to him. I was a stay-at-home mom who rarely had any cash in her wallet.
  13. I had no idea how I would financially support myself and my three children on my own. I virtually had no self-esteem left.
  14. I was afraid of him: He had given me and my children bruises and he had many threats. I didn't want to imagine what he'd do if I tried to leave.
I finally left when the harm he was willing to inflict on the children terrified me. I knew I had to protect my children. When I prayed about it, I felt that God was telling me that I had to leave now in order to keep my children safe and to give them a decent life.

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Recommended Books

  • 10 Lifesaving Principles for Women in Difficult Marriages by Karla Downing
  • A Way of Hope by Leslie J. Barner
  • Angry Men and the Women Who Love Them by Paul Hegstrom
  • Battered But Not Broken by Patricia Riddle Gaddis
  • Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
  • Bradshaw on the Family by John Bradshaw
  • Caring Enough to Forgive/Not Forgive by David Augsburger
  • Codependent No More by Melody Beattie
  • Healing the Wounded Heart by Dr. Dan B. Allendar
  • Keeping the Faith: Questions and Answers for the Abused Woman by Marie M. Fortune
  • Perfect Daughters by Robert J. Ackerman, Ph.D.
  • Recovery: A Guide for Adult Children of Alcoholics by Herbert L. Gravitz and Julie D. Bowden
  • Safe People by Dr Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
  • Slay Your Own Dragons by Nancy Good
  • The Cinderella Syndrome by Lee Ezell
  • The Dance of Anger by Harriet Goldhor Lerner, Ph.D.
  • The Search for Significance by Robert S. McGee
  • Turning Fear to Hope by Holly Wagner Green
  • When Violence Comes Home: Help for Victims of Spouse Abuse by Tim Jackson and Jeff Olson
  • Why Does He Do That? by Lundy Bancroft