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Dear Outside World;
Often times, survivors are bombarded with the same repetitive question: Why didn’t you leave sooner? or Why didn’t you leave when he or she hit you the first time?
Let me be very clear, no one stays in a relationship because they enjoy the abuse. Do you want to know why someone stays in an abusive relationship? Mainly, out of fear. Fear for their own lives as well as the lives of their family. Secondly, the abuser has more than likely isolated the victim from their family and friends, therefore; the victim feels that he or she has nowhere to go. A victim of domestic violence doesn’t become a victim when the abuser physically harms them. He or she becomes a victim the moment the abuser starts belittling, calling the victim names, starts to control things like what the victim can and cannot wear, for female victims; they don’t want you to wear makeup or your hair a certain way. The abuser takes control of your money, they determine when and if you can see your family and friends, and then cuts you off from them completely. (All this tends to occur first before the actual physical abuse starts)
You see, when you look from the outside, you CANNOT JUDGE A VICTIM, you have NO RIGHT! You have no knowledge on this subject, I often tell people that someone who has been victimized this way should be connected with a survivor of domestic violence. It doesn’t matter how many years of schooling you had, how many degrees you have on your belt. You still will not have an idea or sense of the emotions that this individual has experienced during the relationship, nor will you fully understand the emotions the individual will feel while going through the aftermath and their healing process. (If you disagree please feel free and comment)
So, why didn’t I leave after the first time my ex actually hit me? Because I was petrified! Because this individual had said he would kill me, because he said I would never make it out without both my legs being broken. I stayed because I was brainwashed into thinking he was all that I had. I stayed because I had no friends, that when I did manage to sneak a phone call into one of them they ignored my calls, or cussed me out. I didn’t even have a chance to tell my friends I needed their help. They had no idea that all this happened until years later! And believe me, those same few friends I have in my life now, I know they regret it terribly. I didn’t leave because I was embarrassed, I was ashamed. My whole mentality on life was so distorted. I felt like I may have done something to deserve it. Or that maybe it actually was my fault.
Do you know what it feels like to have to sneak out of your own house just to spend time with your own mother? To have your mother buy you a cell phone to keep in contact with her and hide it from your abuser? Even with that, have to try and put on a facade in front of her that everything is okay because you do not want her worrying about you? (as if she didn’t know. Mom always knows) Do you know what it is like to have to lie to the ENTIRE world, when really all you want to do is scream for help? Yet you are in so much fear you somehow manage to paint a smile on your face.
Tell me, Outsider; do you know what it is like to experience all this on a constant basis? 24/7 for however many years, there are no breaks, do you know what good days are like to a victim? Guess what, there are no good days in an abusive relationship; unless you count a good day as not getting choked, slapped, kicked or punched!
There seems to be a huge misconception on victims and survivors of domestic violence from the outside world. I get it, it comes from ignorance. The lack of knowledge that one has towards this issue. Yet, if only you would just listen. DO NOT SPEAK, just LISTEN to what they (we) have to say. Let us explain to you. Do not cut us off while speaking. Do not stop us because it is too much for you to hear. JUST LISTEN, that’s really all we ask for. We pretty much already know that you won’t really get it. What we want, is just for someone to listen. All we ever wanted was for someone to hear us out for once.
You should feel honored if someone wants to tell you their experience(s). That alone is a big deal because what that means is that we found enough trust in you. TRUST, something that very few of us give to ANYBODY! Especially when discussing something so severe.
No one can ever TRUTHFULLY say “I would have left after the first time he or she put their hands on me.” Some of the most strong-willed individuals you know can become victims of domestic violence. You never know what goes on behind closed doors.