It’s been several years since I finally left my abuser. In that time, I’ve been able to reflect on the past. Looking back now, there are more red flags and warning signs littering my field of vision than you can imagine. In hindsight, I can see the writing on the wall clear as day.
But at the time, I didn’t see all those big warning signs and waving red flags. I’d like to say I was oblivious to them, because that would make it easier to forgive myself for ignoring them. But the truth is, I think subconsciously I acknowledged that there were issues in my relationship, but I chose to ignore them. It was easier to ignore them. It was easier to stay.
The Devil You Know…
I think at one point, I started telling myself that things could be worse. Some people were going to die alone, so at least I had a partner. I convinced myself having someone to be with, regardless of how awful they were, was better than nothing.
By this time, my abuser had degraded my self esteem down to next to nothing, so I truly believed that no one else would ever want to be with me. He had conditioned me to believed he was my one shot at happiness, so I might as well try to make the best of it. I stayed because I believed that if I left, I might truly be alone for the rest of my life.
Embarrassment and Shame
I had been with my abuser for a long time. My friends and family liked him. We had a long history together that went all the way back to high school. People expected us to be together. I felt external pressured to stay in my relationship in order to keep everyone else happy.
Not only was I afraid to disappoint my friends and family, I was ashamed to admit the reason I wanted to leave the relationship. I was ashamed to admit I needed to leave because I had become a victim. I was embarrassed to say that I had allowed my ex to become abusive, as if this somehow reflected more poorly on me than it did on him.
Also, I was embarrassed because of my profession. I was embarrassed to admit that as a police officer I had become a victim. I felt like a failure. It seemed easier to just stay with my abusive ex than face potential humiliation.
Maybe It’s My Fault…
It sounds cliche, but I started to believe that I deserved the abusive treatment. As I touched on before, and wrote about in another post, the emotional abuse that my ex was subjecting me to had destroyed my self esteem. When he would tell me I didn’t deserve him, I believed him.
Because of that, I believed everything was my fault. When he blamed me for his tempers, I believed him. I believed him when he blamed me for his drinking. When he was angry, I apologized. I took the blame for everything because I believed I deserved the blame. I stayed in my relationship because I didn’t feel like I didn’t deserve any better.
This is a pretty broad topic because I was afraid for a lot of reasons.
I was afraid of the unknown. What would happen after we broke up? How would I tell my family and what would their reaction be? What would happen to my house and my belongings? Could I support myself alone?
I was also afraid for my safety. My abuser was an alcoholic with anger issues. How would he react to my decision? What if he decided to retaliate? What if he burned my house down in the middle of the night out of spite?
Lastly, I was afraid of what people would think of me. I’ve already touched upon the embarrassment and shame I felt surrounding the whole situation, but this played a major role in my thought process. What would people say? What would they think? How would I deal with that?
These fears kept me from leaving my relationship. I was scared to leave.
The Decision To Leave
In order to make the decision to leave, I had to overcome all of these things. I had to overcome the fear and the embarrassment and the shame. I had to put myself before everyone else. It wasn’t a decision I made lightly. And I wont lie to you, it was hard.
I’ll tell you one thing though, it was worth it. Not a day goes by that I’m not thankful I made the decision to leave that relationship. I’m in such a happier and healthier place now than I was then. I’ve regained a lot of my self esteem and I’m proud of the person that I’ve managed to become.
That’s why I’m here, typing to you. If you’ve been reading this feeling like you’re in the same boat, I want you to know there’s hope. I’m here to support you in taking control of your life back from your abuser. You can do this!
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