I don't know why you stay with him...
I wouldn't stand for that...
If I was treated in that way, I would leave, no matter what.
How many times have you heard those words?
How many times have you said them yourself?
I have been guilty of saying it myself, more than once. In fact, as recently as in the past week I have said something along those lines.
I was in a horribly abusive relationship. It was nasty and poisonous and dangerous and painful. I think the one major regret of my life will always be that I did not just get up and run as soon as I knew I was pregnant. I firmly believe that my child would not have been born prematurely if I had not had such a stressful and traumatic time throughout my pregnancy. I knew then, and I still know now, that I should have left and never looked back.
I blame myself. For all of it.
And because I still blame myself, I have a tendency to blame other victims too. I have a tendency towards thinking, you should have left. You should leave. You shouldn't put up with it. Especially where there are children involved, there's a voice in my head screaming, can't you see how bad this is for your children? It's fine to have no respect for yourself, but your children should come first!
That's really hard for me to admit, because I know that I should have more compassion.
Having lived through the part where your abuser is so in control of you, he dictates how you wash, what you eat, who you speak to, when you sleep - I should know that the people who "choose" to stay in that situation aren't really making much of a choice. They don't believe there is a choice to be made. I certainly didn't.
When I was pregnant, someone in the healthcare profession told me a story about a family. She told me she had only ever tried once to have a baby taken into care. She said the mother was so cowed and controlled by her partner, that if he told her to take the baby outside and lay it in the snow, she would. At the time I thought she was exaggerating in order to make a point to me, but now... now I think I know she was telling the truth. And it sends a shiver through me. There but for the grace of God...
I want to go, but there's nowhere to run to.
If I tell, nobody will believe me.
I'm not good enough to look after these children without his help.
I am worthless; I need her to survive.
If I say anything, the abuse will just get worse.
I deserve this; I'm a bad person.
I know it's hard to look at a person, male or female, in an abusive relationship and not blame them for staying in it.
I know that when you see someone with a hand mark on their face, it's not easy to see why they'd stay around for the next blow.
Until you've been in that situation - even when you have been in that situation - it's often very hard to understand the vice-like grip an abuser can have on their victim.
But if we don't all (me included, definitely me included) make a concerted effort to understand and help victims of abuse - all victims of abuse, even those where the lines are a little blurred, and "she gives as good as she gets when she's drunk" and "he provokes her by causing an argument" then what chance will anyone have?
There but for the grace of God.
You might think you'd be straight out of the door if it happened to you, but how do you know until it does?