Whenever I write posts about my life with the ex, at least one person comments saying that if they had been in that situation, they would have left.
I wrote a post the other day about victim blaming, and how we all need to make an effort not to do it. I thought it might be useful to illustrate the situation a little more clearly.
Here's an example.
You are in an abusive relationship. You know it is an abusive relationship, but only some of the time. Your partner is mean and nasty to you, plays mind games with you, sleeps around behind your back (or even in front of your face). But he also has a hold over you, and manages to at least half convince you that it's your fault. You've been so mean to him in the past, he's just trying to recover from it. He's not playing games, you are. You really have been horrid to him. He has been so hurt and upset by your behaviour that he felt driven into another woman's arms.
Do you leave?
What if you are pregnant, for the first time, with his child? You're not sure who of you is correct. Are you really a nasty, vindictive and manipulative bitch? Your hormones have been all over the place lately, and you have had a fairly short temper. If you leave, you will be taking his unborn child away from him when you might just be imagining all of his ill treatment. He says you are only threatening to leave to hurt him; you know how much he loves you, how much he loves this baby and wants you all to be a family. You just need to try harder.
How about now? Do you leave now?
You are petrified of having this baby on your own. You've precious little experience with babies or children. He has several children; he clearly knows what he is doing. You can't even be trusted to wash yourself without his guidance, and your financial situation is a joke. You need his help and support; practically, financially and emotionally. If you can just figure out how to be who he wants you to be, who you were when you first got together, before you changed, everything will be fine.
Do you stick around and try to work things out for the sake of the baby?
He has several children living with him; their mother is nowhere to be found. The children love you; they are very attached to you, and really excited to meet their new brother or sister. If you don't cook their tea, one of them has to do it, and the eldest is only 14. He shouldn't be having to cook tea every night. Their father can be a bit of a nightmare at times, but his heart is in the right place.
If you leave, who will look after the children? Who will talk their father down when he's in a rage, with a shoe or a pool cue in his hand?
You've been there several months now. He's thrown you out occasionally, when your mood swings got too much for him to bear. He loves you so much, it hurts him when you behave that way. You're a bit rubbish at being maternal and caring, but you don't need to worry because he will help you when the baby comes. He will be there. He points out other mothers in the street, 10 years younger than you, saying "look, it's piss easy. If she can do it then you'll be fine."
You have no money.
A baby due in a few weeks.
Children who rely on you for everything from clean pants to pictures to colour in.
A man who tells you there is nothing on this earth that will keep him from being at the birth of his child.
No self esteem
Do you leave?
Where will you go?
Who will look after you?
You're convinced you can't take care of yourself; he even has to do your shopping for you.
Do you leave?
Can you honestly say that if you were in that position, you would leave?
Here's his four year old, wandering up to you wearing nothing but a pair of back-to-front pants, carrying a piece of paper. It's a drawing of you with her and her dad, and the new baby in your tummy. She hands you the picture, and kisses your belly.