October is a month where we bring awareness to many issues. One of those issues is domestic abuse. When you think of domestic abuse, what do you think of? Bruises? Broken bones? Black eyes? While these are all awful, terrible aspects of domestic abuse, they’re not the only hits victims of domestic abuse take.
There is a side to domestic abuse that is harder to spot, even for the victim. Experts often say that the psychological bruises of abuse will be there long after the physical bruises are gone. Why?
Control. Through emotion, through mental manipulation, through scare tactics, and yes, through violence, abusers are gaining control over their victim but this is not always displayed in acts of violence, yet it is still abuse, and it is still damaging.
I should know. I was a victim of domestic abuse.
I feel awful for admitting what I’m going to say next, because I know there are women who end up in the hospital or worse, but there were times I wished he would hit me. Then maybe people would understand why I was so scared of him. Maybe they’d be able to see what I was going through. Maybe I could get some help. And maybe I’d understand why I was so scared of him and actually seek help. Maybe he’d understand what he was doing to me. But he never hit me. He just continued to manipulate and twist reality to control me.
The worst part was, it was years before I realized what he was doing. It wasn’t until we were getting divorced that I finally started to openly admit bits and pieces of what he’d say or do to me. When it was finally being said out loud, I realized that it wasn’t okay.
“Just stand up to him!” people would say. I couldn’t. At first I couldn’t figure out why. It took almost a year for me to fully understand why it was so difficult for me. And even longer to be able to stand up to him without shaking like crazy.
It’s hard to understand why people put up with an abuser until you’ve been through it and I thank God for those who will never have to experience it. But please remember that if you haven’t been through it and know someone who has, there is no possible way to fully understand what that person is going through. Please be patient with them and supportive of them.
If you are someone who has experienced this terrifying reality, please be patient with your loved ones. They are simply trying to help in the best way they know how. Remember how grateful you are that they haven’t had to experience it. Also remember that those loved ones can’t truly help you and you need to find help elsewhere.
Lastly, know you’re not alone. There’s nothing wrong with you. There is something wrong with your absuser. It’s not okay to treat another human being that way. Period.