As a child who grew up in a home with physical, verbal, and emotional abuse, I can tell you that any amount of time, whether it be months or years that a child is subjected to abuse, will leave a mark. There will be damage, hurt, and trust issues.
As they grow and mature, an older child or even an adult child may question why their non-abusive parent stayed, and to be brutally honest, no reason the other party gives will feel good enough. It doesn’t feel OK because being abused as a minor and not having the ability to make the choice yourself to leave—it isn’t OK. You lose all your power before you’ve ever had the chance to find it.
I cannot sugarcoat the truth. I can’t pretend it doesn’t sting. I won’t lie and say I can understand that the fear of leaving outweighs the primal instinct to protect your child. I won’t pretend I have any perspective on this, other than my own experience.
However, there is something I feel the need to convey to the ones who left. To the brave mamas (or dads in some cases) who scooped up their children, without a dime in their pocket or any idea how they were going to make it, and chose to save themselves and their family from any more pain at the hands of their abuser—I think you’re brave.
I think you’re brave because you got out alive and you recognized that you and your kids deserve better.
The moment you walked out that door, you made a better life possible.
I think you’re brave because even though you didn’t know how you were going to provide for your kids, you found a way to do it while keeping them safe. And they will thank you for that one day.
I think you’re brave because you broke the chains of control and manipulation your abuser had on you, and the moment you did that, you won.
I think you’re brave because you told the truth. You didn’t cover up the bruises or hide the tears. You didn’t let the lies that no one would believe you sink in anymore.
I think you’re brave because you got help. You reached out of the shadows you were kept in and refused to be silent anymore.
I think you’re brave because you knew it was your spouse or your kids, and you chose right. You put their happiness, well-being, and safety above any conflicted feelings you had for your partner.
I think you’re brave because you gave your children a chance at a childhood where they don’t have to cower in fear, where they don’t have to walk on eggshells, where they don’t have to be the bigger person to a person much bigger than them.
I think you’re brave because you stood up to a giant and watched him fall. You faced the fear, the threats, the lies, the shouts, the names, the hits, the falls, and you got back up and chose to never put yourself in the position to let it happen again.
You took back the power, and I think you’re brave and so will your kids. Keep going and don’t ever look back, because that’s not where you’re going anymore. Every day that you’re not being hurt is a day you get to heal.
Originally published on Red Tricycle