What was she thinking as he held the gun to her head? Was she thinking of her three children she would leave behind? She had to have been terrified! That’s all I could think of as I read in my local paper about a lady whom had been shot by her mother’s ex-husband. Her mother was killed in the same incident. The daughter lived, but sustained injury. Sadly, this will not only be a physical injury, but an emotional scar which will never leave her.
All too often I read of a domestic dispute turned tragedy. It seems to be more frequent than ever before. It is a travesty in our society that we are plagued with this leprosy of domestic violence. It affects a great many families, leaving behind baskets full of human shreds not unlike those of an office paper shredder. Domestic violence, be it physical, psychological, or emotional seems to be almost accepted as a cultural norm. It happens, and we often overlook it or don’t intervene until it is too late. We see it on television, read about it in the newspaper, and see it on the internet. Because of that, I feel many people have become immune to it. Often those whom have suffered are blamed or scoffed at as part of the problem by others in society.” Why don’t they just leave?”, many people ask. As much as it sounds like a passive answer, it isn’t always that easy.
I lived in a nearly twenty-year long abusive marriage. The abuse was some amalgamation of physical and emotional abuse. I have been choke-slammed against a door, and had an entire gallon of bleach thrown at my head while my children sat nearby in horror. But that wasn’t the worst. He made me feel as if I were less than human; less than nothing. Frequently his threats to kill me were followed by, “No one would even miss you”. There were constant reminders of how “lucky” I was to have him because “No one would ever want a fat-ass like me”. A string of colorful terms of anything but endearment became so commonplace that they didn’t even offend me anymore. I was numb.
So, why didn’t I leave? Because life doesn’t seem as simple as walking out the door when you have no self-worth or self-confidence. When you have no money, nowhere to go, children to think of, and no safety net, walking away is as scary as jumping from a thousand foot tall cliff head first. Not to mention the fact that I was taught to believe two things: 1) I made my bed, and I should lie in it; and 2) It was my job to hold my marriage together or I was a failure as a woman.
No one wanted to get involved. They would listen, but thought my stories were more complaints than cries for help. That is exactly where society fails women every day. We listen to friends talk about overzealous significant others and we try to candy-coat our responses. Life is not a candy store, and every ending won’t be sweet.
It is so important to help women find their voice that has been stolen from them by an abusive partner. Women can become so completely defeated by the hands of an abusive partner that they fear breathing let alone leaving. Will he really follow through with his threats of, “if you leave I’ll kill you”? Will I be able to make it on my own? These thoughts play constantly through an abused woman’s mind like a macabre symphony that will never stop. It isn’t until someone helps her find her inner voice again that she will find the strength to leave.
For me, that came by way of my children. They had endured quite enough evenings of intense fighting and mass chaos. They wanted him, their very own father, out of the house. I knew then that it no longer mattered what my phobias were, I had to dredge up the strength from the abyss of my soul and get him out. I did just that. My home has been nothing but peace since that evening. Our life is normal again, if there is such an entity that can be called normal. More importantly, all my fears were for nothing. I did make it on my own, and he never followed through with any threat.
Unfortunately, it will not work that way for every woman. Some will have a continued war to fight even after there has been a separation and/or divorce. Many women will need protective orders and legal help. But it does get better in time. The most important thing is that they have a strong support system to help them through.
If you are the friend or loved one of an abused woman, support her. Tell her your real feelings about how she is treated instead of telling her it will work itself out. Tell her not to be afraid. Help her find resources to aid her in her escape. Many times abused women are so afraid and confused they don’t even know where to turn. They will need that help. Most of all, let her know that she is a worthy, beautiful being that never deserved any abuse.
If you are an abused woman, do not be afraid. Speak up to someone and ask for help. There are more places and people who will help you than you can ever imagine. Get yourself out of that home before anyone can count you as a statistic. When someone abuses you, don’t make excuses for them, and don’t ever give them a second chance. Remember that it’s never too late to walk away or start over. Every day is a new day full of promise. And each new glorious new day without your abuser keeping you in their shadow is one you will cherish forever.
If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship (no matter the sexual orientation), please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−SAFE (7233) or TTY 1−800−787−3224. For more information on how to help those in an abusive relationship as well as domestic violence hotlines in other countries, please check out The Help Guide.
Tammie Niewedde shares her life with 24, 21, and 16 year old sons. She also has a 2 year old grandson whose energy level reminds her exactly how old she is (40, and she owns that proudly!). In her home, you will find a 120 pound fur factory named Dexter and a few cats whom have decided that she is merely their staff. The root of her love for books, writing, and animals comes from being a child whose only siblings were books and her animals. She is a full-time student, mother, coordinator of all that is chaos, and a hopeless list maker. Most of her writing is creative non-fiction that describes her real life adventures. Her acerbic, biting sense of humor may capture your heart, or it may induce rage. Nonetheless what she writes is true to life. You can often find her hanging out with the kiddos, studying, reading, writing, and making lists…of everything! You can find her on Facebook!