Understanding why women stay

My post today is my response to a blog post entitled Battered Women Syndrome and Why Women Stay in Abusive Relationships.

The worse case scenario is death, and those women at risk sense it when there’s no visible evidence of her danger to others. Other women fear the ongoing vindictive behaviors that will be relentless in trying to destroy her in other ways (finances, parenting, family, her workplace). Dependency is a huge issue when it’s happened over time, and removed avenues for the victim to re-establish independence. The victim typically has impaired health as her body was drained by processing the pain of her soul, and the breaking down of her spirit. The body doesn’t lie. Investment? Absolutely true. There is often no way to pretty the details, and there’s not a second chance for many.

Complicated and simple. Yes. Abuse is always about power and control, no matter which face it wears, or how it’s expressed. Physical violence uses overt bullying to produce fear. Emotional violence can be spoken softly, even with a kind of charming false sweetness or humor, but still leave someone diminished. It’s always about shifting the balance of power in favor of the abusive partner that needs to feel in control of the other.

When I first became acquainted with an online community of women that were survivors of relational abuse, I met women from every walk of life. The need to control and have power over someone was used against a dentist, the dean of a university, a veterinarian, a psychologist/therapist, a university professor, an attorney, an I.T. professional, a nurse, a teacher, and a SAHM on a rather equal opportunity basis. You would be hard pressed to find commonalities with the victims of abuse, other than being abused.

Although the women weren’t alike, their stories of how they were abused were similar, and the impact of it on them was also similar. You can read about those warning signs, one of which is that this kind of man typically intensely pursues in the beginning. The women can be love bombed without being aware that it’s not about him really seeing her and loving her, but quickly securing her. From that point, his attention she mistakes for love becomes slowly interchanged with his behaviors that diminish her, destabilize her, isolate her, and weaken her. Although there’s usually a recognizable cycle, the very unpredictable and inconsistent part of his behaviors work to keep her off kilter, isolated, and in a kind of fog.

Typically the men who abuse are well liked by their neighbors, acquaintances, and co-workers. This means their abused partner is constantly receiving messages about what a great guy he is, which works to create a kind of cognitive dissonance that slides her deeper into the fog. When the police officer who might be called is statistically likely to be abusive at home, when needed education and proper training is still lacking among law enforcement, you’ll continue to see horror stories of officers coming on the scene and either leaving the woman and child unprotected (which emboldens the abuser to behave even worse), or arresting the victim for any reactive behaviors when she was trying to defend herself. This is the current reality, and most women in these situations are aware of it, which means their abusers are also aware and operating with a kind of brazen impunity.

Women who find themselves wanting to leave an abusive relationship need understanding, validation, and practical support that will help provide a path to disentangle the enmeshment in the areas of finances, medical needs, and housing etc. For those women who are afraid and know in their gut that their partner would physically harm or even kill them, there needs to be more truly safe houses available, and much more stringent laws that provide restraining orders that are actually useful. The system as it is doesn’t protect women. When you read about women being murdered by a partner that they left, those women usually had tried to utilize every step offered by the current legal system.

If you wish to understand why an abused woman stays, then you have to be willing to see beyond what you wish to see in that great guy who’s abusing her.

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32 Responses to Understanding why women stay

  1. Well stated. Thanks for further humanizing my thoughts, and thanks for following Straight, No Chaser. Keep up the great writing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Bronze says:

    Yes, that great guy. Those cowards who only bully behind closed doors. It makes you feel crazy when you are the only one who knows who he really is and your view of him is so disparate from everyone elses. It makes you feel alone and they are brazen about it, because they know you will never be believed.

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    • Bronze says:

      The other thing I forgot to add, is these guys are so great, so friendly, so helpful in many cases I have seen (mine included) it is much, much easier to believe she is a liar than to think behind closed doors he is raging, scary maniac or a silent emotional assassin (they seem to flip flop between those two characters). Mine would set me up to look crazy in public. He would verbally berate me behind closed doors and then minutes later in his parents lounge room he would walk over to give me a hug from which I would shrink away after having the most horrific things said to me. His family would see this and would rush over to hug him to compensate for his cold and unloving wife. He would spend a car trip screaming at me and when we reached our destination, I would be emotionally unhinged and he would flip into mr magnanimous and everybody would wonder what he was doing with such a highly strung wife. His silent treatments and threats would unhinge me after 20 years and the marriage counsellor told me to do self soothing exercises, when he refused to look at or speak to me for days, little realising that is how I actually managed to survive for so long and my reserves where already on empty and had been for years. She had us working on ”communication problems”. We didn’t have a communication problem – he could communicate well with everybody in his life except for me – he didn’t want communication, he wanted power. He obfuscated any attempts at real communication with gas lighting, abuse, silence and outright lies. While I was reading relationship books, changing myself, twisting myself in a pretzel to be better understood and accepted, he was ensuring that any attempts of mine were met with abuse. The nicer I was, the more loving I behaved in response to his abuse in the hope those relationship books were right and all I had to do was act loving and kind and he would give it back, ha!! Well he took in all my efforts to forgive and love him more and they actually made him disrespect me more. He was much more satisfied if he managed to drag me down to his level. Real communication would have meant he had to hear what I was saying and take responsibility for his actions. He would have to see my pain and that was never going to happen. Yes it is much easier to believe women are liars than to believe these great guys wage war overtly and covertly on those closest to him, behind closed doors. Usually, by the end of the marriage she is acting crazy and unhinged (and yes angry at times) from years of cognitive dissonance and abuse that is appears he has been a long suffering husband who couldn’t hang on any longer. It’s diabolical and now I’ve managed to get him out – it took years during which time he threatened to burn the house down and broke in to visit verbal tirades upon me – there is no way another man is ever living in my home. And I have to watch him re-inventing himself yet again as the prodigal son and brother returning from purgatory(his marriage). One that I ended for self preservation. (I had to add, lol, and it turned into an essay – sorry, I couldn’t stop once I started!!). Great post,BTW, PJ’s.

      Liked by 1 person

      • lonelywife07 says:

        You said “She had us working on ”communication problems”. We didn’t have a communication problem – he could communicate well with everybody in his life except for me – he didn’t want communication, he wanted power.”
        Good golly! YES!! That was true with our counselor also! Richard wanted us to learn to “communicate” this, after I told him he’s passive aggressive!
        PAs don’t communicate….that means opening up, being “open” with your spouse, vulnerable! Sheesh! Where do these therapists get their degrees from these days…the Willy Wonka factory??

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    • newshoes123 says:

      Intimidation and bullying is a big thing for mine, or smashing things in front of my face or slamming doors or putting his fist through the walls and just generally creating an environment of tension. He told me once, “well but I don’t hit you”… perhaps, but it’s still physical violence isn’t.

      the therapist once told me that it’s never just verbal abuse or physical abuse, usually the both are intertwined. Certain women will have more physical (beatings) and some more verbal but they are both present.

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      • Bronze says:

        Mine also believe because he didn’t punch me and leave me in a bloody pulp like his father did to his mother, that meant he wan’t abusive. But yes, like yours, he created an atmosphere of tension and intimidation. As Lundy Bancroft says – they don’t want to have to hit us to control us – they do only what is necessary to keep us under control. If that means he only has to push or throw us or hold us against walls or punch walls, smash things, scream in our face etc. then that is what he does. Interestingly, they usually never break anything valuable to THEM. It either has no value or is something special to us (Mine did this). They also never clean up their messes. They walk out and who gets down on hands and knees and cleans it up? (another form of degradation and control). Usually those huge blow outs are enough to keep us under control with him just making the atmosphere terrible and having that constant fear he is going to blow. We constantly pander to stop in blowing. Also, these blow outs are seen as fights between two people – they are not. The other part of abuse is him coming back and wanting a hug – mine would get angry if I didn’t hug him quickly enough afterward and keep my mouth shut about it. He was never held accountable and you try to hold them accountable – another blow out. Lundy also said – they are NEVER out of control even when they are physically abusing – they manage to punch in places nobody can see etc. Mine punched a door down once when I asked him for a divorce – the next day life went on as normal and it was not spoken of again. Of course, the inference was, if I continue on with that train he will escalate. It is never just one type of abuse, I agree. They use different tactics so you cannot get a handle on the situation. And of course, the underlying emotional abuse that erodes who you are over time.

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        • Newshoes says:

          Yes mine wanted that physical affection after… As if that would erase anything… At first I gave in and after just gave in to keep the peace, then he d want sex, I felt dead and empty afterwards. I hate those blow ups and what follows.

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          • Bronze says:

            Lundy Bancroft wrote a great article on sex after abuse, which is really degrading (for me it was anyway) in which he states that sex after abuse is also abuse. Sometimes I would have sex to get him out of a bad mood and try and stop him from blowing up any further. I guess it was a manipulative technique on my part but in some cases when my kids were a lot smaller and he would get overly mad at them, I did it in a way to protect them. I didn’t like trying to have sex with someone who was clearly simmering, scowling and ready to blow but in some cases it was my only option (if we were stuck on holidays in a unit etc) Here is a link to it: http://lundybancroft.blogspot.com.au/2014/02/he-wants-sex-at-wrong-times.html

            Liked by 1 person

  3. lonelywife07 says:

    “Typically the men who abuse are well liked by their neighbors, acquaintances, and co-workers. This means their abused partner is constantly receiving messages about what a great guy he is, which works to create a kind of cognitive dissonance that slides her deeper into the fog.”

    Good Heavens!! THIS is so accurate to my life, it’s scary.. I was just told this on Sunday, when explaining to a friend and her newly married daughter, whose husband is VERY verbally abusive, that abuse in ANY form is wrong!
    I was telling them about my life, with PA Man, and they both said, “But he’s sooo nice!!” And I agreed with them…he IS a nice guy….in public…and he is at home also….but he’s STILL abusive when he ignores me when he’s angry, refuses to be emotionally open, and stalks off like a 2 yr old when I’m trying to have a conversation with him, which happened tonight BTW, and he missed dinner with his family as a consequence, oh well, too bad!

    Bronze, if you don’t mind…I might just copy and paste your response on my blog…yes, it’s THAT good!! 😀

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    • Bronze says:

      Fine by me! But that quote you just used above me, is actually from PJ.

      Like

    • Exodus says:

      How many times have we watched the news about a man who turned out to be a serial killer and all the friends and neighbors are just stunned that such a nice man was burying corpses in his back yard. Usually these types of men are humanitarians, teachers, religious zealots, charming, compassionate. I have a neighbor that tried to murder his wife a few years ago. It was a brutal attempt and the woman survived by a miracle. They didn’t live here then but he moved in here after he got out of prison ( a one year term with probation) and one of things I noticed about the man was that he always made sure that his two kids/teens played in the front yard when they came to visit him. He has a HUGE back yard and a tiny front yard but he would never let them play softball or soccer in the back. It finally dawned on me that the reason he did that was because he wanted all the neighbors to see how happy and playful they all were together. The man also carried his HUGE Bible under his arm all the time and after he purchased his second wife from the Philippines he went to church every Sunday for three months. He uses props ( kids, pets, church, etc..) to create his perfect image. He had a dog in the beginning but then after a year, the dog disappeared. He plastered his cars with his Church bumper stickers and had his new wife walk around the neighborhood trying to recruit us to their Church. Another creepy thing he did was create an unsecured wifi account for neighbors to use if they wanted to.

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      • Bronze says:

        I would love to see an exploration of the concept ”the good man within”. I come across this concept time and time again, of a ”good man” inside who just happens to do nasty things, for a variety of reasons. He is tired, has adhd, is stresses, hungry etc. I gave my husband a different excuse everytime. He used the ”I was hungry or needed a cigarette” excuse for YEARS. I begged him to go to the Dr early in our marriage for his anger. He told the Dr he gets angry when he is hungry – of course the Dr said ”so eat!!”. I felt let down. But I hear women say “‘I know he is a good man, I have seen it, he has a good heart, he has a good soul” and variations on that theme and they are all waiting for when he turns back into that ”good man” they used to know (usually a very short time at the beginning of the relationship compared to the actual length of the marriage). When he isn’t stressed, hungry, tired, sad, depressed etc.. I have never heard a woman yet until after she has left say “That good man doesn’t exist – those first months he was acting to suck me in and all the time he has been nice since were to manipulate me when he knew I was wavering”. It is my natural inclination to see all humans as aspiring to kindness and possessing some core of good and this worked heavily against me. I now believe some humans just don’t care and they manipulate from the cradle to the grave. They don’t have a ”good man within”. Believing that makes me fell guilty and sad but it keeps me safe when it comes to my ex.

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  4. justanothermindgame says:

    This is very true. I have a close friend who was beaten up by her boyfriend outside a hotel. And this was told to me by the maids – who just stood and watched instead of trying to stop the violence. I think its very vital that we be there – without moral judgement – for any victim of violence – whether child or adult.

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    • Bronze says:

      I belong to a closed forum with strict protocol on entry for victims of emotional, verbal and/or physical abuse. They are currently either in the situation, trying to leave the situation or have left the situation and are trying to deal with the aftermath(me). There are over 1000 women (3 men). The stories they tell daily are horrific. I would estimate that less than 10% have called the police and of those maybe 30% are taken seriously and have charges laid and a DVO issued. Now, bear in mind, this group is not easy to find and you really have to be invited and go through a process to get in. I cannot remember how I found out about it but it was a circuitous route. You can’t see it, unless you are in it. So taking that into account – just from this one small group there are at least 900 men walking around in public who rape, beat, kick, punch, shout obscene language at, verbally abuse, push, throw, break things, spit on, deny money, deny schooling, deny freedom, drive dangerously with them in the car and emotionally abuse and they all without fail are seen as nice guys outside of their homes. They don’t mete this treatment out to anybody else although, I think there is a small percentage of serious psychopaths who are also criminals and violent elsewhere. The silent treatment/stone walling/ignoring is regularly talked about as severely damaging to the self esteem. Where there is any abuse there is always emotional abuse and it is this breaking down of the person into someone of no consequence or importance. Somebody to be ignored and dismissed, whose feelings don’t matter, whose life goals and dreams aren’t important that is one reason that women find it so hard to leave. Abusers also gas light which sets up a seriously warped dynamic where a woman constantly doubts her reality. Did he really mean it? Am I over reacting like he says? Is it all in my head like he says? Are my feelings wrong like he tells me? Typical PA stuff. They are waiting for his intermittent positive reinforcement where he shows that she matters to him at all. The day he will finally see her love and her value and reciprocate. And some invariably wait too long. And of course, leaving a physical abuser is the most dangerous time of a womans marriage.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. newshoes123 says:

    I remember feeling like I had no other options but to stay and make it work. That was extremely painful and confusing. And I hated myself for feeling weak like that. The fact that people were telling me I had to leave, needed to leave didn’t make a difference at that point. They had no solutions for me but to say those words: LEAVE. Easier said than done especially when you have children to consider, pets, mortgages, etc… the daily routine just sets in and the thought of leaving escapes your mind until another abusive event occurs. Then you are reminded that you are less than nothing for these pa people. I even convinced myself that I was a strong woman for staying with such a man, and I told him that too!! I had convinced myself that it would be harder to stay than to leave and I stayed and stayed and over stayed… Too many years of hurt and pain and anguish and health issues. No matter how many reasons I gave myself to leave him, until I was truly ready and I committed to myself to leave with the help of a therapist and some friends, I couldn’t stomach it. I couldn’t move one way or another until I felt strong enough to do it finally after all this time. If it were not for the encouragement of friends and that therapist, I was nothing but ambivalent and beaten.
    People need to remind themselves that unless they have lived this type of relationship, they cannot know what to tell the other person, but they can offer their support and they can offer a shoulder to cry on or an ear for listening. One friend said to me: “you’ll never leave him” and I got mad, I told him he wasn’t allowed to tell me that because he had no idea. At the time, he didn’t know that I was mentally preparing myself to leave, that I was “convincing” myself that it was the best option and allowing myself to get mad, sad and angry and that’s what got me to leave him once and for all. I spoke to that friend after, and he apologized, saying he had no right because he didn’t know.
    Women who leave their abusers are extremely brave, it takes guts, sweat, tears and sometimes one last hit before you make the move. I don’t see myself as brave, I just see myself as lucky to have had such an amazing support group and therapist, without them, I wouldn’t have been brave.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Bronze says:

      Yes, it takes a long time and it is confusing and difficult. I survived in an awful, awful situation. I did my day, cried in the shower every night and was completely lost. If I mentioned divorce – abuse. Luckily (i didn’t fee lucky at the time but i do now) a situation escalated and he head butted me, I left home drove to a girlfriends house, she drank wine with me and I went back and told him to go. He was already going shopping, moving furniture had told my kids I was never coming back, told my son he had to take my girls to school from now on and fully expected that I was going to move out and slink off. He was HAPPY and making plans for a future where I just disappeared after being the only carer for my children forever. I was devastated over my marriage ending and he was on a grand adventure. For the first time in my life, I stood up and told him that I would be having the kids and staying in the house and told him to do that I would fight him to the death and use all our resources. He believed me – and moved out. Of course, I then had 2.5 years of him coming and going, threatening to burn the house down, breaking in, going to marriage counselling, him going to anger management, him ”changing”. It was a brutal 2.5 yrs of mind games by him and I honestly thought I’d lose my mind, My grades were dropping, I was neglecting my kids, and trying to hang on to a marriage he was boomeranging in and out of with abuse and then promises while I took all the responsibility for house, mortgage, children had me on my knees. I got lucky again with a breast cancer scare while he was on holidays. His text to me when he found out was cruel & almost enough. His next text threatening me with silent treatment was it. I knew I couldn’t go through another one and stay sane. NObody could understand why I stayed and then they couldn’t understand why I kept trying. It is a peculiar mindset that they foster from day one of marriage and until you’ve been out of it for quite a while and can look back, even you, while your in it cannot see just how bizarre the whole paradigm is. Now, my fog has cleared I am aghast at what I accepted and how long I tried to love that man, who showed me continually that I was less than shit on his shoes. Truly bizarre. Also abusers have a knack of picking loyal, loving woman who value marriage and family. I also thought I was strong for enduring my marriage. I thought I was standing for something noble because of course, my fantasy of what my marriage would one day be through my strength and love, would make it all worth while in the end and we would live happily presiding over our extended family as we grew older, with this loving man by my side. Also, I agree we tend to see each incident separately, the thought of leaving going into the back ground until the next one. We fail to see an overriding pattern that is intertwined throughout everyday. Even when he isn’t blowing he is still subtly abusing by his disregard and stone walling.

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      • Newshoes says:

        Agreed, lived quite a few of those things myself. Still very thick in the whole process of leaving but I see even now when he s still able to fog up my brain and hurt my heart, that it’s the only option. All the heartache I m experiencing will be worth it in the end. I’m glad you made it Bronze! That took everything you had and that was brave.

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      • GainingStrength says:

        “Now, my fog has cleared I am aghast at what I accepted and how long I tried to love that man, who showed me continually that I was less than shit on his shoes. Truly bizarre. Also abusers have a knack of picking loyal, loving woman who value marriage and family. I also thought I was strong for enduring my marriage. I thought I was standing for something noble because of course, my fantasy of what my marriage would one day be through my strength and love, would make it all worth while in the end and we would live happily presiding over our extended family as we grew older, with this loving man by my side. Also, I agree we tend to see each incident separately, the thought of leaving going into the back ground until the next one. We fail to see an overriding pattern that is intertwined throughout everyday.”

        This hurt to read because I saw myself in your words. I stayed also because he had me believing all the marriage problems, heck all his problems, were my fault and mine to fix. I believed if I only tried, said, etc. that miraculously my marriage would transform into the one I thought I had when I married him.

        Bronze you are out and I would like to ask how long it takes before the emotional pain starts to lessen. Before I couldn’t understand triggers or PTSD or if they were just words, I now understand and it is so painful. I’m on my way out and I need to grasp at a little hope that this terrible emotional pain will lessen over time. I need to breathe freely without that tightness in the chest that anxiety brings.

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        • Bronze says:

          I had a long awful separation where ”we” tried to ”save” the marriage. Marriage counselling, anger management(him), he wanted me on anti-depressants(I did), I tried to put boundaries in place around verbal abuse etc.(didn’t work), he became much more effective at silent treatment by simply hanging up the phone and not answering when he didn’t want to hear what I had to say(weeks at a time), he became more emotionally abusive and manipulative and remained selfish(using me as a babysitter), He then wanted divorce and I accepted only to have him come back declare I was the love of his life and formulate a long list which he spent days going over with me of all the things HE needed and wanted (all selfish things – nothing to do with the relationship), everytime I had anything to say about my needs he would run out of the house into the backyard (I would thank him for not driving away!!) that is how beaten down I became. When I had a breast cancer scare (he was on holidays – one of his NEEDS) and he didn’t care, I actually asked him for a ”nice” text to show me he cared (as one of the things he required was for me to ask not expect him to mindread) – he responded by telling me nobody would ever love me or would be likely I would ever be missed. I APOLOGISED for asking for a nice text!! He then threatened me with no communication if I wasn’t honest with my emotions. You see he wanted honesty from me but would then use that to abuse me. I realised I couldn’t survive anymore cruelty and said I’m done. Over the next 4-5 months he continued to text to be ”friendly” – during separation he had become irate at the thought of me not continuing to be friendly and communicate with him if we split. I answered all of his texts exactly the way I had been spoken to for 20 years( I finally got angry!!). He got the message. So for 4-5 months after that final I’m Done, which was after 2.5 years of separation, I had severe anxiety and nightmares, I would wake up shaking, crying and would basically rock and hug myself and just say over and over ”It’s going to be ok, You don’t have to see him, you don’t have to speak to him, you’ll be ok”. I cried, howled. I got stopped twice by the same policeman, on the same road in one month for speeding and both times I was bawling. I cried all the way to uni, I cried all the way home. I was still answering his texts with long lists of his abuses which I was never allowed to talk about with him, whenever he texted. I started writing out all the incidents I could remember small and large and when I got to ten pages I stopped and couldn’t go on. THEN I got angry – the rage of injustice, injustice over how hard I tried, the injustice over all that time wasted, the injustice of how I allowed myself to be treated etc it went on for months – during all this time I appeared normal – I was in fourth year university – doing hospital and community placement. I was also drinking alot(don’t do that). I managed to keep it all together. I graduated with a faculty commendation for academic excellence. My son got into Uni. The first xmas we had without him – at the 4 month mark was when I started to realise I would be ok – it was the most calm, relaxing xmas we had ever had and the kids agreed. They have refused to spend any part of xmas day with him since or in the future. I still have PTSD – triggered by his car make, his work uniform and his voice during mediation the other day. I shake when he is parked outside picking up the kids – I recover quickly. My recovery times are shorter and my good days are longer and longer. I believe I had a delayed healing due to having to put a lot on the back burner and deal with uni. He still won’t divorce or separate assets! I no longer communicate with him in any way. The sooner you can cut all ties – the better. I am 2 years post “I’m done” and have started putting all my resources into myself and forcing myself to not think about him or the things he has done. Letting that anger go and to leave that behind felt almost like I was letting HIM off the hook, so I held on longer than I should have. I have just received and Honours scholarship(YAY) and will probably use that money to get a lawyer and force him to separate assets (last thing I want to spend it on), I am starting a small business, I am doing Honours reasearch, I have finally started exercising again – I was a big exerciser during marriage and stopped during the last 2 years and put on 10 kgs(22lbs), I have started meditating again which I also did during marriage (I believe this actually helped me during my marriage), My second child is on track to get into uni. My youngest I believe has suffered depression, right along with me and she stopped hugging me and speaking to me the way her father used to speak to me. We have had a lot of discussions, I never withdrew my love, I wasn’t always perfect , I lost it at times but she is now also coming out of it, has started to not go to her fathers by her own choice (I make her tell him), she is becoming affectionate and I have spoken to my girls about boundaries with boys and also about emotional and verbal abuse (physical abuse is easy to spot). Emotional abuse is how they get you to stay and I believe if it has gone on for decades is almost like an imprint. I believe during emotional and verbal abuse, those years of flight and fight, map neuron paths in our brains that become kind of like train tracks of thoughts you can’t get off, cause depression and we need to rewire our brains. (I love neuroscience) I read a lot about brains and brain health and take supplements to protect my brain. I believe I did almost everything wrong during my separation and subsequent healing. In hindsight – here is how I would have handled it:-
          1. Once out, stay out – don’t allow any kind of reconciliation talk – those 2.5 years for me were worse than the 18 years before it. I was already on the edge of sanity and his mindgames almost made me come unhinged. It kept me in the fog and I was getting no advantage of being in a marriage
          2. Don’t text, send emails etc. of hurt or rage to document your abuses to your husband – he didn’t care in the marriage, he cares even less now – you won’t get the responses you want and in the end you will have dragged yourself to his level. (Take the high road) – write it out, scream it out – don’t send it out!!
          3. Keep exercising or start. Don’t use alcohol or food to soothe yourself.
          4. Start meditating – I bought some meditations specifically for Narcississtic abuse and I also use different ones from youtube – they are free and listen to them in bed – they put me straight to sleep. I’ve started experimenting with binaural beats but my jury is still out on this.
          5. Go as no contact as you can – also I will never be friends with my ex – he is not the kind of person I would choose for a friend and I will no longer protect his image or pretend he is anything other than what he is – this is me taking my power back. I don’t feel guilt about that – but I had to work on it.
          6. I have studied and read up on everything about abuse, narcissists etc. and I can see clearly why I was so easily manipulated and abused and also how my compliance and lack of boundaries early on allowed a huge power differential that once started and entrenched was impossible to reverse and only continued to escalate. Once they get used to treating you that way, they are very adverse to giving up that control. Our marriage became untenable when I finally started standing up for myself.
          6. Do fun things with friends and your children. I never stopped doing that. I have talked to all my children about abuse and also explained certain things – In hindsight – I probably would not have shared so much. However, I now name things for what they are – my kids know every kind of manipulation technique there is and can name it!
          7. Give up reliving the abuse, revenge thoughts(once they come) sooner – it keeps you stuck and you’re only hurting yourself. Try not to keep ripping off the scab. I won’t forgive- that requires him to be sorry but I have accepted it for what it was. Lay it down, don’t carry it around and use whatever method makes sense to you.
          8. Don’t beat yourself up on days you are over emotional, act in ways against your core person or snap at your kids. Apologise, make amends and move on. We’ve spent years being guilty over every feeling of anger, hurt, annoyance etc. and being punished for it. It’s going to come out!! You are not defective. Nobody is perfect – although we all sure tried to be!

          Believe me when I say – time makes a difference and you will get through it. There are days when I have thoughts of ”thanks” or at least acknowledgment that what I have been through has made me more empathetic, stronger and almost unable to be manipulated ever again. I believe I am a nicer person now. Less negative. I’m more relaxed in my home – almost too relaxed. That feeling is PRICELESS!! I can see a future for myself very different then the one I had while married. That dream was never going to come true. I have a chance to be the captain of my own ship. I am thankful I was born in a country with a safety net – I couldn’t have left my marriage without it being a student and single mum. By the time child support runs out – I hope to have a business that makes enough for me to live on. I don’t want things, I want experiences and over the next couple of years I will be downsizing in anticipation of my single life without kids. Bit by bit, step by step it gets better, the fog clears, you will see a better future (mine to me looks like me living simply and everything I earn going into travel – first stop – The Camino with a backpack on my back) I will probably be 50 by then. I’m also immature enough to have revenge thoughts and have private chuckles at how I imagine my ex and his gf will deteriorate, while I get better and better (bitchy and immature, lol) but it does give me a laugh and keeps me looking after myself and moving forward (hey, whatever works, right?). Living well is the best revenge. I have personally accomplished more in the last 2 years then I did in 18 years in that marriage. Life goes on. IT GETS BETTER! Just keep moving forward. Take Care and Good luck. (soz so long – I almost wrote a thesis!!) 🙂

          Liked by 2 people

          • Seeing the Light says:

            Bronze, thank you SO much for this! This is amazing counsel! Thank you for sharing your story.

            Like

          • GainingStrength says:

            Thank you Bronze. I know it won’t be easy and take time, but you have helped soothe some of my worries. I’m praying that once all this stuff is over I will have a different outlook on my future. Hopefully the fears, worries, doubts and second guessing will shrink to manageable. Here’s how I stack up with your hindsight:

            1) Not in this lifetime.
            2) You are so right, nothing will ever change him except himself.
            3) Hmmmm…keep telling myself to do this. Okay I will start…tomorrow! 😀
            4) Meditation sounds good. I’ll look into this, maybe it’ll help me sleep better.
            5) So far so good at not responding to the emails. He hasn’t called…yet.
            6) I quit reading about the abuse, it was painful to read. I will start again, just so I don’t end up with another one!
            6) I have no friends and my kids are grown and married and busy. As soon as I move I’m going to push myself to make friends. Maybe without his negative input I will feel like I can make friends.
            7) I purposely stay away from the revenge thoughts (Already had them years and years ago, some were quite inventive and some were quite brutal!) I am trying to forgive him for my well being. I can’t do it yet, but I hope I will be able to in the future. I will not forget though.
            8) Ah, this one is a tough one. I need to reprogram my brain like you said.

            Thank you again for your response to my question. You and the other ladies are such a blessing. It does help to know you are not alone and there are others that understand what these abusers do to the mind and well being of their spouses. Congratulations of your scholarship, too bad you have to spend it on a divorce.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Exodus says:

            Bronze, The Camino! Me too! I’m definitely doing to do it and I’ll be 54/55. I know an elderly couple that has done the Camino every year for many years. The husband rides a bike and the wife hikes and then they meet up at the end. They are probably 70 plus years old now.
            Maybe we’ll meet on the trail 😀

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        • Newshoes says:

          I can attest that it takes a long time. I still suffer from it, especially since I’m still going through all that process. The therapist indicates that once the dust settles i ll be able to really focus on me and work through all my issues, nightmares, PTSD etc. looking forward to it just to get peace and quiet in my own mind.

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  6. I have a friend who is in a terrible relationship, including having very little money. I’ve helped her from time to time and am ready to do more financially for her. However, I think she probably feels that she already “owes” me and I don’t want to exacerbate that feeling. Any suggestions for ways to support her in addition to my daily emotional support and the occasional grocery-store gift card?

    Like

    • Exodus says:

      Married, I think the best gift is one that helps a person to become independent and self reliant. It’s wonderful that you want to help your friend but be careful and ask yourself really help or just enabling her to tolerate her horrible circumstances. I know it’s so hard to watch others suffer but we must realize that pain and suffering serves us in letting us know that we need to change our condition. I hate to see friendships fill with resentment over money so just be clear that you only give what you can afford to give away and that she does not owe you anything. If she won the lottery tomorrow, would you feel that she should pay you back? How would you feel if she didn’t? These are questions I always ask myself before I help someone because I’m a codependent sucker for everyone’s plight ( except my own 😦 ) Only give what you can give freely without any expectations.

      I don’t know what your friend’s situation is but just taking her places where she can meet other people who might be able to open doors of opportunity is one way of giving back. Anything you can do to keep her self confidence up, to help her build strong friendships and stay mentally, emotionally and physically healthy is wonderful. Once upon a time a friend and I had dinner once a week on Wednesdays. I looked forward to that and it meant the world to me.

      I wish so much that I had someone to talk to about my circumstances. I wish I had family or friends that I could contact for help but I don’t have anyone. It would be so nice to have someone help me search for jobs, help me relocate and pack and it would be nice to know that I had someone in the world that cared about me. I need money too but I would only want someone’s money to go toward putting me in a better place. It’s so hard for me right now trying to save for two months rent, utility hookups, moving truck, moving supplies, etc…I had to buy an outfit for interviews and that cost me a bundle as well. Uggh, it’s so easy to feel buried alive under the weight of these challenges but when I think of the alternative, I dig myself out of that mindset rather quickly!

      I’m going to set up an Ebay and/or Etsy store. Maybe that is something your friend could do for herself that provide income, self esteem, and independence and perhaps you could partner with her or help her get set up. I’m going to open my checking account today for my online stores. Maybe you could help her get supplies she would need to set up her store or maybe a start-up deposit into her checking account.

      Like

      • WritesinPJ's says:

        “I think the best gift is one that helps a person to become independent and self reliant.”

        Sorry I’m so slow to respond to anyone, but I caught whatever bug is going around. Just wanted to say that I agree with Exodus here.
        Connections you can share? Confidence you can build? A skill you can teach? I have friends that could help me become more computer/technology savvy, but they live far away. I need practical help and confidence building most of all. It might take baby steps for your friend. If she’s like me, it will be three steps forward and two back, but oh how I hang on to that gained step.

        Like

        • Exodus says:

          Hope you feel better PJ’s! Never under-estimate the small gain. Any progress we make can be exponentially increased by others who care when we put ourselves out there. It’s really difficult for me to respond to offers of any type and you can’t imagine the self talk I must engage in , in order to do anything with anyone.

          Yes, the computer skills…..oh boy PJ’s, I’m so so unskilled when it comes to so many programs. I haven’t had any on the job training – ever! I’m self taught and I only taught myself what I needed to know for my business. The other day I was learning how to do a mail merge because it was one of the job requirements that I had to have. Didn’t need a college degree but I needed to know how to do that mail merge! The county extension office ( or parks and rec) may have a few classes in your area. A few years ago I took a ballroom dance class through them and ended up with a 90 year old very charming man. I should have dumped Norman then and married this man because most likely he would have passed by now and I would be a millionaire today and I could send my personal jet out to pick you up.
          Guess what PJ’s…..I discovered black mold in my house. Yesseree! Is there anymore shit the universe needs to dump on me right now? My entire kitchen wall has to be removed and replaced, all the hvac duct work has to be replaced ( there’s black mold on the registers) in the dining room. Do you know anything about this? I’m really panicked and sick about this. My insurance will NOT cover it. They just sent me the exclusion update last month. Lovely. I’ll be so glad to get out of this hot humid hurricane good fer nothin zone!!!

          Like

  7. Reblogged this on Abuse ends when you love yourself and commented:
    What a great response to that ignorant question “Why doesn’t she just leave?”

    Like

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