I have read too many articles of abused women, tortured children, men killing men, women killing men, mothers killing their children and more. Then I hear of a child killing a child and everyone says, “My God, how could a child do that?” Do we really wonder why or should it be why not!
Tonight I looked at a paper my son wrote when he was only in first grade. I had been separated from my abusive husband for less than 6 months when my son had to write what he was dreaming about, sounded like a nice assignment for a young child, but not mine. I was sick to my stomach when the school called me in to review this paper. It was a picture of a child sleeping in bed and the assignment was to write what they were dreaming about. I am sure for most kids it was playing and having fun, but my son’s stated, “I am running and someone is trying to stab me in the back. This is not a dream, it is real.” My heart sank and the faces of the staff in the room were not good.
I had to explain to the school that my son was not in any danger now and that his father was removed and their was a restraining order, something some of the staff already knew. This was when I first realized that my son needed counseling and that I had defiantly stayed too long. Many people think that well if the abuser, man or women isn’t hitting the children and they don’t see every physical attack that the children will be fine. I am writing to tell you, that you are telling yourself one of the biggest lies a parent can tell.
My son is now 18 and he still suffers with P.T.S.D. which we all knowing means he is still traumatized from things that happened in his past. The nights when he was barely 3 and his father sat him on the kitchen table and told him to say by mommy as he held a knife to my throat or the time we were held hostage on my son’s bed as his father stood at the door with an axe, describing how he would chop me in little pieces and hide the body. Even though my husband smiled and joked with my young son at the time these images were forever etched in his young mind.
I write this so many years, maybe 10 years after living a daily life with the threat of harm and promises of death and when I hear someone say, “Why doesn’t an abused woman just leave?” To this day it still makes my skin crawl.
Maybe I should have left (could I have left) that night, or the next night he threatened me. But I didn’t. Butcher knives were thrown over my head and I knew God wouldn’t let one hit me tonight. I believe this was during the OJ Simpson trials. The trial brought so much pain into my life.
My husband watched the trial every moment of the day. He was drinking all the time and combined with the drama of the trial my life became even worse. He would cheer OJ on and call Nicole a cunt, getting what she deserved.
When he turned to me and said, “This is how you are going to die and I will get away with it. No one cares, can’t you see that?”
Looking back I know the answer to why doesn’t a woman just leave. I have said time and time again, I stayed so long because I feared dying more than I feared leaving. I would not leave until I feared staying more than I feared dying. Fear and the threat of more kept me in seclusion from the world for most of my twenties. I have been along and away from this man now for over 10 years. The physical threat of him was gone after only 1 ½ years of having him removed from my home but only because he died of a heart attack. The mental threat of him really only left my mind in the last year. I fear it will remain forever for my son.
Even years after my husbands death he frightened me at night, lurking in a dark corner or jumping from the closet in my room, something he enjoyed doing to remind me he was just nuts. He would wake me from my sleep jabbing me with a knife and telling me to scream because by the time the cops got there he would have killed me and would not care if he spent his life in jail, it would be well worth it.
Fear and the threat of more is what kept me in this abusive home. I was threatened for so long that I learned to cope hour at a time. We understand this statement for a drug addiction but not for a battered women? When you are being abused, mentally, physically or in any manner it starts out slow then becomes your life. By the time the abuser, most times, becomes their worst you have been conditioned to think this is normal. As long as you learn not to upset that person you think it is a good day. Eventually there are no more good days and you just die inside. You move threw the motions of your life and you learn to walk very gently on the eggshells of your life.
I had been convinced he would kill me if I left. I was told this over and over and not having any place to go I didn’t know what else to do. You don’t have the normal coping skills the rest of the world thinks you should. You are trying to get through the day without upsetting your abuser or getting hit. Too many phones had been ripped from the walls for me to ever think that I could call for help.
My point if there is one today is to leave before the children end up with a lifetime of horrible memories. I don’t care how young the children are they will remember and they will suffer from your choices. I had thought well at least I left when he was still young, at 4 ½ what would my son really remember. Sadly, his memory is better than mine at times.
All of these years later I am so thankful the final straw came when it did. I finally sleep like you should, peaceful and not fearing a knives will be jabbed at my throat that night. The best part of being free from an abuser is the freedom to have your own thoughts and opinions and being able to share them. You realize that you can change your life, have big dreams and sunny days. You don’t have to life in the darkness of another. Those days have finally arrived for me and I really do wish them for you too.
Let the sunny days arrive and you will survive. All I ask if that you let that horrible past make you a stronger person. Don’t let them define who you are but allow them to make you some of who you are. I have had family say, let that be in your past but what they don’t understand is that those horrible years made me the woman that I am today. I am strong because of them, I am determined to support other men and woman that have been abused to move on from that life and to have all that they dream. Being abused doesn’t make you weak in any way, but finding a way to escape that abuse makes you one of the strongest people that I know.
With My Sincerest Love,