Aren’t others often too quick to judge a woman who chooses to stay with an emotionally (and at times physically) abusive partner? “You are being stupid”, they tell you. “Why can’t you think straight?”, they ask in disbelief. Why would anyone voluntarily stay with a person who does not treat them well, they wonder. Believe it or not, it is not easy to let go of someone you love. But chances are that the same “love” is slowly killing you. The toxic relationship you choose to stay in will gradually rob you of every ounce of happiness you have and make you a victim of Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Majority of abusive relationships do not start off on an abusive note. There is always love and romance in the beginning. Chances are that he is the most charming guy you have ever met. His possessiveness would make you secretly happy. His short temper would seem exciting. Did he get angry? So what, he’s just passionate. He doesn’t let you go out with your friends? That’s okay, it is because he is concerned. Did he raise his voice? It’s fine because it was your fault. The list will eventually get longer without you even noticing and so would the number of excuses you make for him.
The first thing every woman who is in love would try is to work things out, to keep the ugly side hidden, to ignore the fact that there is a problem. A dig at your expense in front of his friends, shouting at you in front of the children, finding fault with everything you do— you let go of such incidents. You tell yourself he is just having a bad day. When he slaps you for the first time, you are shocked, but you decide to let it pass— it is because he cares, you try to convince yourself. You start wearing long sleeves to cover your bruises, your bloodshot eyes become constantly hidden behind tinted glasses and you start making excuses to skip social events. You cut contacts. You lose touch with friends and family.
You convince yourself that you are staying for love—it would be weak to just throw all this away just because he gets angry occasionally. You hang on, thinking it’s for the children— how could your children grow up without their father? You cling on because you are financially unstable— what would you without a job? You suffer silently thinking what would others say. The reasons to stay will be endless, though it is very clear the primary thing you ought to do is leave.
Living with someone that is abusive can mess with your mind and body. It can emotionally cripple you, rob you of self-esteem, and make you forget what it was to be happy. You may stay, thinking you are doing it for the children, but there is a bigger possibility of you scarring them for life by forcing them to live in an abusive environment. There is even a chance that you stay because your partner has drilled in the idea that you are worthless without him; that you won’t make it on your own.
One day you open your eyes and you realize you are neck deep in water. The little droplets you thought were harmless have accumulated, flooding your life. You look in the mirror and see a stranger who has forgotten how to smile, whose eyes have lost their luster, who stopped dreaming a long time ago, who put her whole life on pause to save a relationship that was not worth saving. You realize your “love” has been poisoning you for years, slowly pushing you over the edge. What happened to the strong, independent woman who used to be in charge of her life once upon a time?
Often, it’s the psychological abuse that shatters the willpower of a woman. Black eyes and bloody noses would heal, but the emotional scars would never fade. It won’t be long before you are overpowered by stress and depression. PTSD would drain your essence. The key is to get help as soon as you realize your life is spiraling before you. Go for therapy, get counseling, convince yourself that you are strong enough to leave, vow that your sons would never have to witness their father abusing their mother again, promise yourself that your daughters will grow up into strong, bold women. Tell yourself it is okay to let go.
Most importantly, realize the fact that you stayed because you were strong, and that it’s high time you moved on— you don’t have to prove anything to anyone. Be your own hero and rewrite your story. Remember, your happiness is not in the hands of anybody else; it is within you.