Did you watch Meredith Vieira last Monday when she talked about an abusive relationship in her younger years? A woman this well know stepping up to share #WhyIStayed and #WhyILeft puts more focus on an issue that has long been in the closet needs to come out. Her sharing also brought back memories of my experience.I married young the first time, and went from my parents’ rules to those of my new husband. At first the ‘do this’ and ‘do that’ wasn’t’ too bad. I’d been used to a lot more rigged demands. After all, he was military and was used to things being done a certain way. So what if he discovered an example of my first attempts at writing a book and laughed. All that meant was I sucked. The manuscript ended up in the trash and the love of writing became more focused on reading books by those who could tell a story.
Several years and two children later things were rocky. The first time he hit me was while stopped for a traffic light he yelled, “shut the f***” up.” I’d heard those words before, but not the slap that followed. Shocked, I huddled against my door and worked to stop the blood flowing from my nose.The next morning my neighbor and best friend called and told me to come over for coffee. I hesitated, but put extra makeup on the bruised side of my face and forced a smile when I entered her house. She looked at me and asked, "What the hell happened to you?”
My efforts to cover up the bruising hadn’t worked. I broke down and told her what happened. She encouraged me to leave, but where would I go? My family couldn’t afford to support us and my job skills were ‘homemaker’ and according to my husband, not a very good one. “He apologized and promised not to hit me again,” I told her. (He had apologized and promised never again.)He kept the promise too, until a few weeks later when he came home late and drunk. His cold dinner didn’t set well and that led to an argument…and another slap.
This time I wasn’t stunned and stood my ground. I picked up the cast iron skillet setting on top of the stove and waved it at him. “You ever lay another hand on me and you’ll regret it.”His response—laughter and pointing out he could take the skillet since he was bigger and stronger.
“Yes, but you have to sleep at some point.” Maybe it was the implied threat, or he saw the determination in my eyes and knew I meant what I said, but he turned and went to bed.No, he never hit me physically again, but he did continue the hurtful comments. They eventually included the kids. Foolish ME still worked to save the marriage for the sake of the children. Then one day after he had a nastier than usual tirade, my little girl burst into tears and screamed at me, “Why do you make us live like this?” I knew then we had to get out. At that time we lived in a foreign country, but with the transfer back to the states we ended up close to the city where my best friend lived, and thankfully, I knew people in the community who helped in my job search.
Fortunately, I did get a job even without a college degree, and we got by. And yes, I’m glad I left. In fact, I wish I’d left sooner. I did manage to get counseling for myself and the children. We made it through to a bright life.That was a lot of years ago and I remarried. That one ended in my husband passing, but he never raised a hand to me.
The children from my first marriage are now adults and have families of their own. Watching them interact with their spouses makes me proud. They disagree at times, but there is give and take, just like I have in my third marriage. As my daughter said at our reception, “Mom, I think you got it right this time.”Have you been in an abusive relationship, or know others who have? How did you, or they get out? If not, reach out to a women’s center in your area. Don’t stay because he promises to change even though you love him. Unless he is willing to seek help, change isn’t going to happen.
And if you can't find the information you need, check this list of organizations that can direct you to someone. http://www.oprah.com/relationships/Domestic-Violence-Organizations-Where-to-Get-Help
#WhyIStayed #WhyILeft #FindHelp