I’m going to be honest; I have been harshly judgmental of people who stay in abusive relationships. When I watched guests on talk shows and stories on news programs like Dateline, I would be disgusted with the women or men who would go back to their abusers again and again. I would often say, “if my significant other hit me, then that would be the last time he/she would put their hands on me.” People like that disgusted me!
Until I found myself in an abusive relationship… and returned to it again and again and again.
This episode in my life hasn’t been something I’ve allowed myself to think about often. I guess I still have trouble believing that it was as bad as it seemed.
But it really was bad. I made excuse after excuse for the other person. She had convinced me that I was the one at fault.
Denial. Shame. Embarrassment.
These three things have allowed me to stuff any feelings about this relationship and helped me ignore my woundings from it. This past weekend, I have actually shared this shameful part of my life with others. I spent at least an hour processing with a close friend who witnessed the whole relationship. She had seen the warning signs and did everything she could to warn me. She begged me to leave when she saw the bruises for the first time.
During our recent conversation, this friend finally had the opportunity to share just how she felt during my abusive relationship. I found out that she turned her phone ringer up to its highest setting when she went to sleep so that she would hear it if I called for help. She told me of the fear that I would end up dead or in prison for defending myself and how she prayed like crazy for me. She told me of the fear and agony she felt. I told her that I didn’t realize how bad it had been.
My eyes are finally beginning to open. I became the very thing I judged throughout my life. I now understand the difficulty in leaving abusive relationships and have compassion for the others who find themselves trapped.
To those who were or are in an abusive relationship: I am so sorry for my judgment! I pray that you have the strength to find help. You cannot leave without it. I know it’s hard to imagine that life would be better away from that person, but it truly is. Here are some links to find help:
To the friends who helped me get out: I love you more than I can say or do! You are amazing, and I am so blessed for each of you.
To my close friend who prayed for me relentlessly: Thank you for not giving up on me, and praying when I couldn’t. Thank you for allowing me to come to your office the morning after a physical altercation to allow me to just talk and eat breakfast. Thank you for allowing me to come to your home to just rest on the couch for a moment of peace during this time. Thank you for still loving me when I began lying to you about the things happening in my relationship. You knew I was lying, but you knew not to confront me or else I would stop talking to you. Your gentleness in the midst of your agony inspires me. I love you.