You might think that any woman who has been abused will be elated once her abuser has been removed from her life. I used to think that way. It seemed so simple. I would scream at the women on my television screen who’d continuously profess their undying love for men who were clearly undeserving. Why doesn’t she just leave? What is she thinking? I thought they were fools. I thought they were weak. I swore it wouldn’t happen to me.
Movies don’t really prepare you for modern abuse. It looks different in real life, and it may be harder to recognize when it’s happening to you. I spent so much of my relationship in denial; justifying his behavior, striving to be a better partner, trying to prevent his wrath. Lately I look back and find it hard to believe that I really put up with so much crap, but it didn’t always seem unreasonable.
I fell in love with an amazing man. He had so much potential. He was sexy and intelligent and a little bit of an asshole, he had all the makings of being the alpha male of my dreams. He had a past filled with problems, but now he had me, and together we could do anything. We would rule the world. Or, at least that’s the way it seemed that things could be in the beginning, and intermittently throughout the next eight years.
When you haven’t been in an abusive relationship it’s difficult to empathize with victims. When you haven’t had your perfect love take a nose dive into domestic violence, then try to recuperate from its depths, it is almost impossible to understand why anyone would risk it happening again. Abuse can be very complex; for me it was interwoven with times of peace, understanding, reconnecting, and revisiting the dream of being the perfect team, the perfect family, an enduring example of unity.
I have since learned more about abuse, and I realize that these periodic “good times” were just a part of the cycle. Before, I thought that they were signs of hope. I look at the wheel of power and control given to me by my counselor and feel ignorant to not have realized the truth earlier on.
I had refused to see myself as a battered woman. I didn’t want to leave and become a single mom. It was embarrassing to admit how I was treated, and I’d told no one the full truth in so long that I was terrified no one would believe me. I also had hardly anyone I could tell, because I’d lost most of my support system when I fell under his spell. Even still, I didn’t want to give up on my husband, so I continuously convinced myself that things were not so bad. I desperately clung to the idea that we could make anything better together.
Now I am mourning the loss of my dream. It’s difficult to realize that I never would have succeeded, no matter how much I suffered, how hard I tried, how much he meant to me. I am finally removed from the relationship, but I will always love him, and I will always wish that things could have worked out differently. Just like those impossible women on my television screen I couldn’t relate with long ago.