How many of you reading this have experienced abuse of some kind, as a child and/or in a relationship? I experienced both, but for now I will focus on the experience that gave me the most wisdom, which was my second marriage.
When I met my abuser, I was still trying to heal from my first marriage and divorce. Friends with good intentions were urging me to get back into dating. I didn’t feel I was ready for that yet, but began to feel that dating might help me get past the loss I felt from my divorce.
I had difficulty standing up for myself even when I knew I needed to and should. Reasons for this can be traced back to my childhood. This made me an easy catch for someone with an abusive nature, as manipulation is one of the key skills of abusers. Even people who at first seemed nice, loving and caring can be hiding abusive personalities or trait. We don’t deliberately get involved with abusive people. They attract us by their ability to be loving and caring toward us.
It’s said that victims of abuse will behave in two ways, they will either withdraw and be quiet or join the abuser and become abusive themselves. I was the quiet and withdrawn type. At first the abuse was mostly mental and it didn’t take long before I saw evidence of not just his anger, but his rage. I wanted to get away, but didn’t know how I would be able to without a violent reaction from him. Even before experiencing physical attacks from him, I sensed he was quite capable of physical abuse and I had no where to go. It got worse after we had a child. When an abuser is confident that they have you trapped and fully under their control, the abuse often steps up to the next level. So many of the things listed in the “Signs of Abusive Personalities,” I witnessed and heard. I knew I had to find a way to get my child and myself away form him. I didn’t want my child to grow up in that kind of situation. Seeing things a child doesn’t need to see, like a high chair flying across two rooms. It would take two years for that to happen.
Though escape can be difficult, it is possible. I was fortunate in that I had a family member who was willing to help us. I also recommend Domestic Violence shelters that offer havens for battered women and their children. The domestic counselor I had was associated with such a shelter. She also was a domestic violence survivor. Perhaps that’s why she was so good at counseling battered women.
An abuse survivor requires time to heal on several levels, especially mentally and emotionally, with the average length of time taking around three years, but sometimes longer. I know some survivors who avoid getting involved in intimate relationships and never remarry. I was told by the domestic violence counselor that this isn’t unusual. I guess that’s because their ability to trust men has been completely destroyed.
A survivor of any type of abuse needs to learn to accept and love themselves. Accept the good with the bad. No one is perfect and no one deserves abuse. If you want to change a few things about yourself, then you can work toward making those changes. Just remember your good qualities and continue to nurture them. Often after an abusive experience, the person doesn’t remember the person they were before the abuse or what they have to offer to others and the world. Rediscovering yourself takes time and is part of the healing process.
Its important to remember that the abuse was not your fault. All responsibility for abusive behavior belongs with the abuser. They are the only one who chose to do what they did and are the only one who can choose to change their behavior.