I stayed because...
Surrendering personal control
Date: 4/12/2011 10:23:42 AM ( 25 mon ) ... viewed 495 times
"Soulful, you seem like an intelligent person. Why didn't you just leave if it was that bad?" This question has been asked over, and over, even by a Social Services caseworker. My own divorce attorney advised that the subject of domestic violence and abuse remain closed to the Court. If I could provide a single, simple response to that pervasive question, it would have to be that I didn't know that I had options once I began that inexorable free-fall into the abyss of abuse.
From the moment that I aligned myself with the former abuser, my belief in personal options was systematically dismantled. From personal goals and interests, to my religious practices, every choice was determined by the abuser based upon his approval, or the promise of that approval.
Once we entered into the legal, binding contract of marriage, I honestly believed that there was no turning back. I had made it quite clear that I believed in living up to my commitments, and the abuser worked this to his fullest advantage. I was determined to make our union a success, no matter what it took, and divorce was out of the question: divorce meant failure and a breakdown of commitment, and I was not giving up for the most foolish excuse of accepting the title of being "The Only One" that the abuser could trust and "love."
Most domestic violence and abuse is perpetrated after some sort of commitment has been made: marriage, sharing a home/apartment together, combining financial resources, producing offspring, or a promise of a committed relationship. Contemporary teenagers, in general, see no need for commitment and violence and abuse is perpetrated at an astonishing 70% in relationship interactions. This means that there need not be a situation of commitment for abuse to occur, only intent to own and destroy another human being.
In my case, I became pregnant within 3 months after the bogus social "wedding," and I was devastated. The former abuser had entered the Coast Guard since he would have at least 3 years of employment and would really have TRY very hard to be "fired" via a discharge. I was devastated about becoming a mother because I had never wanted to have children until I was emotionally, financially, and spiritually prepared to be a stong, emotionally sound parent. Parenthood also meant giving up partying and other frivilous wants, and I didn't feel that I was ready to sacrifice my wants to see to the needs of a helpless child. And, perhaps, my subconscious Self knew that the production of a child with the abuser would keep me bound to him, forever.
Although I made an occasional friend, I was generally alone with the abuser dictating his mandates, demanding demeaning and perverse sexua| performance, approving/disapproving of frienships, and seizing control of our joint finances. As time progressed, I relinquished the power to make my own choices and decisions by proxy. I was now the mother of an infant that required constant attention outisde of the realm of "normal," as he was continuously ill with infections and gastrointestinal issues. I was chronically sick and exhausted from caring for my son and had little help from his father. I was also alone because the abuser was sent various places for training by the Coast Guard - he spent 4 months in California for training and had the time of his life partying and doing who-knows-what while I was tending to our son without relief.
I was further isolated when the abuser called to inform me of his assigned duty station which he had on his wish-list. Okay, I come from a military family and am quite familiar with the incredible sacrifices that the "dependants" make, and this wasn't the problem. The problem that there was a distinct absence of RELATIONSHIP - that is, no communication or dialogue. I wasn't even aware that there was a wish-list, and had no input as to possible relocations. I was informed by the abuser over the phone that he was to be stationed in Honolulu and that we would be leaving the East Coast ib less than 3 weeks. I was taken 6000 miles from everything that I knew and deposited in "Paradise" with a sick infant and myself in deep depression about my situation - no friends, no job, a very sick baby, and myself just as physically ill with a husband that demanded me to be obedient and submissive. The move to Hawaii should have been thrilling, but it was where the abuser intensified the abuse and violence and pretty much snuffed out my Life's Spark.
More on this, later. I invite comments from Survivors, friends/family of victils, and comments from those who think that they might be living in an environment of abuse. "Talking" about our experiences helps to put things into perspective, and this is vital for personal healing and growth, whether we are victims, Survivors, or friends/family in witness of a loved one' victimization or Survival.
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