An abused woman

I was an abused woman.

I can’t tell you how many years it took me to figure that out.  Then deny it again.  Then figure it out.  Then deny it again.  And so on…

I remember very early in our marriage when the name-calling started.  I wasn’t completely broken at that point, and I said to him, “You know, name calling is a form of verbal abuse and I just won’t tolerate it.”  His response was “Whatever.  You call me names all of the time too.”  I think that you are confusing me with the voices in your head.

Why Does He Do That?Sometime later during the Bad Years, I read the book “Why Does He Do That?  Inside the Minds of Controlling and Angry Men” by Lundy Bancroft.  (I highly recommend that you click on the book to the Amazon.com link and view the first few pages.  If you wonder if this book applies to your situation, the first few examples given might shed some light.)

The fact that I sought out this book tells me that I was already suspecting that he was angry and controlling.  It’s not like I selected the book “A Million Ways to Please my Amazing Husband.”  RED FLAG?

Because he didn’t hit me at the time (only blocking my path in disagreements), so it was difficult for me to accept the notion that I was abused woman.  I thought of abuse in physical terms, and if he ever did hit me, I was outta there.  (Yeah right, sister.)  Although I understood that the name-calling was a form of verbal abuse, I didn’t understand that all of the subtle things, like the extreme jealousy and all of the criticisms and efforts to control that were forms of mental abuse.

Even after some of these things came to light, I still attempted to hide it from other people.  To the outside world, I talked about the good things that he did.  Some of the stories were about events so very minute amidst huge terrible things, but I needed people to see him as generous and giving so that I could believe that he was generous and giving and that these other events didn’t mean that he was a bad husband.

Eventually that armor started to crack and I shared the occasional story.  However I delivered it with humor in an attempt to minimize it, so that people wouldn’t see the real level of damage that it was causing.  The majority of the responses that I received from friends were along the lines of “I don’t know how you put up with it” or “I would have to kill him if he was my husband.”  Being an abused woman and not seeing things with clarity, these responses just perpetuated my feelings that no one understood him the way that I did.  I knew his true heart.  These other things were not the “real him.”

It was after the divorce, when I finally came to terms with the reality of the relationship.  And by “after the divorce,” I mean sometime in the past year despite the fact that our divorce was finalized in 2008.  I’m healing and growing and working on rebuilding self-esteem and looking at the world through different eyes.

It’s odd because I can state “I was an abused woman” with little emotion.  It is just a fact.  I don’t pity myself or feel much of anything about it.  (on most days)

But when I see someone who I love being abused, I feel an extreme amount of emotion about it.  And that emotion is FURY.  I want to shake my loved one and make her see her husband as he really is and without rose-colored glasses.  I want her to see her worth and find her strength.  I want her to stand up for herself, make decisions for herself, and take back her power.

I am fighting the urge to let her husband know that I see through him.  I recognize the signs.  He is angry and controlling and manipulative and arrogant and petty and WRONG.  Just plain wrong.

She is beautiful and kind and giving and a great mother to their children.  Her smile lights up a room.  And yet, he brings her into darkness.  He makes her feel that she is incompetent.  He makes her feel that she is stupid and he is all-knowing.  He has stripped her of the power to think for herself and make decisions (and oh, how I have been there).  He makes her think that she can’t survive without him.  He makes her think that she is lucky to have him.

He is wrong.  Just plain wrong, I tell you.  He is lucky to have her.  He doesn’t appreciate her and right now, he sure as heck doesn’t deserve her.

I love her and my heart breaks for her.  She is stronger than she realizes.  But right now, she is an abused woman.

 

Comments

  1. No matter how bad, when we are in it, we can’t see it until one day, the light comes on, and wow. I remember the day the light went on for my friend. She was telling me a story, and I said – that sounds like a passive-agressive behavior. We went online together and found a book or some website. I bought the book and gave it to her when we were at work. As she read it, she would call me and say – oh my gosh, that is just like X. And so is this. And this.
    She is now so happy and without him, and the kids are happy and blossoming in their new environment.

  2. We can always hope that those who desperately need to will find this blog post….and as importantly, will SEE themselves in its words.

  3. I, too, always thought since I wasnt physically abused, I wasn’t being abused. It wasn’t until after my divorce was final that a family member pointed out that my ex emotionally and mentally abused me. Looking back, yep….I was an abused woman.

  4. There are so many “red flag” words/phrases above, it’s amazing. I recognize them because I’ve been there (and I since work/volunteer at a DV shelter). 1-Attempting to hide his issues, 2- Trying desperately to look at/find the good in him (“knew his true heart”… God, I thought I did too!), 3- Feeling “FURY” and anger – these are emotions which are warning signs, in this case – for your friend. BUT, when your friends said “if that were my husband, I’d have to kill him.”…. that was their anger for your situation. 4- Makes her think she is lucky to have him, 5- doesn’t appreciate her.

    Just want to say that you deserve a huge high five. Recognizing it all and coming to terms with it all is such a huge step in the right direction!

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