Why didn’t you leave? Why won’t you go outside in the dark by ourself? Why didn’t you ask anyone for help? Why didn’t you tell me? I thought only veterans get PTSD, are you sure you have it? Why aren’t you in a relationship? Are you going to blame the next guy for what your abuser did? Why do you think he will come back, don’t you think he’s over it by now? You really think his family doesn’t believe you? Why didn’t you call the cops? Why are you so angry? Why are you depressed? Why didn’t you fight back? What are you going to tell your son? You STILL have nightmares? You still feel scared to go out in public? Why don’t you just get over it? Why do you keep talking about it?
I can not tell you how many times I have been asked these questions, or other domestic violence survivors have heard these questions. So I will give you some answers from my perspective.
Imagine the person you loved completely shattered you. It doesn’t happen all at once. Maybe you didn’t do a task you were asked to do properly-you must be stupid. You got hit on at a bar-you’re a slut. You got home late-you were cheating. You asked him to not stay out so late maybe only drink 3 beers instead of the whole box-you are controlling. You got into an argument-its all your fault and you’re a bitch. If you are hearing that everything bad that happens in your relationship is your fault, over time you believe him. And these exchanges of words aren’t calm, they are violent. Someone in your face, screaming,yelling, punching walls. They are so close to your face that you feel the heat from their breath and you feel their spit on your face. You feel scared, helpless, and the worst part is, you feel like everything IS your fault. Maybe if I left work earlier, maybe if I didn’t tell him how much to drink, maybe if I didn’t dress a certain way he wouldn’t be so mad.
The verbal arguments slowly turn into physical attacks. Alyssa, why didn’t you just call the cops for help? Because you are crippled with fear. You believe his words. You believe you deserve the hits, your things being broken, and the worst part-YOU deserve to be broken. You see, unless you have been a victim of any sort of domestic violence you will NEVER understand. I think that is one of the hardest parts of being a survivor. You try to explain what it feels like but you cant. Nobody will ever know what its like to be afraid of your own shadow, the wind blowing a tree branch against your window, and the strangest part you are afraid of yourself.
PTSD- is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It does not just effect combat veterans. It can come from getting into a car accident, from sexual assault, physical and verbal violence, from anything traumatic that has happened to you. After I got out of my relationship I wouldn’t even walk in my driveway in the dark by myself. I wouldn’t sit with my back to a door at a restaurant, I wouldn’t sleep for more than 4 hours a night, I would drive around laps in the parking lot at the food store to make sure anyone he knew wasn’t there. You sit there and replay the events in your head like a never ending movie reel. You are so anxious you are crawling out of your own skin. You don’t go places that attacks happened and you definitley don’t want to talk about it. You can get physical symptoms-stomach cramps, nausea/vomiting, body aches. Many survivors turn to substance abuse to escape and numb the pain. You fear the world. Just imagine that for a second. You are afraid every second of everyday. You think he will be on every corner you turn, he will be in every restaurant, he will be in your room at night. You’re like a child fearing a monster except the monster is real. You wake up drenched in sweat and your heart pounding out of your chest because you had a nightmare. You get depressed, pushing away family and friends, blaming yourself and you are embarrassed that you even got into that situation.
You are so afraid that you are going to date someone else who will hurt you again, so you stay single. The littlest red flags in a relationship come up- you end it. Once you give pieces of your heart to someone and they completely ruin it, you don’t want to give any pieces of yourself to anyone again. Will I ever blame the next guy I date for what R did to me? NO, but I can tell you that I analyze their behaviors. I look at how they act when they are angry, how they treat strangers, how they treat their families. If they drink, if they do drugs, what goals they have set.
Domestic violence is a huge epidemic that doesn’t get very much attention. SO many people victim shame without even knowing it. Your friends and family will not understand why you didn’t tell them so they get frustrated. Sure they are proud of you for leaving him, but they will always say “But why didn’t you tell me, I am frustrated you didn’t tell me, or if you hid something that big from me what else are you hiding ” Let me tell you some statics.
- Every 20 minutes someone is abused by an intimate partner. That means around 10 million victims a year.
- 1 in 7 women are stalked by their abusers.
- Domestic victimization is corolated with a higher risk of depression and suicide.
- 72% of all murder suicides were domestic violence situations
- Number of troops killed in Iraq-6,614. During that same time period 11,766 women died from DV, that isn’t even including men.
- 1 in 4 women will be abused in their lifetime, that is just who reports the violence. God knows how many go unaccounted for.
The important thing to realize is that when we stay with our abuser , it is because we are promised change. We don’t want the relationship to end, we want the abuse to stop. When you’re too weak to leave you believe the broken promises and lies your abuser tells you. As a family or friend of an abuse victim you CAN NOT tell them to just leave. Don’t put them down for staying, they are not mentally capable of getting out. What also needs to be understood is the most dangerous time in a domestic violence relationship is when you leave. That is when the most murders happen. Abusers don’t just threaten to kill you, they threaten to kill your family, friends, anyone you care about.
All of these reasons are why I keep on talking.
I have a voice. I am going to educate and preach about domestic violence every single day, because I got out and the biggest reason…