Love almost killed me.
Well, not love exactly. But what I thought was love and commitment and marriage and a person who would one day get their act together. That is what almost killed me. That person is who almost killed.
Do you think I’m exaggerating? Being dramatic? I’m not. Not at all. I was ambushed in my own home, held captive at gunpoint with my wrists tied, swelling more by the second and so painful. Then I was brutally assaulted. All at the hands of the person who vowed to love me forever.
What happened is not my fault. None of it is. Even though I chose to stay for various reasons, being abused is not and never was or will be, my fault. I never asked for it. I never agreed to it. I never understood it.
Though I saw some red flags, even in our dating relationship, I didn’t understand they were foreshadowing of worse behavior to come. I was a college-educated, responsible young woman, but I was also naive and hadn’t quite learned how to listen to my intuition. I didn’t recognize a bad person because I was raised to be a good person who was always kind, and it was a completely foreign concept to me that everyone else wasn’t the same. I didn’t get that there were people who had ill intentions, disorders, or were abusive. I just didn’t really know. So I couldn’t recognize what I didn’t realize existed.
Maybe the most important element here is that he didn’t treat me well and I didn’t know I could demand better. I accepted what was because I loved him and was committed to the relationship. And we got married. If you’re in a less-than-great relationship right now where you’re undervalued and disrespected – even a little bit – don’t think that marriage will fix that. It’s the exact opposite, actually.
Marriage is stressful and life is stressful. So add stress to a relationship with someone who already has issues coping, and you’re in for problems. Marriage actually doesn’t really fix anything. Marriage is wonderful when it involves two people committed to the union and dedicated to making it amazing. It’s a mess when one or both individuals don’t sincerely try, or go in a completely different direction.
What can you learn from my experience?
If you’re in a dating relationship and your gut tells you it’s not right; if your partner lies to you, acts possessively, is disrespectful, tries to make you do things you’ve been clear you don’t want to do; if the people who love you most (siblings, parents, grandparents, friends) are telling you the relationship is not good – end it. Does that sound harsh? Maybe. But only a soft maybe.
Why would you want to stay in a relationship with anyone like what I described above? And please hear me on this: even if you love the person, even if you think they’re amazing, if your loved ones are otherwise reasonable people who want the best for you, and they’re seeing things in your mate that are red flags, pay attention to them. Do not disregard what they’re saying. If you’re in a relationship with someone who is being even a little manipulative, there’s a very good chance you are blinded by this and can’t see what’s really there.
If you’re in a longer-term relationship or marriage where the abuse is clear, get help. In whatever way makes the safest sense to you: talk to close family, your best friend, your pastor, seek out a therapist, find a women’s shelter for domestic violence. It is not easy to handle this on your own. You will need support, even if it’s one person. You will need it. It might feel embarrassing to share what your life is like. You may feel so certain no one could possibly understand. Believe me, you’re not unique. I felt that way too: “this is humiliating, nobody will understand.” People will…because you and I? We’re not the only ones who’ve faced this. Unfortunately, we’re just a few of many. People will understand and they will help.
Learn your worth. If we really understood how valuable we are, how lovable we are, and how much we deserved to be treated well, we wouldn’t get into abusive relationships, I really believe. If we really were so strong that nobody could put a ding in our self-esteem; nobody could get us to question our value; if nobody could get us to doubt ourselves or believe lies about ourselves, we’d run the first time we even got a whiff of somebody who wasn’t the best for us. (P.S. Listen to me though: because we sometimes do end up in painful relationships, it’s still never our fault that someone is abusive. That’s completely and totally on them).
Need to talk? Message me here through the blog. The message will come to me confidentially.
Need immediate help? Call a friend, pastor, counselor, someone you trust OR the National Domestic Abuse Hotline at 1−800−799−7233.
There is hope. You may feel trapped and you just might really be, but there is hope. And if you’ve already survived an abusive relationship, you are not in any way damaged goods (I used to think I was). You are beautiful and now is the time to start rediscovering who you are. Hey, you can decide who you are because you can find your voice and start rebuilding your life.