- Posted March 23, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
The written word: Your personal essays
Why Not Leave? (staying in an abusive relationship)
He broke her arm last week. When he took her to the doctor he admitted he was the one responsible for her injuries. The doctor didn't report the abuse. She doesn't know whether to be angry or grateful.
She's was abused as a child and placed in children's homes by the state. She married shortly after she turned 18, but that marriage didn't last. Looking back at her first marriage she admits her first husband could be emotionally abusive at times.
"He made me feel as if it was my fault. Nobody else could love me. I believed him."
Eventually, she left him, taking their three young children with her. Later, she became engaged to another man. She thought she'd have her happy ending, but he, too, became abusive.
"He only attacked me the one time. That was the first and last time. I didn't want to be one of those stupid girls staying in an abusive relationship. I left him immediately and filed a police report."
In retaliation her former fiance filed several false police reports against her. Because of the pending court case she couldn't find employment. She turned to public assistance.
"'Normal people' didn't want to be around me. I tried to escape all that drama, but it followed me... he followed me."
Her former fiance stalked her. The police wouldn't help. She started carrying a camera with her everywhere she went, taking pictures of him following her. She presented evidence to the police, but they told her there was nothing they could do. She lost hope in the system.
Scared of being alone, she began 'dating'.
"I wasn't trying to get in a serious relationship. I just wanted somebody around who could protect me."
One thing led to another and one of her male friends became her boyfriend. He wasn't always the kindest person. "I thought I deserved the criticism. After all, my life was a mess. I screwed up somewhere, right?"
When she got pregnant unexpectedly, her ex husband (who had hoped to get back together with her) became angry and refused to return the children after his weekend visitation. The police and courts refused to help. Her boyfriend tried to convince her to have an abortion, suggesting the pregnancy hurt her case. She decided to continue the pregnancy.
"The emotional abuse got worse once I got pregnant. My ex husband had kidnapped the children, my ex fiance was stalking me, and my baby's father looked down at me, placing all the blame squarely on my shoulders."
She ignored the abuse her boyfriend was inflicting on her as best as she could. They didn't argue. He would say cruel things and she would pretend she didn't hear it, or she'd calmly correct him. She didn't want to be perceived poorly, so she grinned and bore it.
After their child was born he promised he'd change. He said he wanted to be with her. He said he loved her. She knew he just wanted to "do the right thing" by their child, so they got married.
"I was so afraid that he'd take our daughter from me, I felt being with him was the only way I could ensure I wouldn't lose her, too."
Meanwhile, she went back to school and got a full time job. Her husband claimed that since she was costing them money by going to school she had to make up for it by taking care of everything at home, too. The chores began to pile up because she simply was not home long enough to do everything that needed to be done.
He tried to sabotage her schooling, hiding her laptop to keep her from completing an assignment.
"The last thing I remember is turning my back to walk away. The next thing I know I'm laying in bed with busted teeth and a black eye swollen shut. I had a severe concussion and ended up in the hospital. The doctors didn't try to help me get out then, either. I dropped out of school after that."
A few months after that attack, her husband was offered a job 800 miles away. It was a well paying job and he'd have dental insurance to fix her broken teeth. She swore she'd only stay with him long enough to get the damage repaired. But, stuck in a city so far away from her friends, she never left.
A couple years after the first incident he struck again. This time he tried suffocating her because he was angry he only got one foot long sub instead of two. He went to jail, but she bailed him out the next day. She didn't have any income of her own. She wouldn't be able to pay the bills herself. If she didn't bail him out he'd lose his job.
He was put on probation and had to go through 6 months of anger management classes. She hoped that he would recognize how abusive he was and that he'd try to change.
"He admitted that he was abusive, but at the same time he blamed me for his actions. I 'made him do it'."
She spiraled into depression, which only made things worse. Then, one day, her older children were finally reunited with her. They moved in on rather short notice. She tried to hide the abuse, even from her own children. She was afraid they'd be taken from her again. At the same time, she started making plans to get out. She began searching for jobs, but because of her previous "record" she had a hard time. She volunteered and worked odd jobs, hoping something would pan out, but she wasn't having any luck.
Now she has a broken arm. She has no faith in the courts and she doesn't trust the police. She only has her Associates in a field that requires at least a Bachelors. She has 4 children she needs to support and public assistance isn't an option since she "used it all up".
She is afraid of reaching out, of admitting that she's being abused, because she's ashamed. When she's confided in her friends, they always ask the same thing:
"Why not leave?"
"It's complicated," she sighs.
UPDATE: After 7 years together, she (I) finally left him. While she (I) was talking to the detectives he cleared out their bank account. Now he's sitting in jail and she's (I'm) worried she (I) will be evicted because she (I) won't be able to pay rent.
CONFESSION: I'm ashamed to admit this is my own personal story. And that broken arm? That's not mine. That's my childs broken arm. That's what made me finally decide to leave.