Opinion – Why victims stay with their abusers
By Holly Blume Gillar
Special to the POST-REGISTER
Victims of domestic violence often get asked why they stay with their abusive partner.
Survivors get asked why they stayed so long with their abusive partner. Just as there is no simple definition of domestic abuse, there is no simple answer to the questions regarding staying in an a
busive situation. The reasons are as numerous and different as the victims and the abuse they endure.
For me, I stayed because I didn’t recognize that I was being emotionally abused. I stayed because I felt that it wasn’t abuse if it wasn’t physical or sexual. I stayed because I thought it was the alcohol causing the Jekyll and Hyde behavior. I stayed because he was going to AA and saying he had stopped drinking. I stayed because he used to be so loving and sweet. I stayed because he wasn’t mean all the time. I stayed because he had me convinced there was something wrong with me. I stayed because I was ashamed.
I stayed because I thought I could fix the situation. I stayed because I didn’t understand tactics like love bombing, gaslighting, bashing/baiting, and projection. I stayed because I depended on him. I stayed because he said it was an accident. I stayed because I believed him. I stayed because no one else saw what I saw and experienced what I experienced. I stayed because I felt isolated and trapped. I stayed because we have a child together. I stayed because I had hopes and dreams of our future. I stayed because he simply couldn’t be a monster. I stayed because I was used to it. I stayed because I loved him.
When I left, my world was shattered. My best friend had turned into a monster. What happened to the kind, loving, caring, gentle, fun man I had married? When I left, as with many people who leave an abusive situation, the world became more dangerous and frightening.
My husband became worse. He threatened me, he threatened my family, and he threatened our child. I temporarily moved my daughter and myself a couple of hours away to live with my parents. We had safety plans in place for if he ever showed up at the door. I didn’t know if I would be able to keep my job, because I knew I couldn’t afford to keep my home. I didn’t know where my daughter and I would live. My marriage, my family, my home, my job, my future, my daughter’s safety, and my family’s safety were all up in the air. I didn’t know what was going to happen, and I didn’t know how I could possibly cope anymore.
But I did. And it was the hardest, scariest thing I have ever done. Staying in an abusive marriage was nothing compared to leaving, healing, and rebuilding my life. I found my strength in my daughter. She deserves a life free of the hell of our previous one.
And, I now realize, so do I.
If you need help escaping an abusive situation, or if want to help someone who is being abused, you can call Licia Edwards of Victim Services at the Sheriff’s Office at (512) 221-8729 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).
Editor’s Note: This is the third in a multi-part series in recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, intended to educate and enlighten our readers to the pervasive problem of Domestic Violence in Texas.