Written by: Jeri, Survivor
October, ironically Domestic Abuse Awareness Month, was the month I realized I was in an abusive situation.
Last month. It’s something I’ve dreaded the last two years. So many people look forward to it. They see pumpkins and hayrides and Halloween. But I fear it. I dread it.
I remember the fights, the fear, the constant questioning of myself. The panic that comes in waves now. October is when so much changed and when life began to crash down on me.
People think that that abuse is when someone hits the other person. I always pictured a man punching a woman and that woman carrying that bruise on her face. That was my picture of abuse. And that is abuse. But abuse is so much more.
Abuse is someone controlling the other person. When one person can’t make a decision for themselves, because someone else is telling them what to do. Abuse is when someone watches every word they say because they fear the other person’s response. When they pray that the other person wouldn’t drink because the repercussions affect them more than anyone ever sees.
This became my reality. To watch every word I would say. To question whether I said the right thing. To question whether or not it really was my fault that he had gotten angry at me. To know when he was drinking and to do everything in my power to make sure he didn’t get upset. To try to laugh it off when he would give me ultimatums, like if you do that, you can’t eat. To blame myself for his anger, because surely, I had said or done the wrong thing. To distract him when he was angry. To make sure his anger was redirected at someone else. Because if it was towards me, I didn’t know what would happen.
Then at the end of September and in October, it got worse. I thought my relationship was fine. Of course, there was always that voice saying maybe something was wrong; something was off in our relationship. That maybe when he blamed me, it really wasn’t my fault. But I just kept brushing it off saying I am a difficult person to date. Saying he loved me. I loved him. It was fine.
But it wasn’t fine. And had I listened to that still small voice, my life would be different. But instead, like so many other people in abusive relationships, I pushed it aside.
Now my Octobers aren’t marked by plaid shirts and pumpkin patches. They are marked by the last weekend when he refused to talk to me because I had said no to something he had wanted. That weekend he told me he didn’t want me to sleep because I refused to sleep in his bed. That weekend he sexually assaulted me. That weekend, I had to watch what I drank, because I feared it would happen again. That weekend he tried to kill us…
My healing is coming. I am so much farther along than where I was last year. I am forgiving him by the grace of God, and I am grateful that God saved me from that situation. I have walked through a lot with God’s help (and some amazing counselors, friends, and family). I can also now pray that he is doing well.
But I know there are women (and men) in similar situations. And it worries me. They are pushing aside that small little voice, that voice that’s saying something’s not right. So please, if you hear it, start to do something. Ask someone with wisdom if what they said or did is or isn’t healthy. Talk to a counselor, a best friend, a pastor. But don’t ignore it. Because one day (or maybe it already is there), it could get worse. You could have an “October” of your own, and I would wish that on no-one.
So, in light of this past Domestic Violence Awareness Month and my story, I ask you to consider and picture abuse to be much bigger than someone hitting someone else. It can be emotional, spiritual, physical and so much more. More than even I know. But let’s not ignore it. Let’s bring it to the light, so that more people might be helped. My prayer is that everyone can have healthy relationships and love one another.
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