The following is a Narrative account of how Abuse in a home can feel to someone dealing with it. It may raise certain feelings. It is intended to provoke emotion. Read with caution.
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Is My Spouse Abusive?
You’re lying on a bed. In a room inside a house that has never felt like home.
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The small moments that it has for a split second felt like home stolen by the days between filled with yelling, screaming and sometimes hiding.
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Sometimes you hide in your own home. You hide in plain sight so to you it doesn’t seem like hiding. But you hide your thoughts and your mouth. You conceal your presence because you can’t always be present in your home when you live with a ticking time bomb. That’s how he feels sometimes. Like a time bomb.
Your fit bit says that when you are at home, your heart rate is consistently 90 or above. You feel depressed, but your doctor doesn’t want to prescribe you a stimulant for fear you have anxiety. That’s not what you have.
You’re suffering from spousal abuse.
Your friends know about it. Your family knows it, the only two people who are in denial about it are you and your spouse himself.
Well, he just loses his temper sometimes. He’s a kind man he only has a problem controlling his anger.
I see. Can you recall a time he “lost his temper” on you in a public place? What about in front of his family? Maybe in front of your family?
What about in front of his friends or anyone who would then KNOW how violent he is?
Your spouse saves his “loss of control” and “fits of rage” for only when he doesn’t have an audience. He keeps it, for the people in his home he’s trying so hard to control. Because that’s what his motive is: Control. He wants to control you, and control your children, and control anyone he feels he’s supposed to regulate.
Yes but he’s so sorry every time he acts that way. He always apologizes, he wants to change. He says he does; he just doesn’t know how. And he gets better sometimes.
I’m sure sometimes he’s the man with whom you fell in love. Sometimes he’s happy and cheerful and sweet. Sometimes he’s all the reasons you love him– until he isn’t.
He’s cycling. He’s cycling through a wheel of control he pushes to manipulate you. He’s excellent at giving you a glimpse of the man you think he is to keep you blind to the man he actually is. Because the man he is is the one you fear. The one from which you hide. The one you never know what to say to because you might set him off. That’s who he is. He keeps you blind by wearing his “good guy” mask long enough for you to believe that he’s returned. The Good Guy is the one you love. The good guy, unfortunately, is never permanent.
Read my Series How to Leave An Abusive Spouse.
You feel isolated. Your friends have lost patience with you. They tell you it must not be as bad as you say it is if you aren’t willing to leave him. But if you asked them to stand up to a monster, they’d be afraid too. The shadow he can cast over your self-esteem leaves you lost and looking for the self-assured girl you were before you let him in. You’ve taken him back so many times people start to believe him when he says that you’re the crazy, indecisive one.
I mean I must be, always leaving him and still coming back. Maybe that is who I am?
No, It’s not. You know it’s not. But who are you now? You’re not the girl you were, and you’re not the woman you want to be. Feeling trapped in this cage. Your friends who say things like “But maybe you set him off” don’t understand that EVERYTHING sets off a monster.
Today could be a great day, and tomorrow could be a good day and then for the reason that it’s Friday and the sun came up means that today you’re on his shit list and it’s going to be an awful day.
Even if you set out for it to be a good day, he’s going to make sure it’s a horrible day.
But he doesn’t hit me? I mean, sometimes I wonder if he will. He seems like he wants to, but he holds back.
See, in what you just said, proof that he doesn’t lose control. If someone loses control, they lose all control. They can’t hold back.
Well, there was that one time but he said it was an accident, he didn’t mean too.
Trust me, it wasn’t an accident, and he did mean too.
If only I could just be submissive. If only I could just stop making him mad.
But you know you can’t. You’ve tried. When he yells about the chores, you do them exactly as he says.
When he shouts about the grocery bill or the clothes you bought the kids, you stop spending.
When he questions why you took so long to get home because you had to stop for gas you explain but he doesn’t believe you.
So what now?! What am I suppose to do? Apparently, you’ve proven your point. I am living with an abusive spouse, but I don’t know what to do, I don’t know how to leave. What about my kids? How can I take them from him? He will get angry, what if he comes after them? What if he comes after me? He won’t help me. I have no money. I don’t know what to do. (Read How to CoParent With a Toxic Ex)
You are going to take a deep breath, and you are going to get angry because you don’t deserve this.
No one deserves to feel afraid in their own home.
You are going to eat that anger for fuel to find your way.
Find your way out.
Find an ally.
A parent, a friend, anyone who will help.
And then plan. Start planning even if you know he will count every dollar find a way to set aside $5 a week until you can get out.
Talk to someone. Talk to someone who knows what domestic violence is and what it looks like. Someone who helps you not feel crazy.
Someone who understands that what has happened to you, you did nothing to warrant.
Explain to your kids but don’t turn them against their father.
Explain in ways they can understand for now
“It’s best for everyone if mommy and daddy are apart.”
Later you can explain your side of the story better when they can comprehend and ask to hear it.
Unfortunately, they will likely have to learn who their father is for themselves as well.
And last but not least: LEARN.
Look for the red flags of abuse at the beginning of the relationship next time. Don’t ever settle for a partner like this, if not for you but your children ever again.
There is someone out there that would love nothing more than the chance to enjoy you in all the ways you are right and wrong and never abuse you. Someone who from you won’t want to hide. Someone who won’t make you feel crazy.
You won’t feel lost with that person; you’ll feel found.
Go, be found.
If you feel that you or someone you know is in a Domestic Violent situation, it’s critical that you seek help.
Here you will find a link to the YWCA website which may direct you to any one of the many YWCA safehouses worldwide.
Featured Photo Credit: Travis James