On Staying or Leaving Abusive Relationships

These are excerpts from a powerful essay about domestic abuse.

How many times did I find myself on his bathroom floor cowering beneath him, feeling the hot spit land on me as he screamed? Stop crying like a baby. You’re crazy. No one else would put up with you. …

How many times did I crawl into that bed, rather than into a cab, and wake up with his arms around me, telling me that I brought it out in him? He wasn’t like this. I made him like this. I needed to change the way I approached him about these things. Be less accusatory. If I just softened my approach, it would allow him to react differently. How many times did I adjust my approach before I realized the only way to avoid the abuse was not to bring it up at all? But he never hit me. …

How could I explain to someone that I believed it was partly my fault, even though I was embarrassed to hear those beaten woman’s words spoken from my lips. No one really understood. No one knew him like I did. It was my job to protect him from the truth of what he did to me. I couldn’t let them think he was a monster. I wouldn’t tell anyone. I was entirely alone. But he never hit me. …

When it was over, I wasn’t permitted to mourn him. No one could understand how love, hate, fear and comfort could coexist simultaneously. They could not understand that in addition to my abuser, I also lost my confidant, the person to make dinner with, the person to watch movies with on a rainy Sunday, the person to laugh with, the person who knew me. I lost my companion. How can you explain to someone that the abuse was only a part of who he was? How do you explain that to yourself?

–Reut Amit, “He Never Hit Me

Verbal and emotional abuse is so insidious. It takes strength to decide such treatment is unacceptable and leave the relationship. It takes love for one’s self, a belief in one’s own dignity and worth, to leave and learn to tolerate living alone. It takes courage to quit what is known and safe, especially if one doesn’t have skills for a job that earns a living wage. Being single is often lonely. Still, I preferred the loneliness to what I witnessed growing up.

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