What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story, email me. Today’s story is by Kari, who blogs at http://howardwedoing.blogspot.com/.
I want people to know that emotional abuse is just as hurtful and damaging to a family as physical abuse. Emotional abuse often leads to physical abuse. An abuser won’t likely change his/her behavior with counseling.
I was married to an abusive man. He was emotionally abusive. I have been judged by people when I say I left an abusive marriage. They ask if he hit me. No he didn’t hit me. He threw furniture. He threw macaroni and cheese across the kitchen at me, and dented the freezer with his fist. He told me he wanted to set me on fire and smell my burning flesh. He used profanity to describe how he felt about me, and he called me the B-word every.single.day. But, no, he didn’t hit me.
After my separation, I read a book that said emotional abuse is like an invisible whip. The wounds are still there, you just can’t see them. This description is so true. I was injured, but I could hide it.
I said earlier that I’ve been judge by people. People look at me as if I’m uneducated (I’m not), or I’m stupid (I’ve felt that way). I have two different lines of questions that come my way. One is “Why did you stay so long?” The other is “Didn’t you try to get counseling?” To answer the first question, I have a daughter with this man. He controlled so much of my life that I didn’t have the finances to leave and fight for custody. It didn’t take me long to figure that out though. I left when she was 3 months and 8 days old. The second question about counseling, yeah, I tried that. I begged for him to go with me. His answer was, “Counselors are crappy people with bad lives that listen to other peoples’ problems to make their own lives seem better.” Couples therapy wasn’t an option. I did finally go on my own, and that’s when I was connected with the resources to get out.
One in FOUR women in the United States are victims of domestic violence at some point in their lives. http://www.thehotline.org/get-educated/abuse-in-america/ This is a huge problem.
I want you to know that it takes a lot of courage and support to leave an abuser. Survivors of domestic abuse (even EMOTIONAL abuse) are victims. They should not be judged for doing what is right for their families. I know that my daughter will suffer repercussions by being raised by a single parent. I know that those effects will not be as damaging to her as the alternative.