by Carol Graham
Bruised. Battered. Broken. Why did I stay? Why does anyone stay? Why does it require such great courage to leave a situation that was once a safe haven?
"If you leave me, I'll have nothing left to live for...." He knows which guilt button to push. Each time you realize you can no longer exist in the relationship those words resonate bringing another stage of guilt mixed with a dash of fear.
Playing the sympathy card is a common tactic used by an abuser to control you - the abused. Terrified he would take his own life if you leave, the guilt would be worse than your current state. So you stay.
When I finally was brave enough to leave, every scenario I played in my head did not include what actually happened. He had me kidnaped, gang-raped and left for dead by my attackers. Even this did not satisfy his demented mind and anger over the possibility of losing control he held the photographs that my attackers took of me as ransom.
"Pay up or the pictures will be sent to your aging father." I paid - a lot. But it wasn't enough. The pictures were sent, along with a letter to my dad that I was a slut. What possible satisfaction could he realize from that delusional act?
Many women choose to stay not knowing what their spouse is capable of and too afraid to take the risk. Fear of the unknown trumps logic.
Although abuse is a form of control, it is essentially a form of cowardice. Most bullies are afraid and will push until they lose their grip.
At what point can a woman break away? Each situation is unique, but the common thread is fear requiring her to have a strong support system around her. Often the abuser has charmed friends and family into believing the breakdown of the relationship is her fault. She is alone.
On my show, I have interviewed many women in this situation who want to believe the lies and promises she regularly hears - "I'm sorry. It will never happen again."
Each time, her resistance levels fall until she is weakened from the battle and wonder if it is worth the fight. She decides it isn't until something happens that gives her the adrenaline rush she needs to pole vault herself out of the situation. It charges her with new strength and she takes over your destiny. She recognizes that what has happened to her does not define who she is.
She begins to build herself up and does not allow the negativity to gain power over her. She feeds her mind with positive input until she can walk away with her head held high prepared to face her attacker and stand her ground.
Through sheer tenacity many women, like me, are determined to change their lives and make their destiny become a reality. Determination reaps success.
May/June - 2018
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2010 Jan/Feb issue
Tammy Erickson, Olympic Medalist
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