“Oh c’mon Deb, you never give a guy a chance,” my bestie Bri lectured on. “You have too many stipulations about dating before you let anyone into your life.”
I was managing an office for a PR firm when I met ‘him’. He’d drop by once a week to pick up work as a freelance editor, After five or six visits and a couple of flirty chats with ‘him’ he’d asked me out for dinner and I accepted,
‘He’ was somewhat handsome and at least gave some interesting conversation. He mentioned his failed marriage and almost had me feeling sorry for him. But as I am ever the skeptic, I always believed there are two sides to every story. It only took me a few more months to discover why he was most likely the ‘dumpee’.
We continued to date despite my nagging little doubts about things I couldn’t quite put my finger on, but my inner alarm system signaled something was amiss with this man, yet, my curiosity got the better of me. So I continued to date him. ‘His’ personality went from hot to cold – sometimes acting affectionate and sometimes downright mean – a streak I learned to fear.
Almost a year had passed and as so many of us do in life, I got complacent. I was in my early thirties when I had brainwashed myself into thinking this was the lot I was dealt, so I better make the best of it, instead of asking, Is this all there is? Don’t I deserve some of those tingly butterflies in my stomach when I’m kissed by the man I’m supposed to be loving?
Six more years went by I spent with ‘him’. In the earlier stages I had resolved myself to thinking that if I left, maybe I’d never get married. I settled for a roller coaster relationship. I thought I could ‘fix’ him. I thought nobody’s life is perfect. I learned to dance around his moods and fits of anger with great caution. After all, I’d made my choice. And like many other women in my situation – women who feel compelled to stay in toxic relationships, I thought I was stuck in that relationship for life.
It took a good few years until I realized myself, and with the constant badgering of friends and loved ones that I became a shadow of my former self. I became quiet, complacent, and had lost any self-esteem I’d worked so hard my whole life to build by allowing a man to demean, threaten and possess me. I would spend the last three years of that relationship making plans to get out of it. But finally I was free. It wasn’t as easy as just picking up and leaving as there became financial issues involved and threats I had to weigh out – would he make good on his word that if I tried to leave he’d make sure that nobody else would have me?
After my escape, I never felt fully free to talk about what went on in that relationship. When I did manage to escape, I was stalked for another two years. That feeling of being watched never goes away.
Many women in abusive relationships stay because they don’t see any alternatives, Some are reliant on their abuser’s financial aid and trade off freedom for captivity because of it. Some women are made to feel so worthless that they feel they are almost deserving of their situation. There are many reasons why women can’t seem to walk away, or run for their lives from toxic relationships. But there is always a way. When I finally got away, the concerns about my financial situation and how I was going to get by with the bills became the size of a raindrop when I compared it to how it felt to be alive and free. Doors do open. People who care will stand by and help us. There are also government programs and shelters to help women in these situations.
Red Flags to Pay Attention to Which are Unacceptable for a Healthy Relationship:
- Being demeaned
- Threats or blackmail
- Bossing around – making all the decisions, uncompromising
- Raising a hand to you (even once is a flag of things to come)
- No regard for your feelings or thoughts
- Telling you what you can and cannot do
- Making you feel insignificant
- Criticizes everything you do
- Apologizes, cries, begs you not leave and after, continues to do all of the above
There is absolutely no logical reason for remaining in an abusive relationship no matter what we think we’re sacrificing if we leave. The only sacrifice is ourselves when we stay.- D.G. Kaye
Last month Sally Cronin put up a lovely post in honor of International Women’s Day. I highly recommend this read. And besides the article itself, there is much to take in from the comments as well. Please visit Sally’s post by clicking the link below.
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