domestic violence | “Why didn’t you leave?”

domestic violence | “Why didn’t you leave?”

Guest article by: Bent

“Why didn’t you leave?”

This is probably the most asked question when someone talks about the destructive and often abusive relationship they’ve been in for months, years, and sometimes decades.

Why do people ask this question? Why didn’t I leave sooner? I think it has everything to do with the fact that a lot of people—myself included, before it happened to me—didn’t know what domestic violence really looked like.

Misconception of domestic violence

What is domestic violence? I think years ago I would have answered this question in complete ignorance with: “When a man beats his wife.” It was honestly the picture I had of domestic violence. A woman is suddenly punched in the face by her husband in an argument that gets out of control and is left with big black eyes. I don’t know why this was my picture. Maybe you read it that way in books? Maybe you saw him on TV?

In any case, it was a very simplistic picture: one that assumes a sudden physical outbreak of violence, one that does not take into account the gradual onset, one that does not take into account psychological terror, and one that also wrongly assumes that the woman is automatically the victim and the man is the perpetrator.

It was a picture with flaws. It basically turned out to be an image that for years stood in the way of my ability to see my daily reality.

Love bombing

I met my husband through the grapevine. He was 12 years older than me, had smooth conversation and was good with women. It was very interesting to me then as a little girl. loved it. We got into a relationship and he introduced me to his friends as his “dream woman”. He is caring and romantic. He cooked for me, lit candles, wrote sweet notes, and sometimes even brought me breakfast in bed. He was there for me when I needed him and was protective. I have never felt so special and loved.

‘You are disappointing’

He wanted to live together after a few months. I found it quickly, but moved in with him anyway. We did nice things, but soon cracks appeared and a period of pointing and criticism began. I had to change my clothes, wear less makeup, laugh less at his friends’ jokes, and stop greeting my friends with three kisses. He said he didn’t like my body and that my teeth weren’t white enough. I also didn’t do the housework as I wanted. A few months later he even gave the summary: “You are disappointing.”

Try a little harder

I felt insecure and at the same time responsible for the image he had of me. The man who held me in high esteem, who praised me so much, and who loved me so much, did so. I Know how to disappoint. I have relapsed. I was so sad and at the same time so fond of him that I did everything in my power to restore his image of me. I looked in the mirror. I had a good figure and naturally white teeth, so i couldn’t really pass this criticism on. I began to think that my behavior could really be different, that I would be more considerate to him, that giving three kisses to an acquaintance was not pleasant to him either, and I could also learn to iron a little better. I did my best to meet his expectations. The bar was high, but like a good jumping dog, I managed to hit that bar. happy. I was able to relax again. You did a good job.

However, the bar did not stay at the same height for long. The moment I tapped the bar again, it immediately raised it again. And a little higher. And a little higher. I did my best, but it just wasn’t good enough. I hadn’t closed the gap on the left before I dropped another stitch on the right. I had a constant feeling of failure.

There were also good periods in the meantime, but the feeling of responsibility and super-preparation seeped through my skin and didn’t go away. And sure enough, I can’t relax in that either. Expectations were high. The consequences of failure were unbearable for me. Then the connection would end, I was no more, I would hear it endlessly or I would be ignored. All I wanted was to avoid that and feel “together” with him. The good stages that presented themselves in between were proof to me that we can still make it right together. Only if it doesn’t cause a problem. But I should have worked harder to avoid this accusation.

push the limits

It was a two-sided relationship: walking on eggshells on the one hand, doing interesting things on the other, building a life together, getting married and starting a family. The moment we were expecting a baby, he became more critical and started pushing the boundaries to accommodate me. I doubt the feeling that “she won’t leave me now anyway.” He went from criticizing and directing to swearing sometimes, to a lot of swearing, to a lot of swearing. “Bitch cunt”. ‘whore.’ I could tell him I didn’t like it, but then he did it right. It was like being in the car: if I said I “liked that song on the radio,” he immediately switched the station, and if I said “I liked that song on the radio,” he’d turn the volume up even higher. I made it worse by pointing out what I liked and didn’t like. I survived better by not saying anything about it. I also had the child’s responsibility to keep things calm. I swallowed and was silent.

Came – over a very long time – All It gradually includes some physical violence. Sometimes there was pushing, some pulling, pulling my hair or pinning me against the wall. No, none of that is cute, but I didn’t get beat up, did I? You may have been talking or arguing for a long time. You don’t leave to push or pull, right? I thought to myself, “There is something everywhere.” I became a rock at setting the record straight and focusing on the good. It worked so well that I was able to deny the negative aspects of our relationship. on the surface after that. Because somewhere deep down I knew it wasn’t right.

No more denial

The balance between good and bad moments is becoming more and more lost. The violence increased psychologically, verbally and physically. Where in the past an entire discussion was necessary to a small outburst of violence, now giving my opinion is sufficient for serious physical violence. No, she still hasn’t been punched in the face, but she is pinched, punched on the arms, banged into the wall, knocked on the floor, food thrown all over me. I was not allowed to cry. I wasn’t allowed to talk about it either. It wasn’t until the days afterward that I said “it was my fault” or “I remembered it wrong” or “it didn’t happen”. I doubted. mostly. Despite the bruises. ‘Am I crazy? I’m not making this up, am I? I thought so sometimes. Sometimes I talk about it. But this also made the situation worse. – You’re unstable as hell. You are hypersensitive. It’s time to get help,” he advised.

It was only in the last six months of our relationship that I realized I was a victim of domestic violence. My doctor referred me to her. And even though I’ve been at it for years, I was really shocked by this conclusion. What I said was: “But I’ve never been punched in the face.” “I am smart and highly educated” was what I was thinking. As if that had anything to do with it.

I started gathering information and found the Het Verdwenen Self Foundation website. Everything I read there aroused much recognition in me. Everything started to fall into place. The information I found there helped me realize what I got. It also helped me stand my ground when my ex wanted to make me suspicious again. I wasn’t crazy, it wasn’t my fault.

The shame was too great to tell anyone. Dreading all the advice too, because “you have to let it go” was something I could have expected, but I wasn’t ready to hear it yet. I also knew I had to leave. But I couldn’t. I wasn’t ready to take the lead. I wasn’t prepared for all the misery that was going to happen. I wasn’t ready to raise our child with divorced parents. I wasn’t convinced I wasn’t the problem.

I withdrew and vowed not to do anything that might trigger violence: don’t overstate my opinion, don’t talk too much, don’t get involved in the discussion. However, it did not stop. The violence did not subside. It just got worse. In the end, it took me “only” some serious incidents of physical violence to realize that no word, sound, or attitude on my part could turn the tide. I wasn’t the problem. And then I was ready to leave: not even to myself at first, but to our 8-month-old who I didn’t want to grow up like that.

Why didn’t I leave

Outsiders often only hear about the recent incident. I often hear people say, “If my partner hits me once, I’m gone.” Yeah, maybe I am too, if I’m still being honest, if my compass is still working right, if I don’t get confused, if I’m still close to myself, if that blow comes out of nowhere come, if it wasn’t for that blow any other date. But domestic violence (mostly) doesn’t work that way.

So…

Why didn’t I leave?

Because I was walking around with a false image of domestic violence. Because for a long time I did not feel like a victim of domestic violence. Because violence creeps in gradually. Because the “shock” of a punch in the face does not come. Because there too All Lots of psychological abuse. Because I started to doubt my reality. Because I thought it was my fault. Because the relationship wasn’t all doom and gloom. Because I wanted to keep my family together. Because I was afraid of the hole I had to jump into. Because anomaly has become normal.

It’s the first time I write about my past. I am writing this blog because I believe it is important for as many people as possible to understand what domestic violence looks like. I hope that people who have come across or happened to find a piece of appreciation and appreciation in my story. I would like to refer victims who are looking for more information about psychological violence to Vanished Self website. As far as I’m concerned, the correct information can be found right here in the information jungle. In addition to the website, the books written by Iris Koops are very helpful and Het Verdwenen Eigen has set up a network of 30 dedicated professionals, so that they can connect victims with a suitable therapist. In addition, this institution offers targeted information and training for professionals.

I also hope that strangers understand what domestic violence looks like so that they can better anticipate and respond to it. It is my hope that professionals can better understand the dynamics of domestic violence and not only focus on tangible and visible physical violence, but will pay special attention to unseen suffering, psychological violence, coercive control, and intimate terror.

Domestic violence is not just a blow in the face.

the love,
Benth

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