Domestic abuse is not limited to being physically beaten. I need to make that clear from the start because as hard as it is to believe, there are some people out there who are of the belief that the effects of mental/emotional and hidden verbal abuse are not as debilitating. They don’t believe that those things, which aren’t visible to the naked eye, can land you in the hospital just like their physical counterpart can. They can and they do.
It is true that emotional abuse is often more insidious than physical abuse but believe that in the end, it can kill just the same. Being told that you’re worthless, that you’re a burden and that you can’t do anything right eventually strikes a harder blow than a fist. Why? Because your self-esteem, your self-confidence, your spirit can only take so many shots before they begin to crack. Its like being in the boxing ring. The first few punches aren’t always the ones that take you down. It’s the repeated pounding that brings you to your knees. That’s how it happened for me.
For many years, I gave back just as good as I took. I matched ridiculously horrid words with him. I stooped to a level of ignorance that I never would have imagined. The thing about that is I’m extremely quick-witted so it became a game. The truth, though, is no matter how funny I was in my vicious counter-attacks, I was still wounded in the end. Wounded or not, I never went down without a fight. It was that way in the beginning and for many years to follow. Eventually, he wore me down.
In 2005, we agreed that I would stay home with our son and while I’ll never regret being there for my son, I regret that in that effort, I lost my independence. I lost myself to a man who, in hindsight, didn’t have anyone’s best interest at heart except his own. At the time it was happening, I didn’t know the term “gaslighting” but it would turn out to be his weapon of choice. Well, that wasn’t the only one, but man, he loved controlling that money! I will never forget asking him for $25 to get my nails done, being given a flat-out “no”, but then finding out that he had “loaned” a female co-worker $2500. His rational? Men used to help his mom that way when he was growing up. The details of this foolishness will be in my book but trust me when I tell you that I took the neck-popping to an entirely new level in the days following my finding out about it.
Shortly before I found out the meaning of gaslighting, I had seen ads and promos with Kerry Washington supporting the Purple Purse project. It was not long after my divorce, and to be honest, I was still in a daze and didn’t care to look into it. One day, though, I decided to take a little look and all I could do was cry because I had felt every bit of what the campaign is all about. My wounds were still open.
I’ve never, ever been considered weak in any sense of the word. Not by anyone who know me personally, not by anyone who has interacted with me on social media sites. A lot of people are under the impression that domestic abuse victims are weak, uneducated or some other things that just aren’t true. I’m none of those things. I hold a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management (which I obtained in 3.5 years) and a certificate in Paralegal Studies. This summer, I will begin work on my Master of Art in Teaching and after that I will get my Master of Education degree. My goal is to teach in one of the underprivileged schools here in Louisiana so that those children are afforded the same opportunity as those in more affluent areas. I have a great sense of humor (ask anybody) and I am EXCELLENT at helping other people. The thing is, just like with a lot of other women, I allowed my dedication to the wrong person to side-swipe the other areas in my life.
Just know that the day the abuse stops is the day you make it stop. You’re not obligated, for one second of one minute to stay in a relationship that is not nourishing and uplifting. Your mental state is not worth it. No one’s love is worth the damage of abuse.