I was talking to a patient last night at work who is in a domestic situation. Verbal and emotional abuse, manipulation. And cheating. He's classic, tells her she should be grateful. I've heard those same things myself. He's not violent physically so she's not seeing it for what it is, abuse.
She was having trouble talking about what's going on at home, trying to justify his actions. She's a smart girl, putting herself through college. Had her first young like I did. I saw too much of myself in her. And I'm sure she feels stuck having 3 kids (two older and one toddler) to take care of, the youngest being his. I could practically see it. I shared briefly my situation and she opened up a ton more about hers. I can see her reluctance to leave. She's in the cycle and she can't see clearly yet. I think this one will, I think she'll get out. I just wish it was ethical to just hug a patient and tell her she can do this and she's stronger than she thinks she is. Well, I did tell her that part. And told her abuse isn't always physical. And just because it's not as bad as someone else's situation doesn't make what he's doing ok either.
Women in the cycle of abuse have tons of ways to justify. He's not always like that. He's having a bad day. He's not as bad as my friend/sister/random strangers husband. The kids need him. There's a million excuses to stay.
I have good family support, but they can only do so much. And most of us lie to our families for so long to make it not seem so bad. Leaving an abusive situation takes more strength and determination than most people realize. And I left it when I was barely able to walk. And the first time I left him he seemed like he got his life together and I took him back. I hadn't fully broken free from the cycle. I see that now. And this girl hasn't either. She is strong, and she is smart, and seems pretty damn amazing if you ask me in the brief time I was able to spend with her. She realizes the relationship is not good. I knew mine was toxic. I feel very hopeful for her.
As I was leaving her room she said "You seem so strong". I told her that I wasn't strong because I want to be, but because I have to be.
I spent years with an emotionally absent husband in a sexless marriage then spent a couple more with a controlling, manipulative narcissist. I've only over the last two years really learned what healthy relationships are and are not thanks to a great awesome group of ladies online. I actually thought my emotionally absent husband and I had a good marriage... Maybe you ladies read my blog, maybe you don't, but thank you all so much. You have no idea how much even just reading helped me. And I hope that as I meet patients in a situation like I was in I can give them the same encouragement and hope for a good future that I now have. I am happy with my life and I just want the same for these girls (and guys as well) who have yet to break free.