Once I realized that I was definitely in an abusive relationship my next set of questions were…
Why did I stay? How could I have become so attached? Why didn’t I see the signs? When did the relationship take a turn for the worse?
Instead of answering each one of these questions in this post I will do them individually. I don’t want to rush through information that may be helpful to other people.
The question addressed in this post is Why did I stay?
“Why didn’t you just leave?”
This is one of the most popular question that people will have asked you and that you will ask yourself. Unfortunately, no matter how much you talk to people about your situation, they’ll never fully understand for the life of them why you remained. My friends are great and wonderful people. Even though I was isolated from them for years, whenever I was able to reach out they didn’t turn away from me. Solid friendships are hard to come by and I am lucky enough to have several of these wonderful ladies in my life. I vented to them whenever I could and they would try to convince me that I needed to leave. I felt like a burden to them and that my venting was an annoyance. Sometimes though you just need someone to talk to and be there for you while you work through the difficult times. They were there.
There were many reasons I felt I couldn’t leave. The biggest probably was the imbalance of power. I had no say over anything. I have to fight tooth and nail in decisions that should have only been mine to make. Decisions such getting the degree I wanted and being able to attend a class without having to go through a blocked door or neck holds. I missed a final one time and a lot of classes because he did not want me going for my MLS. Why you ask? Well the college was in another borough from where we lived. It used to take me nearly 3 hours using public transportation to get there and back. He felt that I couldn’t be trusted to go to classes. He thought that I would sneak off and hang out with my friends that he did not like. Bottom line… it was too far away for him to control where I was. Where was I you ask when I went to school? In my classes! I wanted to be a librarian so badly. He wanted me to go to the local college we went to and get a master’s in education. That just isn’t my calling. Someday I will be sitting behind a reference desk or back to being buried under a pile of books to be cataloged. That dream will come true!
The second biggest reason were his threats. He had the passwords to all my social media accounts, emails, everything. If I changed it he would yell until I gave him the new ones. He would read everything to make sure I wasn’t talking about him. He even sent emails one time pretending to be me. One of his biggest threats was to write emails to my bosses and tell them that I quit my job; as if making me late for work or calling out all the time for him wasn’t borderline me losing it to begin with. So I stayed. I loved my job and I didn’t want to lose it.
I suppose this also ties into the imbalance of power. He took responsibility for my getting the job so he felt he had control over whether or not I could keep it. He received the email from the department secretary saying that the library was hiring. I didn’t receive this message because she had my email address wrong. Therefore, he believed if it were not for him I wouldn’t have the job so I should be thankful. You ever heard that phrase “I brought you into this world I can take you out?” Well that is how he felt. A week after I got the job, for reasons I can’t currently remember, he had me pinned to the floor under his knees with a pair of scissors pointing at my stomach demanding I quit. I refused and braced for impact but he luckily got off me.
In my mind I thought that getting this job would help ease my situation but it was only part time. The money was not close to being good enough and he reminded me every chance he got. I had to beg, borrow, and steal from my parents because it was ME who wasn’t carrying MY weight and therefore it was MY fault we needed money and MY responsibility to acquire more of it. This also meant that I was responsible for all of the housework and nothing was ever good enough for him. I felt like an indentured servant.
In the end, I basically felt that the only way I was going to get out was him deciding let me go on his own. This is what eventually happened and I suspect it was because he met another woman. My walking out was not going to work. One time he even helped me pack up my father’s car to leave only to come out at 3 in the morning looking for me to come back. I hung out in the car because I knew it wasn’t real. Just a game. A tease. That is why I sat in my aunt’s house confused and numb. It took a long time to feel relaxed. Not feel guilty for no longer living with him. Why even feel guilty? Right because he made me feel like I was burdening him with the expenses. See my post here for that rant.
I’ll end it here. Writing is a funny thing though. The whole reason I stalled so much last year in starting the process was due to my fear of not having anything to say. The more I write the easier it gets and the more I remember. I could probably continue this post for thousands of more words. At this point they are just flowing from my fingers. I highly recommend writing to heal it is wonderful. It is good to evaluate the reasons for your actions and non-actions. You survived it and self-exploration will help you avoid these situations again. It helped me. More on that when I get to emotional abuse!