Many victims of domestic violence stay silent for many years before they do something about their situation, and it is because of many and varied reasons, none of which are easy and pleasant. Compiled by Eden Strong of Mama Mia, here are the eight truths domestic violence victims wish they could tell you.
1. We never saw it coming
“It came on so slowly that I didn’t notice he was manipulating me into becoming less of me, and more of a victim, until it was too late,” says Eden Strong. “By the time I realized what was going on, it had already been going on for far too long.”
2. We tried to get out
Eden said that once she finally realized what was happening, she tried to get out of the relationship. In fact she tried multiple times. Even if she wanted to get out, it still too time.
“Until you can understand the financial, legal, child custody-related, and emotional issues (as well as the very real physical threats) that tie victims to their abusers, please don’t think we all stayed because we were just too lazy to leave.”
3. Don’t push us
“We know you want to help us, but please don’t push us,” she says. “When my abuser and I finally split, kind-hearted people started pulling and pushing me in ten different directions in an effort to help ‘fix’ my life. But the thing is, all they did was smother me.”
4. Abuse comes in many forms
Just because you’re not physically hurt doesn’t mean you’re not being abuse. You can also suffer from abuse financially and emotionally. “Abuse comes in many forms and quite often involves rape, birth control sabotage, forced conception, and preventing a victim from obtaining reproductive medical care.”
5. We don’t want to know what YOU would’ve done differently
Eden says that there’s no possible way for you to know what it’s like being abused unless you yourself is in the situation. “Abuse comes in so many forms and with so many different aspects that it’s impossible to look at a situation and say you would’ve handled things differently.”
6. Abuse is never as straightforward as you think
Victims of abuse are often manipulated, degraded, broken, and trained to stay in the situations they’re in, says Eden.
“Abusers purposely tear us down just to make us think we can’t do any better than them, and once they have us broken and groveling at their feet for assurance that we’re worthy of being alive, they start to take over all aspects of our life.”
7. We often blame ourselves
“I carry around a lot of guilt for the things that happened to me and the role I played in the life I led, and I’m definitely not the only victim that feels like this. I don’t know why people feel the need to point out where a victim went ‘wrong,’ but they do and I don’t understand why.”
8. None of this was our fault
If there’s one thing people need to understand about domestic abuse is that it is never the victim’s fault; they have no power over the way an abuser chose to react.
“An abuser has a multitude of options in dealing with a person they’re angry with, but when the outlet they choose is abuse, that’s their choice — not the victim’s. If more people understood that, more victims would seek help.”
READ: The kinds of abuse in relationships
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