To be brave is not always to be a hero as it is put in those superhero movies. It is not always being strong as a soldier or the knight that goes on to save the “princess”. No! Being brave can mean to just SPEAK UP! Being brave can be just to say NO or STOP! Being brave means to LEAVE and “give up”. Being brave is to look for HELP! The bravery I’m talking about is one of the toughest ones. The bravery I’m talking about is to be strong enough to stop the ABUSE!
For some people this might seem obvious, but it is not always that easy. It is not always easy to SPEAK UP, to LEAVE, to SAY NO, to SAY STOP or to "simply" ask for someone's HELP. There are many reasons why we don’t act as we should and based on my own experience, we don’t speak up because of fear. Fear of losing what we thought we had. Fear of what others would think. Fear that others won’t believe you. Fear of being hurt even worse than before. Fear of not being able to continue on your own. Unfortunately, the fear is actually our worst enemy in critical situations.
Can you already tell that I am talking about of Domestic Violence? But what is Domestic Violence? Based on the definition provided by the United Nations it can be defined as “a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power or control over an intimate partner. Abuse is physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person” (read more: https://www.un.org/en/coronavirus/what-is-domestic-abuse).
Many people who are abused don’t even realize they are being abused. There are so many ways of abuse inside an intimate relationship that sometimes the red signs can be blurred and hard to recognize. For example, if your partner calls you 20 times in a row, and of course…not due to an emergency, this is an abusive behavior and is giving you a red flag that this person is attempting to control you. If your partner controls your money and the household money, and you don’t know anything about how the finances are being handled and if you ask you are denied access to that information, then you are being financially abused. If your partner forces you into having sex or even touches you when you said you don’t want to have sex (even if you are married), you are being sexually abused. If your partner insults you and calls you names or intimidates you in any way, then you are being abused. People tend to think that while arguing with a partner it is normal that they go ahead and throw out some insults during the argument, “just because we were mad at each other, and he/she was mad. It’s normal in an argument” but it is not OK. It is abuse and abuse starts little by little until it is built up and out of control.
As I was watching the Netflix Series “Maid” I began to remember my own experiences. I have experienced physical, sexual, emotional, and physiological abuse from some of my former partners (various partners, not only 1) and I chose this topic today not to put their dirty laundry out there, because I won’t say names here (or ever), but because I think I have been one of the lucky ones or maybe I was finally brave enough to finally SPEAK UP and said NO MORE! Still, I stayed in those relationships far too long because of fear. Fear of what my family would tell me, you know the “I told you so” phrase. Perhaps I was in love and was afraid to losing that "love", but hey…I lost the person I fell in love with the minute he abused me, so why stay? Fear that I couldn’t afford to live on my own at the time. Afraid of hurting other people. Afraid that others wouldn’t believe me. Afraid of simply being the victim.
When I was physically abused, I was VERY young and in love. I thought that just because he said he was sorry it was not going to happen again, but it did, multiple times. Until I said, NO MORE and finally decided to LEAVE that relationship. When I was even younger, I didn’t even know that I was sexually abused. I thought I was responsible because I exposed myself far too much and I blamed it on the hormones and the immaturity of the age. But I do remember saying “we’re not going all the way yet”, still he did and I was still a virgin. I have also been emotionally and psychologically abused by multiple partners. Controlled, insulted, belittled, isolated from friends and family, exposed to extreme and unjustified jealousy and possessiveness, intimidated, screamed at, manipulated, harassed on social media, and I even had my phone tracked. That last one I figured because this person would tell me things that I only spoke or wrote with a particular friend/person, and he would repeat them exactly and questioned me about the matter. Once I exchanged phone numbers with a male friend and he asked who X person was (with name and last name) without me even mentioning it to him. He wasn't even in the same state I was at the time. It was VERY obvious that he was tracking my phone. Still, I stayed too long in that and all of those abusive relationships.
I am not writing this Blog today to victimize myself. Not at all! I am here to let all of those women and men who are in relationships that are abusive and destructive, that it is possible to LEAVE. Some cases are more extreme than others, I know that I might not even have the capacity to understand those extreme cases, but there is always a solution to a problem, otherwise it wouldn’t be a problem. Go to therapy, look for help, research whatever you need to research in order to free yourself from the abuse. I do know it is scary. You might even fear for your life or your children's well being. If you feel trapped in a relationship, perhaps it is time to realize that you are not supposed to stay there. Love is not abusive. Love is not manipulative. Love is not to be forced.
Most of the people who are or have been in abusive relationships feel “less than” or insecure of their worth. I know, because I have felt like that. Actually, I think that because of my insecurities I was not able to love myself enough to see my worth, and therefore I accepted all that crap! It took me a long time to be able to see at least a glimpse of how much value I’ve always had as a woman and as a person. When you experience abuse from multiple partners or for many years, it becomes “normal” and therefore hard to identify. Besides, the thoughts that comes to mind are: "if he/she is not beating me up, it is not abuse" or "there's people in worse situations than me" or "I cannot not leave and have my children grow without their father". Well darling, some others might be in worse situations than you because they thought the same way and therefore, they stayed, or because they gave one too many chances, or because they justified their partner's actions. But you can break the cycle and change the route of your destination. The sooner the more chances you have to free yourself.
It takes time. It is scary. But being brave is scary. Even writing about this is scary for me, but it is my way to release and hopefully to help others empower themselves and take control of their lives. After being abused you forget to love the most important person in the World...YOURSELF, and therefore you accept others to abuse you. Not because you deserve it! Not because you are weak! Not because you are not worth it! It is because you are scared and the multiple abuses have killed the self-confidence and the self-love from within you. It might take a while to realize your worth and value, but once you do (and it should become your main goal to acquire that self-love and self-confidence), then you will love yourself so much that you won’t take more shit from anyone anymore!
If you are being abused in any way or suspect that a friend or family member is, PLEASE call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or go online: https://www.thehotline.org/ and ask for help, for information or guidance.