#Why I Stayed

A domestic violence advocate told me that the entire month of October, which is dedicated not only to Breast Cancer awareness, but also Domestic Violence awareness, should be spent explaining the answer to THE MOST COMMON QUESTION: “Why does she stay?”

The answers to that are as varied as snowflakes or grains of sand, and as plentiful, because there are so many reasons and so MUCH abuse, on all levels, that is either ignored or fully sanctioned by our society. The answers are important. Please look into #WhyIStayed and #WhyILeft. There is also a #WhyIAbuse, but I have seen no comments from abusers there.

I know many women who left, and a few who stayed. Hindsight is not 20/20 even though we hear the phrase. We have no idea what trajectory a life would take given alternate choices. So my question to myself: “Did I do the right thing, to stay….then to leave?”

My youngest daughter tells me that she remembers the anger in the air, but didn’t know what it was from. It has cost them. But would it have been better if it was out in the open, with open fighting (there was plenty of that, too). Would it have been better if I left, and they lived a dual life? Would it have been better if they had to cope with him alone? No way to know.

This is why I stayed:

#fear – of losing my kids, hurting my kids, creating greater instability for my kids, being financially unable to care for them, leaving them alone with their dad when he was “weird,” disappointing God, doing the wrong thing and regretting it

#hope #love  #faithfulness #long-suffering #denial #naiveté

Ephesians 5:21-33 (and many others)

This is why I left:

#fear – of losing my mind, taking my own life, wasting my life, failing my kids, not being there for my kids, God’s silence, suffering, desertion, ruin, being a fool.

#hope #love #faithfulness #wisdom #courage

Ephesians 5:1-7 (and many others)

For some who left, it was fairly clean and decisive, however traumatic. Many others have been re-abused and further abused by ex-spouse, court system, families, and faith communities. They are enduring things I think may have crushed me. I had it good, very good! When I hear their stories I recognize my greatest fears in staying AND leaving. For very few who stayed, there has been improvement and a decent to good relationship.

I think the word is out for those who care to listen: it is hard to stay – it is hard to leave – it is hard to be abused.

I think the word is out also that a hugely neglected issue is #WhyIAbuse.  Abusers don’t respond because they don’t believe they are abusive, are ashamed they are abusive, want to be secretly abusive, or don’t care because it doesn’t apply to them. True, but incomplete.

I have too many questions to list them all in one post. But here are my top three:

If so many men, women and children are victimized, predominantly by men, as a worldwide proven phenomena, why are we still so essentially impotent in addressing men who do violence – instead accepting male violence as normal, normative…you know, just the way it is? #WhyViolence

Best estimates of multiple studies indicate that around 25% of women are assaulted or abused, and that children privy to that violence are also affected, and that abuse by males is the single most significant health concern of women as a whole, worldwide, and that it is…you know, just the way it is. If that is the way it is, and has been, the misplaced responsibility a reality – why don’t all women take self-defense classes, promote one another financially, carry protective weapons, remove the status-builder of feminine companionship from men who are not respectful, teach each other the signs of abuse, and talk and act to strengthen and protect one another? Yes, I know this is almost like blaming the victim. I still want to know this, because I want to know how women can make each other stronger until abuse stops and we don’t need to anymore, how MEN and WOMEN can make each other stronger, period. #GotYourBack

I look at e-mails, Facebook and Twitter posts, “news” articles, memes and advertisements. What I see is a lot of persuasion without honesty, investigation or conscience. From people I otherwise respect very much I see promotion of dramatic half-truths or untruths that are hard to verify, but meanwhile polarize not clarify. POLARIZE NOT CLARIFY. (Men abuse…well, women abuse too…my statistics…your statistics…and it’s all the president’s fault…ya know?). Why are we so eager to choose sides at the expense of honesty that could yield solutions? That is grass-roots, bottom of the barrel, sneaky, subtle terrorism.  #GetReal

We share this world at this time. We are in this together. There is a lot of violence here. Does it now seem appropriate to ask, “Why do we stay?”

*****

I invite you to also visit:

9594015_orig

This Year’s Topic:
After decades of “awareness”, why is violence against women still so common?
We’re discussing what’s at the core of
A Culture of Contempt

 

 

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10 thoughts on “#Why I Stayed

  1. Abuse Questions | Redeemed! October 11, 2014 at 9:25 am Reply

    […] blogger friend recently challenged her readers with the question “Why did you stay?” and asserted that there is no […]

  2. Alaina Adams September 18, 2014 at 4:28 pm Reply

    Hey Friend, Your tweet on Twitter sent me to End the Silence, which opened up my floodgates to a long blog post. I posted a link on my post, to this post of yours: http://healingfromcrazy.wordpress.com/2014/09/18/my-domestic-abuse-why-i-stayed-and-why-i-left/

    I would say more in this comment but I am now drained.

    • Diane Walter September 18, 2014 at 8:39 pm Reply

      Very cool! Thanks! I read what you wrote, knew but was reminded of how much you’ve been through. You are amazing and are a great voice of realistic hope. Will promote you also. No wonder you’re drained! Sleep well!

  3. joepote01 September 18, 2014 at 3:09 pm Reply

    Why did I stay?

    That’s a very difficult question to answer…so many reasons…and all seemed to make sense at the time, based on what I knew, what I understood, what I believed to be true…

    Was it the best choice? No way to know. At this point, it is what it is…

    But…I wouldn’t advise anyone else to stay as long as I did. And that realization is telling in itself.

    Thank you, Diane, for continuing to focus on such a vital topic!

  4. theabilitytolove September 18, 2014 at 2:03 pm Reply

    Interesting read. I think this complicates things,and yet things are so complicated. I think we make them so. There are cultural undertones regarding men and women both. The ‘male’ and ‘female’ role. I see a lot of ‘cattiness’ among women, rather than a collective pulling together to advocate against abuse. Men often triangulate women in abusive relationships. The worst of them are chronically unfaithful, pitting the wife or girlfriend against the ‘other woman’. I see so much of this, it’s staggering. How can this very SIMPLE game of triangulation be avoided in that women make MEN responsible for infidelity, rather than blame the other woman and the other woman blaming his ‘main target’? This is one of the tactics I see used by men the most often among the survivors that I mentor.

    Men will become ‘patriotic’ in situations of war. Why don’t women become ‘patriotic’ within the war on women and the ass patting of abuse in our society? Women who are being cheated on, tend to approve of abuse in some ways, seemingly, because she herself feels threatened and that somehow, ‘that woman’ deserved it.

    I too was one of those women that stayed. Two times, too long in both. I had no self worth and come from a pathological home. It was all I knew, but once awareness came to be in my life, the sting of ‘competition’ with other women was gone and a desire to claim the ‘sistahood was born.

    I think the only way, we as women can conquer the ‘permissiveness’ I see regarding abuse, is to become collective. To fight together against it. But as long as the abuser is coddled, protected, excused and his abuse denied, I don’t see this as likely.

    Of course, I’m rambling here. Your post was very good and gives me much to think about.

    • Diane Walter September 18, 2014 at 4:11 pm Reply

      Good to see you! Glad you’re still writing – I’ve been out of this for a while. Yes, there is a lot to think about. I guess collective is a good word, but I would like to see all of us, men and women, acting as responsible individuals who address problems with compassion as co-inhabitants of this planet. I see it taking a million forms, from quietly telling a little girl she is clever or strong rather than defaulting to pretty (though true it may be) – to expressing confidence in a co-worker regarding appling for the bigger job, or raise. Helping each other learn healthy boundaries, to place responsibility…responsibly (as in you example about cheating). To help each other be as mature, secure, realistically equipped to take care of ourselves as possible. So we have more options to “just leave.” Like you identifying signs and behaviors to avoid in advance. By respecting other women, and respecting men, on their own merits aside from US and THEM, in concrete ways. Communicating a safer society for both. Maybe a billion miniscule offerings of health and safety empowering tools (to both genders, to victims and perpetrators) will make a teaspoon’s worth of difference.

      • theabilitytolove September 18, 2014 at 5:05 pm Reply

        And that’s where the problem is, respecting and loving one another. The country is so polarized right now.

        I can tell you what I think will need to happen before things change, but I shudder at the thought. American’s are very, very slow to change, denial is high, information is low….integrity, values and morality are fleeting….

        Personal boundaries? That’s lost too….there are a few people I know who understand what that means, but with all the exploiting and distraction, that goes out the window.

        With everyone missing the point. Something major to cause us ALL harm is going to have to happen for people to wake up and love, care and support one another. President Obama, in a speech several years ago said America is suffering from an empathy deficit….and from that, sooooooo many things are flared….

        Peace to you, Diane, Good to see you again too.

        • Diane Walter September 18, 2014 at 8:53 pm Reply

          You’re probably right…and most are slow to change. More of the stuff I’ve been reading about bias has to do with how we influence each other, good or bad, group and subliminal responses, even empathy deficit, etc. All we can do is what we can do. You have heard the thing about the starfish, right? The little boy on the beach putting beached starfish back into the sea. When someone remarked that he couldn’t save them all, and what did it matter. The little boy held up the starfish in his hand, and said “it matters to this starfish.” I will do my best doing what I do, just be, and it is what it is, enough or not. Peace back at you!

          • Alaina Adams September 20, 2014 at 9:06 am

            Diane, what you said: “I will do my best doing what I do, just be, and it is what it is, enough or not.” Beautiful!

          • Diane Walter September 20, 2014 at 9:32 am

            🙂

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