Once upon a time there was a girl. She was a vibrant, beautiful girl. She was brilliant and fierce in her goals and ambition and docile and subservient in her love. She sacrificed on a regular basis for the “greater good” of the relationship. She moved away from her family and her friends to give the relationship the best chance for survival and the best opportunity to flourish. She had nothing when she arrived, but she had love and that was enough for her. Over time, though, the façade wore off. The mask of an abuser fell and he took it upon himself to assert the power and authority he had nowhere else in his life over the person who loved him. He talked down to her, yelled at her, told her she was worthless and that she would never amount to anything. He would isolate her by taking her phone away from her and not allowing her to have friends or leave the house. He would belittle her and degrade her until she started to believe the things he was saying about her. She would say she was sorry even though she had no idea what she had done wrong, hoping that would be enough to make him love her again. She would beg her abuser to come back because she couldn’t stand the idea of him thinking she had wronged him in some way. She knew she would get it right this time. She lived in fear of him while simultaneously living in fear that he would leave her. Imagine Stockholm Syndrome on steroids. This girl was starting to see the cracks, but he was cunning. He would reinforce those moments with positive behavior towards her. He would tell her he was sorry, that it wouldn’t happen anymore and that he loved her. He would ask for another chance and she would give it to him because she believed him. Things would be good for awhile and then the pattern of abuse would start all over again. He would get angry and lash out at her and on the story goes… Finally after a great deal of thinking and effort, she decided she had enough and she would finally tell someone about the private hell she was experiencing. They listened to her, but she downplayed the issues. She was embarrassed and humiliated that she allowed someone to treat her that way for so long. She couldn’t bear for someone to know how stupid she felt she was for believing it would stop and because she displayed no real sense of urgency the people she told didn’t believe it was that big of a deal. The abuse escalated. He was drinking heavily and every argument turned physical with either a push or a wrist grab. He would throw things over her head in an attempt to warn her that he would connect next time. She began to genuinely hate herself. She died a little inside every single time she had to look at herself in the mirror. Eventually, she believed that she was worth nothing and that if someone could treat her this way so often, perhaps the world was a better place without her in it. Her story is still being written and it could end a multitude of ways. Every hour, day, week and month is a blessing and a curse. She is constantly reminded of the importance of her existence by her family and friends, and how sad the world would be for them if she was no longer in it. At the same time, however, the skeletons call her name and beg her to join them in the dark. They whisper in her thoughts and tell her that she deserved every minute of pain she was delivered. They promise her that if she joins them, she will finally have peace. They work to tear her down every time she seems to make progress. This is not a gender specific issue and there are men that experience this personal hell as well and they deserve support, also. If you know someone experiencing domestic abuse, I encourage you to be kind to them. You never know how loud the skeletons are that day. If you are a victim, you are loved, you are important and there are people who will support you. Do not allow anyone to tell you otherwise, including yourself.
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