There has been much ado in the news over the Ray Rice scandal. The question at the forefront of everyone's mind is why his then girlfriend chose to stay in an an unhealthy and abusive relationship. The truth is, only women in that situation can truly understand why you choose to stay. Everyone has their own reasons and they are all different. My first marriage lasted ten years. It was riddled with abuse, both physical and mental. I chose to stay, until I didn't. There was no moment of enlightenment for me, I just couldn't do it anymore. 

     My ex and I had got pregnant with oldest child. We weren't married and I was very young. I had no real desire to be married and I loved being a mommy. Yet, I felt like my child needed his father. My ex and I had a good relationship, there were no warning signs prior to the marriage. He was sweet and kind. He doted on the baby and pressured me to make us a family. Finally, I caved. I thought it was the right choice. Then, things started to change. 
     Oldest was almost two when we married, and my ex's personality changed overnight. It seemed like the marriage certificate and the ring flipped a switch in him. I saw a side of him that I had never seen before. He would get angry at the most trivial things and fly off the handle. He would do things that I never thought were possible in a loving relationship. There were many days that I would wear shirts to cover up the bruises or not leave the house because the beating had been so bad. I became so insecure and scared that I was terrified to speak in my own home. He would get angry and take it out on me, and then he would leave for days. I would have no idea where he was or what he was doing. My ex would drain our bank accounts monthly because he had a gambling problem. It was a never ending cycle. If I mentioned the money or the times he disappeared, I would be hurt again, and then he would leave. It would all start over. 
     I don't remember a lot of it, well I do but I don't like to think about it. I remember how sad I was all the time. I remember how much I would hurt, but I would hide it because of my son. I felt helpless and I faulted myself for the choices I had made. We tried talking about it, counseling, endless self-help books, and nothing worked. I came from a family where divorce was not an option, so I stayed. 
     We eventually got pregnant with our second child who passed away shortly after birth. Things got worse. I was looking for comfort and someone to talk to, he found solace in other women. Once again, I was forced to stay silent. I put all of my effort into my son. It went on for the next three years like that, and then we got pregnant with middle child.
     I hoped that she would fix our broken family. We moved to a new home and tried to start over. For a while, things were wonderful. I was working and supporting our family, everything seemed perfect. As long as I stayed quiet. Slowly, it all began to collapse. The ex couldn't stay away from his old ways for too long. I began to find strange purchases and phone numbers on our statements. He would find reasons to start a fight and not come home for days. I knew that I needed to make a change, for myself and my children. My kids were going to grow up to think that what they were seeing was normal. My worst fear was that my son would turn out like his father, or my daughter would marry someone like him. I left. I couldn't stay anymore. It wasn't that simple , of course. There were may of huge fights between the ex and I, especially when he realized that I was actually done. 
     There was a time that I asked my ex why he kept doing the things he did, even though they hurt me. His answer was because he knew I would always take him back, no matter what. He was right, at the time. I would have done anything for him, and tolerated anything from him. As I grew older, and saw how dysfunctional our relationship was, I was much less tolerable. Then I got hit more. I realized I could not fix my ex. I was only his punching bag and his source of income. He did not love me, and if he did it was in a very unhealthy way. 
     My first marriage still affects me today. I am much less trusting with anyone. I am skeptical and cold to the point that it is unhealthy in relationships. I have a barrier when anyone tries to get close. I have had major surgery because of the damage done during the years of abuse. It was hell on my children and on the husband and I. Those ten years have reshaped our entire lives. It is something that will stay with me forever. 
     I stayed because I made excuses for my ex. I stayed because I thought I could make it better. I stayed because I thought I could love him enough to make all of the bad stop. I left because I finally saw how wrong I was. I left because I was tired of being a victim. I left because I wanted to know what normal felt like. I left because I didn't want my little girl to think this is what a relationship was supposed to look like. I left because my ex scared me, and I didn't want my children to grow up without a mother. 
     If you are in an abusive situation, only you can control it. There is always a way out, even if it doesn't seem like it at the time. What you are going through isn't normal or how it has to be. You don't have to stay and you can make it different. So, find a reason to leave. It doesn't have to be big or overly complicated. It just has to be better than any reason to stay.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                


09/14/2014 10:29pm

Very powerful post and so beautifully put. You express yourself so clearly and directly that you have great power in your presentation. As a man I feel ashamed of how I and other men have hurt other people, especially women, by what we have done and not done. We can't change our past lives, but we can learn from them for a new today and a new tomorrow. This kind of honesty that you express in this blog is the only place to start and to begin to take charge of our lives, both as women and men. Thanks again for your moving words!

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