Like a Slow Leak

Many people have asked why my mother stayed with an alcoholic, abusive man, especially when she had two young daughters. I cannot answer for her, but I can explain what happens. Living with an abusive person is not always apparent at first. Everyone puts their best foot forward in the beginning of a relationship. I’m sure there are subtle signs, but how often do we see them or pay attention to them when we are falling in love? I am not saying this is an excuse, but it begins like a slow leak in a boat. At first, you don’t notice. By the time you are busy bailing, it’s too late. The abusive partner is smart. While slowly becoming more abusive, he is also making the abused feel stupid, helpless, incomplete…etc. As he whittles down a person’s self confidence and self worth, he increases the control and the abuse. By the time a woman “finds” herself in an abusive relationship, she doesn’t feel she can be on her own. Couple that with a feeling of more abusive if she tries to stick up for herself, or leave. My mother often said that she feared for her life, if she left. I can understand all of this as an adult. As a child, I would have gladly killed him myself, in self-defense and been rid of him (that’s me and my black and white way of thinking). It is not easy. I understand it, yet it is just more excuses. If you want out of a relationship bad enough, you’ll find a way to make it work. Making excuses is easy. Finding the courage, sometimes losing everything, is hard. A parent must do it for their children, if they can’t do it for themselves. Otherwise, the child is left floundering, hating his life, his parents…etc. The child is the one with the least amount of control, yet suffers the most.

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