I realized the amount of lying and hiding I was doing to others and finally to myself — Domestic Violence Survivor Maria (name changed)

As a single mother who was raised by a single mother, I lied to myself that the best thing to do was to keep my emotional and physical abuser around because my children deserved the chance of having a father, and I could help him over time become that. Of course I was wrong. It took me a long time to discover that I faked most my life to others but most importantly to myself.

I knew all of it was wrong, but I also felt guilty that if I broke the relationship off then I had failed as a mother because it was my duty to ensure my children were not left fatherless like I was, as it destroyed me in many ways. The more times the physical abuse happened, the stronger I felt because I could take it and I wouldn’t let it get the best of me. Take it, fight about it, move on. I can handle it well so I’m a bad ass. It was also hard to discover that this was wrong. All of everything was wrong.

Every thought was wrong, I eventually discovered.

I wish I could say I left. Instead, I just stopped caring, became depressed and didn’t care about myself in any way. I let everyone think of me in any way they wanted. It was him that wandered away first in many ways because I just didn’t care about any of it. He knew I was done with him, everyone knew. But I was tired. I didn’t care, come, go, hit, love, whatever. What did keep me going was, despite many mistakes, taking care of my daughters well and being a good Mom.

Even after our breakup, the emotional abuse lasted for 7 years privately and publicly. I was used to it, I participated in it. It was life, even with a new relationship, I let that old part stay in my life. It taught my new relationship that’s how partners are meant to be. I then taught another man it’s how I should and want to be treated. Well, it’s been 30 years since I left my ex finally, but I can’t say I’m proud that it took him also wanting to leave because of reasons such as I wasn’t young anymore and that he decided I was no good or fun. It’s taken me 30 years to say I’m still a survivor. I was surviving that whole time. Being a survivor does not always mean you were strong, smart, knowledgeable etc. I survived! I survived the whole ordeal, the hospital trips, the loneliness, the embarrassment, the secrets, the stuff you actually know but won’t admit to even yourself, the guilt of the things you did because of it, everything. I survived it. Yes, emotionally I’ve been a mess, and am dealing with it still, emotional disabilities, hardships with my daughters, being unable to make and keep friends, poor family relationships, guilt, suicidal thoughts, self hatred, on and on . BUT, I’m a survivor . My mental health is not ok. But I’m a survivor!! Yes, it’s in my thoughts daily about my life. But I’m a survivor.

Why did I survive?

I can’t say I really know except that I so desperately want to know that my adult daughters survived my ordeal. I want and need to know that at the end they are ok. That will be my final survivor moment. I say things this way, to hopefully encourage those women who can’t or don’t or are unable to take action for whatever reasons, so that they still have hope. Look to the future, have one thing in your life, even if it’s only in your mind, that keeps part of you… well you. No matter if it’s a child’s hope, a cherished item, a poem, a memory, whatever it is that let’s you keep a part of yourself mentally alive. There is power there. Even if you don’t think of it, acknowledge it or show it. It’s there and it creeps in time to time.

I had many breakdowns, stayed poor, had unhealthy relationships with everything, faked life, my daughters and I, had an unhealthy new spouse, finances, job, medications, health and friends. Nothing is how I emotionally or physically want it to be. BUT… there are moments of clarity, moments of happiness, moments of good memories, moments of knowing that my daughters have succeeded in something and moments where I have laughed with tears of joy. These are the things that make me realize I survived and in these moments I can say to myself: “This is why you survived , you may not know how you survived or saw it, noticed it or planned it. But it was in you, it took you so long, you may be out of the physical abuse but you still fight the battle of the emotional abuse of the past and present (in many different ways ) but you survived it.”

Don’t give up.

So, for all women who just can’t do what it takes during the worst part of your life with all kinds of abuse. Don’t give up. Something in you is there. Something even if you don’t know what yet, can keep you going. Just know that something is in there and hold on to that thought because that’s hope. I’m talking true personal survival. I can even say and feel that I hate life... but I’m surviving and that is SOMETHING. And NO ONE can take my self survival away. Someone or something can happen to take my life, but my life is mine and I will keep my moments of self survival. I hope that the their own self survival moments can lead women to become stronger and take action, to remove danger, to live for themselves... but, unfortunately it does not always happen.

So, for these women. Even if it takes years and years, if you are here, there is your survival. I understand that horrible situations that are unthinkable for many women and my story does not fit many circumstances. For those who lived a good part of life in an emotional fog and physical and emotional abuse and this is just another day. These are the women I’m speaking to. I lived with physical and emotional abuse issues from age 19 to 24. Then emotional abuse with same partner for another 7 years after that. Then for years after that with another relationship. Now I’m 54 and I’m dealing with the emotional abuse I give myself over to what happened and know how many times I emotionally challenged my children these past 10 years, even though I’m still a good Mom.

So, yes my fellow women, it’s hard, and it is always going to be, it may never go away… But you don’t have to stay there. My hope now in writing this without the details of different abuses by lovers, family and strangers, is that a person reading this will one day… when a moment comes to a woman who has no way out or does not realize there is a way out, or does not even realize they are “in” it, they have their own moment… when a smile or thought comes through that feels good and has them say “ there I am”. Please remember that moment. Keep that moment. Keep all your survival moments. There will come a time that this will help you more than you know. ❤️

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We Encourage is on a mission to empower women and girls under oppression. WE develops a customizable AI tool to help victims of domestic abuse.