(I'm about a week late getting this published, but better late than never!)
The worst advice I ever received was, "It will only hurt for a second."
Ok, wait, I guess that really wouldn't be advice, now would it? :)
Seriously now, the Worst Advice I ever received was probably: "things will change for the better once you're married." While this is true in this, my third marriage, it was NOT true in my first marriage.
To my first husband, being married meant that I had signed ownership papers for him.
Instead of things getting better, and trust me, they really needed to get better, they got worse.
Instead of just getting shoved and pushed around like I had before the marriage, after, it went to out and out abuse.
Choking me? Wasn't a problem for him. In fact, I think in his head he considered it an accomplishment if he could turn me purple without actually making me pass out.
Hitting me? He was one of the best at doing it where it wouldn't leave a visible mark. If he slipped, and by accident left a mark, I was coached on how to play it off to everyone else.
Sexual abuse? Check. If I didn't want to do any of the weird shit he expected, it was because I was cheating on him.
Threats to my life? Got it covered. One of the last things he said to me was to always watch my back, as if he couldn't have me, he would ensure that neither would anyone else.
Threats on my children? Yep, he did that, too. In the end, he took off with them.
Emotional abuse? I don't have enough room to type it all out. Just suffice it to say that I still am recovering from a lot of it.
Controlling? I was told what to wear, how to wear and color my hair, how long a trip the grocery store should take. If I defied any of these, and more, I paid the price.
I know that a lot of my readers don't know a lot of the details of my first marriage. And trust me, even though I did this in kind of smart ass way, it's a part of me that will never fully go away. An abusive relationship is in no way a joke. Yes, 16 years later, I can make jokes about it. That's my way of dealing, and healing, and putting it all behind me.
I'm older now, and I wish I could go back to that 16 year old girl, and get her to listen to me. However, I know that's not possible, and I know she wouldn't have listened. You see, that girl had herself convinced of the same thing others would tell her - commit to it fully, and it will get better.
It didn't. In fact, from what I hear, it wasn't any better for his next wife, or the mistresses, or the girlfriends after that.
If you are in an abusive relationship, you know what is going on is wrong. No matter how many ways you try and justify it, it's not your fault, and it usually won't get better. There are always exceptions, but they are few and far between. You can not change them. They have to want to change themselves, and recondition their way of thinking. There is nothing you can do, until the abuser makes the decision, and takes the steps to make it better.
Know that there are options out there to get help. Know that you will survive once you leave. I won't sugar coat it, and tell you it will be easy. But to me, even with the stalking, and the break ins, my quality of life drastically improved. I felt I could breath, without fear of the next punch. If I didn't want to do the dishes, no one was there to degrade me nine different ways. Sex once again became something I could enjoy.
When I first thought about this topic, this was not where I intended it to go. I was going to write something light hearted, and not quite so personal. However, when I sat down and started typing, this is what came out. Maybe it was time. Hopefully, 16 years later, the healing is coming to a close for me.
For those of you that know someone in an abusive relationship, here is my advice: Don't tell them it's wrong. They already know that. Don't tell them they are stupid. They already feel that. Don't tell them it will get better, and then pretend like you don't know. It most likely won't. Don't tell them that if they, the victim, change, the abuse will stop. It won't. What can you do? Be there to listen, and encourage them - not to judge and condemn. Be the leaning post they need. When, or if, they finally take the step to leave, you will be needed more than you know.
Abusers can be a man or a woman. The victim can be a man or a woman. Abuse is something that doesn't know gender boundaries. An abused man should hold no more shame than an abused woman. Society needs to realize this. An abuser is an abuser, no matter their sex, or who their victims are.
An abused spouse loves the abuser. The abuser doesn't abuse all the time. There are good days. That is why so many of us stay, because we convince ourselves the good will eventually outweigh the bad. We stay because we convince ourselves it's best for the kids. We stay because we don't want to admit to the world that we are being abused, and are taking it. We stay because we don't know any different. We stay.
And then, one day, we leave. We lose a lot. We no longer have a home. We no longer have a "family". We no longer are told what to do and when to do it. We no longer have to cower. We learn to stand up for ourselves. We learn to live again.