When you are living the silent hell of domestic abuse, you want it to be obvious to others in public. You want someone, anyone to ask if you are okay. But people shun the obvious. They don’t want to be involved. They don’t want to know the true answer. Sometimes, even the doctor when he asks you if you are safe just makes a notation and doesn’t offer any relief or words.
People know he’s “odd.” Some people, like my father, just thought it was stress from owning his own company. My Dad owned his own company and never hit my mother but I guess he could sympathize with the stress. And I do have to say, my father, until we split, never knew how bad it was. I wanted it to be obvious. I wanted someone to read between the lines because I felt trapped and I felt alone and I felt like I was stuck in cement and I couldn’t move. I couldn’t get away and if I did get away, it would mean solitary visitation with our children and to me, it was very obvious that he couldn’t handle being alone with our children for very long and it scared me. I was concerned that his rights as a parent would outway the obvious emotional damage that those visitations could cause.
In public, in front of family and friends and the way he talked to me and them wasn’t it obvious that he liked to intimidate, threaten, control, isolate? Wasn’t it clear when he would ignore me, walk ahead of me, and say things to let people know how worthless I was that if he could do that in public, it had to be hell at home? It may have been. My circle of friends were not surprised when we split. They could see how he treated me and the children. His circle of friends and work associates and clients were shocked.
I do know for a lot of people, and I found this out later, that it was obvious I was strong. It was obvious I was a good mother and conscious of what my kids needed. It was obvious that I tried above and beyond what most woman would or should. What wasn’t so obvious to me was that once I chose to not save the marriage, the support and love that came from people who were not my closest friends but people who watched this happen for years in public had kind, supportive words and helped me with the kids when he couldn’t be reached or the kids did not want to go with him. People in their schools. Now that I had to work, would give my kid lunch money if he forgot it. Neighbors would make sure they got home okay because I was no longer able to be a stay at home mom. Acquaintances that gave me their number and said call if I can help you. I kept those numbers and used them in emergency situations when he could not be reached or I was not going to make it to school in time to pick them up.
I had many people ask me if they should stop going into his business. I always said, “he was not a good husband, but he is a hell of a business man. He will never sell you something you don’t need and he knows his business. He is honest. I would continue to go.” And I meant it wholeheartedly. What became obvious to others was my honesty and my need to end this marriage with has much grace as possible. I did not talk bad about him to others, I defended his position in his business and I did not defend myself with my children when he involved them for a long time.
You want it to be obvious to others. It is not. You need to be strong. You need to start speaking up. You need to find the help you need to get out. Then, you can tell your story. Some, obviously, will say telling my story is not ending the relationship with grace but I feel if you were willing to risk it all in public and in private, and if this is my story, then I have a right to tell it. I tell it for obvious reasons. To help others navigate their way out of abuse and not feel alone.
If you have any questions, you may comment or privately email me.