You’ve seen it a thousand times before. Those motivational pieces about getting out of an abusive relationship. They’re touching. They’re helpful. They all say the same thing:
“You can leave. You should leave. You deserve more than this. You arebetter than this.”
And the articles are right. They are all right. Don’t think that anything I say in this will discount those truths or the nightmare that is an abusive relationship. I’m just saying that there are a few parts of the story that have been left out.
No one tells you how it feels after the big moment. After you’ve left and you’re on your own. You’re strong, you’re empowered, and you can handle anything. But now what?
Here’s what happens next:
You will see the look in your father’s eyes when you tell him what happened. You’ll watch his heart break in front of you as he realizes that, despite his best efforts, he couldn’t protect you from the evil in another man.
You will- at some point- be ashamed of yourself. For who you were and how you acted in that relationship. For letting someone do that to you. Most of all for being ‘that girl’.
‘That girl’ is the one who sees the look of pity in the eyes of nearly everyone she knows, and some people that she doesn’t. ‘That girl’ was stupid enough to believe that he wouldn’t do it again. That it was an accident, and he didn’t really mean it. You’ll be ‘that girl’, and for a while, everyone that looks you in the eyes will do so with pity.
When you eventually find someone that you trust enough to let in to your heart, you realize that you will have to find a way to tell them. Tell them that at one point in your life, someone else controlled your every move, your every thought. They may want to hear every soul-crushing detail. And you will have to relive it all over again.
The people you love will try to understand, but they’ll still forget the little things. They’ll forget that they can’t slam the door, can’t touch your face- definitely can’t touch your face. Everyone around you will forget and then get confused when you jump at something they did.
Finally, of all the things that you need to know about leaving your abuser, this is the most vital: you will finally be happy. Truly happy. Not happy like you were when things were good with him, but happy with yourself. After fighting through abuse and everything that comes with it, you will end up happier and stronger than you ever realized possible. And if for no other reason than that, everything else will have been worth it. Take strength in knowing that you can come back from anything.
While I have struggled- and still struggle- with the repercussions of an abusive relationship, I know that I couldn’t be where I am today without the saving grace of Jesus Christ. My faith is what got me out of that relationship and it is what I lean on still to remind me that love is a lot of things, but it is never cruel. Any form of real love should try to emulate the way that Jesus loved us, and that means being kind, gentle, and slow to anger.
Since leaving, I’ve found the man of my dreams who has helped me work through some of the anxieties I still hold because of my history of abuse. He was the main reason I chose to write this piece, and he guides me closer to Christ everyday with his love.
For anyone dealing with abuse, please reach out. Know that you are loved beyond measure by our King and Creator, and there are people here to help. You can receive help through the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE.
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