Sunday, January 27, 2013

WHY DO VICTIMS OF ABUSE STAY IN ABUSIVE SITUATIONS? #INCEST #CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE


E.L. Farris, writer of just released book, RIPPLE, recently wrote in a blog post that she thought it selfish of a writer not to share some of a book she was working on. I thought about that and thought "Sure, why not?" So tonight I share an excerpt from my upcoming book, "COMING OUT FROM UNDER" which addresses something we victims of incest know all about and will never understand, anymore than those who ask the question: "Why do victims of abuse stay in abusive situations?"

One of the things most often asked of women in an abusive situation is how and why did you put up with it for so long? If you hated it so much, if your life was so bad, why didn't you just get the hell out of there? 

The answer to that is there isn't any one reason. There are hundreds of little reasons, the biggest being fear: fear of the abuser, fear of being alone, fear of not having necessary survival skills, fear of non-acceptance by others, and fear that the hell you know may be better than the hell you'll find out there. You become resigned, accepting that this is your lot in life. You know that if you play by his rules and don't make waves, you get by ... that he'll even be nice to you. You convince yourself that it's not really so bad after all: there's a roof over your head, food to eat, T.V. for entertainment, and daydreams to escape into when the going gets rough. He's convinced you the world out there is a horrible place and you are so lucky to have him to protect you. So you get along by going along.

But every once in a while, the compliant victim you've become rebels: you have been been condemned to a life in prison for a crime you didn't commit. You were born free but you haven't been free to be yourself, to follow your heart, to act on your dreams for as long as you can remember. Somewhere deep inside, anger is a festering wound. Rage is building. You want to lash out at the abuser but your fear of him makes you lash out at yourself instead. You blame yourself, criticize yourself, hate yourself. Some victims resort to cutting, inflicting more pain on themselves, punishing themselves for someone else's sins. Others simply end it all by suicide. The rest, like me, keep hoping, believing that one day the abuser will come around, see what he has done, and truly does love you enough to finally set you free. That belief was what encouraged me to once again trust my Father when he said: 

"So, kitten, you're turning 21, becoming an adult. My little girl isn't a little girl any longer. So what do I give a 21-year-old for her birthday?"

His voice was kind, gentle, coaxing. My heart filled with hope. Could this be it? Was he finally going to set me free? I so wanted to believe that. I was about to blurt out "I want to be free to come and go as I please" but I hesitated. Years of my telling the truth had ended up in beatings or verbal whiplash. Would this be any different? He sensed my hesitation. He could smell my fear.

"Come on kitten" he encouraged. "Tell daddy what you want. You're a grown woman now. It's time for you to speak up for yourself, to make your own decisions ..."

Do you, dear fellow-victim, recognize yourself in that scene? Maybe your details weren't quite the same. Maybe you were a lot younger than I was when my father asked me those questions and gave me some hope that the misery that was my  life at that time was finally going to end and tomorrow would bring new beginnings. Or maybe you're still in that situation and don't see yourself ever getting out of it. Neither did I. You will have to read my book to find out how the above conversation ended, what my answers to my father were and if indeed, my answers bought me my freedom. 

But I'd like to leave you with this graphic I found and shared on Facebook today. It  literally screamed at me. It is what victims of abuse, any kind of abuse, long for and need the most. And until an abuser knows that, until the victim tells the abuser that this is what he/she wants, we will always be victims in an abusive situation, even when we are no longer in it! 


FREEDOM IS BEING YOU WITHOUT ANYONE'S PERMISSION!

13 comments:

  1. Wow Viga, This is so true and powerful. We did hope, and wanted out, but when you are young you are afraid, and do lash out at yourself. But now we are free from that, free to be ourselves, and there is nothing more wonderful than that feeling..Thank you for this post, and will have to wait for your book to read the rest..

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    1. Thanks for reading my post and commenting Mary. I really appreciate the support you give me and all our fellow victims at SPEAK OUT FROM UNDER. We need more like you Mary. You've been there; you've suffered; you've emerged victorious and now you help others in their healing. That's one of the beauties of regaining freedom to be yourself on your own terms.

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  2. What a great question? WHY DO VICTIMS OF ABUSE STAY IN ABUSIVE SITUATIONS? As an incest survivor, I broke free by turning of age, dating, and eventually getting married. I longed as a child for a prince charming to come riding on a horse up to our house and take me away from the degrading, embarrassing, disgusting pain of living with “those people”. (namely my family). In our house everything revolved around Dad - were we too loud when we played, were we in his way when walking into a room, was he mad, sad, happy, tired, we each carried our own scars which he so eloquently carved into our hearts. I couldn’t wait to turn 18. That meant I could leave, get married, I was finally an adult. I think .. I’ve been running away from my childhood my whole life. It’s always there, in the back of my head, telling me I’m no good, I’m not worthy, no one loves me, no one believes me. I was one of the lucky ones. I had a way out. A timetable so to speak. And then I ran as fast and as far as I could. I just realized - I’ve stayed “emotionally” & “spiritually” in the incest abusive family situation even today. I won’t be away from it until I set it free and re-write the pages of pain to pages of joy. I may be on my own as an adult, but I keep re-living the past. Why do we stay? Because sometimes, pain is familiar, comfortable. Thanks for the question. Love your blog.

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  3. It's so hard, even now, to own my story. Sigh. Hugs hun.

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    1. Thanks for commenting El. We never do really get over it do we, no matter how far along we are in healing. And as we write our own books, stories, blogs, the old feelings keep resurfacing, along with others we'd forgotten or pushed so far under. Our abusers will never know how much what they did undid us!

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  4. Wow! Sure brings back feelings of when I was 19 & ran away from home because I knew my Dad would never willingly let me go. I was so scared but knew I would slowly die a piece at a time if I couldn't get away. Leaving home that morning was the most frightening/courageous thing I have ever done.

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    1. And aren't you glad you did! I remember reading your story Patricia. It was horrid. What courage you had in running away. And now look at you today. You've come so far. At least you got away early. I can't believe how long I stayed there and I know of others still in such situations and they're already middle-aged ie. their abuser may no longer be abusing but they are incapable of breaking away as it's the only life or home they know. The "child" has never grown up.

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