golden sunset mtry

Here you are, a survivor of domestic violence. You made it out, you are safe. Life may not be perfect, or even easy, but you are finally free.

So now what? How do you start your life over? You might need to learn a skill or brush up on your current skills, then you will need to look for work, but first you need some decent clothes to wear, oh, and you need to buy a car, and then you need to find a safe place to live after you leave the shelter, find good schools for the kids, and the list seems endless.

Almost insurmountable. Depressingly insurmountable.

Some women just crawl back into their shells and return to the man who battered them. Nothing changes, but then, she doesn’t have to change her entire life either.

When we were at the shelter almost the first thing I heard was that something like eighty percent of the women would go back to their abusers. I think now I finally understand why. They are afraid of making a new life, of all the changes, but they already know how to function in their old lives.

It’s not so surprising really. When you are being abused, and you see no way out, you adjust. Evolve, I suppose. You watch him, monitor moods and warning signs, and come to understand when it is a relatively safe time. Of course, there is no predicting what someone with a violent temper will do, the goal is just to get along the best you can and avoid the bad times as much as possible. Like everything else, violence lives in a cycle.

I can really only speak from experience, but I felt like every woman in the shelter was married to the same man. He went door to door and pretended to be our husbands. Each one spoke the same words, threatened the exact same things, blamed everything on us. We had failed to keep him happy, failed to interest him, failed to be the “good wife” he expected. It was like some bizarre movie that just kept playing over and over. It was amazing to me. There we were, dozens of women, scared, tired, tired of trying, and failing. Tired of life, some of us. Some just needing a break before the next go around. And we all told the same story.

Somehow I stumbled around getting my life back together, recovering bit by bit. My two innocent little girls needed me to be strong but all I wanted was to have someone take care of me. I was alone and afraid.There were many times I did not believe I could go one more step, but I knew absolutely that I could not go back. I simply had no choice. I had to go forward. I hope that if you know someone who is finally free, you will encourage her to keep moving forward. Going back is not the answer.

Many shelters now have job training and other helpful programs. I think that with this kind of backing, more women will be able to become independent and move forward with their lives.

Keep the faith.