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If you are abused, there are two things left to you: Staying -or- Leaving.

I thought I was keeping the family together. That it was better for my children to have their father with them. I thought that god wanted it this way.

My two little girls needed their mother, but she was gone. She was lost in a deep depression. By the time my younger daughter was in kindergarten the emotional battering was constant. The physical battering would come and go with the cycle, but I was caught in such a powerful downward spiral of self-loathing that I was virtually a prisoner of my own mind. Mental abuse does this. Verbal abuse does this.

No, I was not an innocent victim. I provoked some of it. That is why I could so easily believe that all of the trouble was my fault. In the early years I fought back. I wanted to get away, I tried to leave and was caught (moral: don’t pack, just run). I tried looking for someone to save me from my life. (Stupid. Who do you attract when you are depressed and battered? Another batterer. Another user. Someone who will give you nothing but promises and take everything you have left in your soul. And what do you get? More trouble.)

If you can’t decide whether to leave a man who batters you consider this: If you do not leave, you are making a choice to stay. This was my moment of clarity. My realization. Not leaving is staying. Not doing anything is making a choice to do nothing. Try. Reach out. Get some help. You are losing the days of your lifetime fighting this war.

Yes, I know it is difficult to leave and start over with nothing. After losing my son the fight was just gone. I could not make simple decisions. I was sleep deprived, (part of his strategy to control me). And I was starving myself. I was a walking skeleton. Every bone in my body stuck out of my skin. My face was drawn and old looking, my hair was falling out – I was 27 years old.

Here is the truth: a battered wife has nothing left to give, to her children, or herself.

Yes. Leaving is frightening. Starting over is not fun and it is difficult. Today, I have six grandchildren. They are such a blessing. One of my granddaughters has my eyes! When I kiss the tiny babies on the top of their heads I wonder why I don’t remember my babies this way. . . but then I realize that I wasn’t really even there for them. I was lost in the darkness of my fear. I can’t change the past, but I can be there for them now.