soul song  2007

The abuser does not have a need to recover when the relationship ends. He simply moves on. He has his pride to protect. He puts on his nice guy face and goes out hunting for a fresh victim. He will tell everyone that he sent the other on her way.

It is the victim who is left to recover. It is a hard road. She is not even a shell of her old self by this time. Why? What has happened to her?

The wild creature, when cornered, will fight for her life, but will she fight every day for the next six years? Is there a point at which she gives up? If the batterer withholds water, food or shelter for a long enough time, will the creature give in and allow herself to be captured? Or will she simply die with her eyes open and her claws extended?

The battered woman, conversely, will beg for mercy. We have been tamed. Our wildcat nature has been housebroken. We live by rules that do not allow us to scratch out the eyes of our abusers. Those of us who do fight back are quickly overpowered and provided with many painful reasons to defer to our abusers in the future.

If the batterer should hold her child for ransom, will the victim continue to fight? In my experience this answer is “no.” When I was told that my children would be hidden away in parts unknown, and that I would never see them again, I became quickly obsequious. I was “caught.” I decided that I would have to submit to his battering, live with his hate, and find some way to protect my daughters.

He won every battle, but I won the war. We ran, and he did not chase us. Surprise. It was all a bluff. He did not want the responsibility of raising his two young daughters. He wanted to be free to find another victim who would pump up his fragile ego and bend to his desires. He would be kind to her in the beginning. The rest is history.

The amazing book Women Who Run With the Wolves, by Clarissa Pincola Estes, has truly saved my life. I have recommended it to every battered or recovering woman I have ever come across. We are not wild creatures. We are women. We are strong, powerful, and we CAN do this. We CAN overcome the depression and fear. We can become ourselves again.

(Marge, thanks.)