CRASH!!!! CRASH!!!! CRASH!!!! The locked door bowed in and creaked as my husband repeatedly slammed all of his weight against it. I sat on the toilet, stunned. I could hardly think as all my senses attuned to the cracking door and I focused my gaze on the door knob. I could see the wood around the latch splinter as the door began to give way beneath the pressure. CRASH!!! CRASH!!!! How long would it hold?
I knew he was angry, I had not yet seen him exude such physical force during a fight, I was frightened what would happen once the door gave way. Maybe if I could reach it and unlock it first, he wouldn’t be so mad and he wouldn’t be ruining my door. It’s funny the thoughts that float through your mind when something like this is happening, I was really concerned about the state of my door? The problem was, I was legitimately using the toilet. Before I could finish my business, jump off the toilet, and open the door, it gave way with one last harrowing CRASH!!!! As my husband stumbled into the room full force he was fuming, chest heaving up and down, eyes laser beam boring into mine. And I sat there, dumbfounded and frightened, on the toilet, completely helpless. I couldn’t even hide or climb out the window; I was stuck.
As a person who is experiencing abuse, your mind set is completely focused on survival, on not getting hurt, the choices you make and things you do all focus on keeping yourself (and often times your children safe).
You do your best to hide what is really going on behind closed doors from your friends and loved ones for several reasons:
• You don’t want people to think poorly of your spouse.
I know this sounds weird. Why protect someone who is hurting you? The best way I can explain this is you do still love the abuser. We as people tend to do things to protect the ones we love.
•You don’t want people to think poorly of you.
This kind of goes hand in hand with not wanting people to think bad of your spouse. You want people to think you are smart enough to make good decisions about who you allow into your life.
• You have been threatened by your abuser.
The abuser actually knows what they are doing is wrong. The abuser also knows in order for control to be kept, there needs to be silence. No on else can know. The abuser can either threaten verbally or through their actions.
• You are just plain scared.
As a person experiencing abuse, you don’t really know the lengths the abuser will go to keep control over you. You hear stories in the news, and you see your abuser do things you never thought they would. I remember when the cases of missing and murdered women began to surface (such as Laci Peterson and Lori Hacking ) my husband said, “Is that the norm now? Is that what I need to do to you to fit in?”. I didn’t know what to do or say. and my fear of him grew.
• Religious beliefs
This was another factor for me. Being raised in the Mormon faith, which really emphasizes the importance of family and marriage, it was hard for me to make the choice that would end my eternal marriage. I prayed, fasted and pondered. Even after I left, I wondered if I had made the right choice. I can tell you this: I know God would not desire any of his children to live a life of hurt, fear, control, and abuse. That is not his plan, and as I look back, I can see his hand in my life as I took the steps to leave and stay away from my husband.
If you know someone experiencing abuse, you may not understand what they are going through or why they make the choices they do. You may wonder why they stay when it seems so obvious to you that they should leave. Know that this is their choice and something they will have to live with. Know that they are afraid and insecure and uncertain. Just be there for them as they need you.