You may have seen all the coverage and talk about Ray Rice. No matter what you think about the situation, I’m glad it’s bringing about more conversation about domestic violence and abuse.
Some people have questioned how and why Rice’s wife has chosen to stay. Only she knows what’s really going on in her heart and mind. So, I won’t speak for her.
Those who have known me since college know that my college years weren’t exactly what I had planned for them to be. I was in a very tumultuous marriage. Thankfully, I’m no longer in that marriage and have since remarried and moved on, but I can relate to Rice’s wife with regards to people questioning why on earth she would stay for even a second. I neither support nor oppose her decision to stay. I don’t personally know them and don’t know what’s in their hearts, so it’s not my place to say what she should or shouldn’t do, but I can share with you my experience and why leaving isn’t always easy. My marriage had different details than the Rice marriage, but here are some reasons why I stayed and why it took me some time to leave. Leaving isn’t always easy–even if the person wants to leave.
1. I believed he would change.
He always had a good reason why he did things and had a way of convincing me that it would never happen again.
After all, he was my husband. Why wouldn’t I want to believe he was being honest with me?
2. I took my marriage vows seriously.
3. I felt ashamed and judged.
4. I felt trapped.
Many times throughout that marriage, we didn’t have a place to live and didn’t have any money. Even when I took steps to leave, like getting a job and saving up my own money, he found a way to take those from me.
5. I felt like no one would ever want me again.
He had me convinced that no one would ever want to be with someone who had twins, one of whom was special needs. I was convinced that I was “used goods.”
6. I was afraid he would take my kids away from me.
This was a very valid concern. He actually did take them away from me at one point after I finally left, but thankfully I was able to get them back after about a month and a half of not knowing where my children were.
7. I was afraid he would kill me.
This, too, was a very valid concern. That’s all I’ll say about that for now.
Thankfully, I finally realized that I deserved better and found the courage to leave. I was able to get out, gain knowledge and strength from, heal from, move on from and can now help others do the same.
Leaving takes courage, planning, faith and support. I loved this interview this morning on Good Morning America. I encourage you to watch it and take note of their tips on leaving.
If you need help leaving, please get help. Don’t be ashamed. You owe it to yourself (and kids) to get out. You can move on.
The Houston Area Women’s Center can help you. Also, you can call 1-888-7HELPLINE to reach the Domestic Abuse Helpline.
If you know someone who needs to leave an abusive relationship, remember to just love on them, don’t make them feel judged and let them know you’re there for them.
What advice do you have for women who feel stuck in an abusive relationship?