This blog is not FDA approved
This is what they teach us in medical school about Abuse. That lecture where we learn about abuse, it goes something like this: Watch this video about how horrible abuse is, then let’s talk about the reasons people (women) stay in abusive relationships, then let’s make sure we understand why this cycle is so hard to break, and most importantly – never judge your patients for being (or choosing to stay) in an abusive relationship.
Understand. Never Judge.
Can you guess the first thing that is mumbled under the breath of all the students in the classroom? I just don’t understand, why wouldn’t they just leave. They’ve got to be stupid to just stay and take it.
They say it, and the truth is, it is impossible to understand… It really is. But in reality, how can we expect anyone to understand this cycle when they’ve never been part of it. We can’t even expect the people who are in the cycle to understand how it works. I can’t even understand how it works, and I was on the inside.
I was laying in a sobbing heap on the floor, yelling and screaming almost like a child, begging him not to leave me. I don’t even remember why he was threatening to leave me, he was probably yelling or insulting me, or manipulating me. I was afraid of what would happen to me if he left. I would be alone and that was scary. I begged and I pleaded with him and it was working. Then I offered myself to him – in all the ways he wanted me – unrestricted. You could say (if you want to) that I was asking for it. Maybe I was. I should have had the strength to let him leave if he wanted to.
But instead, I let him take my body as a sacrifice and an offering… and it worked. He was still there, laying beside me in a breathless, sweaty daze, and I was hurting. Physically. Emotionally. Mentally. And the next day, he didn’t want to leave anymore. I don’t remember what happened then, but it probably involved dinner and flowers, and maybe something else equally as flattering.
Now, years later, I sit in a classroom learning about this cycle and the person beside me leans over and whispers: “I can’t believe these women just take it.”
And I think to myself, “well, I didn’t just take it, I asked for it. What do you think about that?” And in that moment, I feel ashamed.
After a little while I started to get stronger. I started to think I deserved better. So I tried to stand up for myself and I tried to leave. The first time he begged me and he pleaded with me, and I still said no. But, his strength overpowered me and instead of me offering it up, he just took it. And that was when I completely broke. Before that point, I had always resigned. I used to think that everything else wasn’t really abuse, it wasn’t really rape. But who was I kidding. And after that, I lost the strength to leave. The honeymoon that time: it was his guilt and his attempts to apologize. And I took it with a heavy, broken heart.
I saw a pregnant woman come in through the emergency room one night and she was completely battered. We all felt for her, we admitted her and we offered her comfort. A few weeks later I learned that she went back to the guy when she left the hospital. And the people spreading this gossip said, “I just can’t believe it, you’d think she want to protect herself and her baby form that abuse.” And I tried to open my mouth and come to her defense… But I didn’t. I was ashamed.
The final time I tried to leave, I almost didn’t make it out alive. I was ready and I had my bag. He had just taken what he wanted from me and as he tried to apologize and he begged me, I threw my underwear and my toothbrush and my shirt into my backpack. I zipped it up and turned around but then I was on my back again, this time with hands around my throat. All I could see were his eyes and his range. I don’t know what happened and how long he held me like that, but then he just let go. My neck was red and sore for days, but he just let it go. And he let me go. And I never went back.
But I go back all the time because I don’t understand it. I try to understand, just like my classmates and my colleagues, and my attending physicians try to understand. But how can I understand these women when I can’t even understand myself. How can I not judge these women if I can’t not judge myself. Everyone wonders why this cycle happens. And all I do is wonder just the same.
And I feel the shame of it too.