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Why Some Women Stay

May 20th, 2009

This is a powerful perspective on why some women stay, at least for a while, with a verbal abuser. Of course, there are other reasons; most commonly, it is to protect the children from being alone with a rager. The story that follows adds so much to understanding the fear people feel in the presence of irrational behavior, i.e., verbal abuse.

A beautiful young woman, not yet 30 called me crying from fear. “Does being so afraid to leave prove that I am really, really abused,” she asked.

She was braving the freezing winter winds and eminent snow to get away while her abusive husband was not around. This was her window of opportunity. After talking with her a few minutes, I realized the verbal abuse she endured was truly horrific. To just call it extreme would be downplaying her experience. In those few minutes, I also realized how very smart, articulate and amazing she was. I asked her, “Would you some day, send me a note about what you just told me? I know it will help others to understand the fear the craziness generates.

In the middle of the night, safely ensconced in a cozy and secret place, she sent me the following email, to help others.

“For those who compare living with a verbal abuser to being a Prisoner of War, I can tell you that it’s not even close. Being a Prisoner of War is actually easier. At least, when you are a Prisoner of War, you are taken against your will. You KNOW that you are living with the enemy. You KNOW that they are lying to you. You KNOW that they are feeding you propaganda, and you can mentally fight it. Verbal abusers are far more sinister because they befriend you, win your heart, and gain your trust. I have never been a P.O.W., but I have been to war. I have fallen asleep to the sound of machine gun fire each night. I have worked in buildings peppered with holes from mortar rounds. I have walked through mine fields. I have been trained to keep my wits during terrorist attacks. But, leaving the man, that I believed was my soul-mate, is BY FAR the scariest thing that I have ever done! –Veteran, US Air Force

Yes, she had been in the Air Force, had slept under fire, and she is quite brave. I’ll always remember that everyone has his or her own time to stay or go. Sharing this message is one way to promote understanding throughout the world.

Taken from a newsletter done by Patricia Evans, www.verbalabuse.com.

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