I do not look like the type of woman that was in an abusive marriage.
I am middle class and well-educated. I was raised in a middle-class home with two loving parents and a large extended family nearby. I am successful in my chosen career field. If you saw me in the grocery store you would think I look just like most other middle-aged women.
I do not look like the type of woman that would be abused. The problem is, there is no "type." Domestic violence affects one in three American women and cuts across all socio-economic and racial groups.
What is domestic abuse?
Domestic abuse includes physical abuse, sexual abuse, and psychological abuse. All three don’t need to be present in the relationship to be considered domestic abuse, although psychological abuse quite often leads to physical abuse.
Take a look around your neighborhood, your office, your play groups. If the one-in-three statistic is accurate, odds are you know someone in an abusive relationship.
Maybe you are that woman, but too scared or too ashamed to admit it.
Or, like me, you are so deep into depression and hopelessness that you don’t realize you are being abused.
Psychological abuse is insidious
It is a systematic pattern of control waged by the abuser over a long period of time that leads the woman to not only doubt her own judgment but to fear for her safety. There are many reasons a woman stays in the abusive relationship, including lack of finances, isolation and fear. On average, a woman will try to leave the relationship seven times before leaving for good.
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence says that psychological abuse is actually a stronger predictor of PTSD than physical abuse in women. An estimated 70 percent of abused women are diagnosed with PTSD and/ or depression.
Psychological abuse includes:
Humiliating the victim Controlling what the victim can do or who she can see Denying access to money Stalking Withholding information Isolation
Shortly after my divorce I was diagnosed with PTSD, depression, and anxiety. It’s been almost three years and I am still living with the effects of years and years of abuse. Certain noises still trigger difficult memories. I still don’t sleep well at night.
Everyone always asks me the same question: Why did I stay?
There is no easy answer. There is no answer you can truly understand unless you have lived it.
For the first time, I have finally spoken the truth
I have written what it was like to live in a psychologically abusive marriage. It posted to a popular website and in less than a week had more than 25,000 shares.
More importantly, the comments and messages I received from women all over the country, that I have never met, were heart wrenching. My story is the story of so many women.
My story is the story of too many women.
If you’ve ever asked ‘Why did she stay’ or told yourself it could never happen to you, your sister or your daughter, please read You Can Get PTSD From Staying In A Psychologically Abusive Relationship.
Warning, for those dealing with PTSD from an abusive marriage, the following article could be a trigger to painful memories. But staying silent will only allow the cycle to continue.
If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, get help.
National Domestic Violence Hotline • (800) 799-SAFE
Tennessee Domestic Violence Hotline • (800) 356-6767
Family Safety Center of Memphis & Shelby County • 222-4400 / 24-hour hotline & services for those effected by domestic violence
Tipton County Domestic Violence Services • 476-0235