Why I Couldn’t “Just Leave”: How I Survived Domestic Abuse

You Are Stronger Than You Think Background

I first met him on a sunny day at Gold Coast. I was on vacation with my friends. We met at a juice stall and quickly became good friends. With time I fell in love and got into a relationship.  At first, it was the most incredible relationship! He would buy me all sorts of gifts and take me wherever I wanted.  It was a ride through Disneyland! However, it turned out to be just a dream after all.

You would think; why didn’t I just leave when things started to go wrong? Why didn’t I just leave when he started hitting me? Well, it wasn’t so simple.

The beginning was subtle. He would tell me I didn’t look good in specific clothes and give his suggestions instead.  He wouldn’t let me hang out with friends at night for my own ‘protection’. Every time I told myself “He does this because he loves me”.

He subtly isolated me from my friends and family. Planted tiny seeds of mistrust between all my loved ones, and he was the only savior. He was the only one who truly and completely loved me. Blindly, I had gradually reduced hanging out with friends, meeting my parents, and having any fun which did not include him.  He asked me to quit my job because he could sufficiently provide for both of us. Oblivious to my foolishness, I fell into the trap. This made me financially, psychologically, and emotionally dependent on him.

This is where the gaslighting began, he always questioned my judgment and memory. I, on the other hand always gave him benefit of the doubt. He disregarded my feelings as if they were irrelevant and told me I was being overly sensitive. When I confronted him on certain things he always changed the subject and seemed to find something to blame me for. He constantly forgot date nights I had planned, that he had already agreed to.

Thoughts of confusion were intoxicating me by this time. He paid me less attention by the day. He was so loving and caring in one moment and cold, detached, and calculating in the next.

He was carefully knitting an invisible web around me, slowly compressing me, and eventually choking me to death.

I found myself always apologizing, constantly making excuses for his mistakes, and craving attention. One day, his inner beast surfaced. During a heated argument, he hit my head repeatedly on a kitchen cupboard door. It gave me my first wound of domestic violence. I left immediately. Threw our engagement ring in his face and ran away. Alas! It did not end from there.

He begged for mercy. Told me he’d die without me. Even the thought of losing him was a throbbing heartache. I was convinced that this was an isolated incident. He was under a lot of pressure from work and other things. That he would never raise a hand on me again. I was gravely mistaken.

This was the presage of a cycle of abuse. Lenore E. Walker developed a theory called the cycle of abuse in 1979. Here the abuser first builds tension, then attempts violence and dominates the victim, and finally, the honeymoon phase where the abuser first feels remorse and then calms down. Our relationship was going through the same phases. Little did I know I was a typical domestic violence victim.

He continuously built a tense environment around me. Nitpicking and yelling, humiliating me in front of his friends, and playing the victim. At the climax, he always punched me and strangulated me. My bruises and wounds soon became uncountable, but somehow I was convinced that “I had it coming to me”. The next moment he apologized, gave me roses and took me out on dates.

Soon these honeymoon phases grew shorter, and the tension-building phase stretched. It was a living hell. One day, reality hit me. After a whole day of getting ignored, playing in the shadows I decided to go looking for him. I found him at a bar with two other girls.

That’s when I finally decided to break the silence. The truth I was concealing from everyone for his sake. The truth I should’ve revealed long ago. I told my friends, family, neighbors, and even strangers. Then I ran for my life.

The devil could never let me call it quits

I fled to the other side of the planet but this did not stop him from stalking me. He called, figured out my location quickly, and even came back to my doorstep. Stalked me like a ghost. Threatened to kill me. In his opinion, if he couldn’t have me, no one could.

I sought help and was extremely lucky to have family and friends who encouraged me to open up. They kept me safe and directed me to a psychologist.

We think we are alone when our abuser isolates us. However, in reality, we all have so many amazing people around us.

I always had flashbacks and nightmares. I couldn’t sleep and a sense of fear constantly kept haunting me. I was diagnosed with PTSD. I went through several therapy sessions with my psychologist.

I started loving myself again. I regained my sense of self-worth and confidence. The throbbing heartache which constantly nagged me slowly faded and the mist of confusion lifted. Only then could I see everything crystal clear right in front of my eyes.

Now I am skyrocketing once again in my career and maintaining healthy friendships. I met the love of my life 2years later, happily married, and now have 2 beautiful children.

One in 6 Australian women and 1 in 16 men have undergone intimate partner violence in their life. You all might be having a loved one going through it right now. Be compassionate to them, encourage them, and direct them for professional support. They need you now more than ever!

Domestic violence is never the fault of the abused, but always the fault of the abuser!