This post was submitted anonymously.
After reading Lea’s blog post, Problem, is it any surprise that a mother who is being abused stays with her abusive partner or, if she has the courage to leave, often returns? Or, that she may leave and return four or five times before finally making a permanent getaway and a life free of abuse for her children and herself?
I was going to use the words choose to stay, choose to leave, or choose to return, but it’s not always that simple, not always that black and white when love and family become victims of any form of domestic abuse. At least not in the beginning. When does a choice become a necessity? What is the tipping point? When does a series of events lead to a crisis in an evolving situation?
I was in my thirties before I discovered, after watching a documentary, what domestic abuse was and understood for the first time that I had been a victim of it. Raised in the religion of Mormonism—many call a cult—domestic abuse is a way of life and the underpinnings of the religion. I didn’t know anything else. Personal boundaries within church and family are not allowed. The leaders of the church determine what is acceptable, not an individual member, or the parents for their own children. “Spare the rod and spoil the child” and “breaking a child’s spirit to the gospel” are considered acceptable. The mantra, framed in many different ways, is don’t think, don’t feel, and don’t question; accept, obey, and take your preordained place in the patriarchal order.
It was however, not my path or my choice for personal happiness. I chose at eighteen to leave the Mormon faith—which meant choosing to leave my family as the church and my family were one—after knowing for about four years that it was a necessity if I wanted to learn how to think for myself.
Escaping the Mormon Church however, didn’t end my being abused. I immediately married a man who was cruel, uncaring, and physically abusive to me and the children I had with him. Abuse, described as love, was what I’d been raised with and was all that I knew. I’d been trained from childhood to accept being abused as a woman without question. I’d been trained to ignore my gut feelings. I’d been trained to be obedient to a man and accept however he wanted to treat me. And I’d been trained not to think for myself.
Learning the skill of thinking for myself and the difference between abuse and loving, caring behavior, took many years. Only when I did, was I truly able to leave being a victim of domestic abuse in the past.
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