How do you know if it is time to leave?
(2nd of a 3-part series)
Not a day passes that somewhere a victim of domestic violence is not contemplating if it is, in fact, time to leave.
Maybe there has not been any physical abuse, at least not yet. “Just” the never-ending verbal and emotional abuse that beat a victim down as much as a fist or a club. But, is it time to leave? There may be no physical wounds or scars, but damage is still being done. Maybe it’s time to leave. Do not for one moment think you aren’t a victim of domestic violence because “He never hit me.” I said it. Dozens (probably hundreds) of times I said it. “But, he hasn’t really hit me.” That was dismissing the grabbed arms and hair, the threats, being backed into a corner and not allowed to move until “You look me in the eye when I talk to you!” I had not yet reached a point of acknowledging it was time to leave.
Then came the Easter Sunday when all hell broke loose. I was about to learn it was time to leave. It had been a somewhat normal Easter Sunday for the children and me. We went to church in our new fancy Easter clothes. I cooked several dishes and carried them to my parents’ home for our annual Easter dinner. The kids had their Easter egg hunt. On the surface it appeared to be a good day. Nobody knew the racing heart, lump in my throat or how much fear was welling up within me. The children and I knew his pattern. He’d drink until he was grossly intoxicated. The drunker he got, the more easily he became angry. The angrier he got, the more vocally abusive he became. And there had been the times he showed a tendency for becoming physically violent. I knew that he would drink a lot for a long time. Then he’d be hungry and expect to be fed. Like a caged lion at the zoo, if he was not fed when he thought it was feeding time, he would become dangerously aggressive.
There I was, torn in two directions. If I stayed where there was peace and joy, I would not have to deal with my abuser. But, if I did not leave and return home, the longer I was away, the more riled up he’d get, and the worse it would be when we did finally return home. So, it was time to leave the sanctuary of Grandma’s house to go to the place we called “home.” That became the day all the physical violence broke out. Not just the verbal and emotional abuse I had grown accustomed to, but also being yanked and dragged by my hair, finally having my head rammed repeatedly into a door. The day had finally arrived when there was no more doubt that it was time to leave.
When you reach the point of considering it is time to leave, do not do it on the spur of the moment. It is imperative that you never consider leaving without first having a safety code in place, and a safety or exit plan ready to utilize. So, you’ve decided it is time to leave. What next? Please read the next post that is coming soon. It will provide you with details of developing a safety plan and having things in order when you have decided it is time to leave.