Much discussion has been raised in recent weeks about why those suffering from domestic violence both stay and leave their spouses and loved ones despite (or because of) the darker nature of their relationships. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in four women experience domestic violence during their lives. And there are people who suffer from domestic abuse but may not even realize it.
Deseret News National’s Lois Collins touched on this subject last week, identifying ways people can find help through faith and religion. Highlighted in the story were the hashtags #WhyIStayed and #WhyILeft, where many people have recently shared their relationship stories publicly on social media.
But what do those stories of leaving really look like? Here are four stories of why women left the men who were abusing them.
Barrett told Deseret News National that she left her boyfriend, who she planned to marry, after two years.
“He turned out to be a real jerk, and he just couldn’t keep it together,” Barrett said.
Her boyfriend had issues with drug and alcohol abuse and ended up getting physical with Barrett on a couple of occasions, she said. Barrett has placed a restraining order on her former boyfriend, and is still trying to avoid his advances.
“I would be crazy to go back, and never will,” she said. “He was given so many chances to get it together, and just couldn’t do it. I fell out of love.”
“I split with my husband summer of 2011, after a hospital visit and 16 stitches.”
Andrea, who didn’t give her last name, explained that her husband got physical with her, but it was only after years of mental abuse. The way her husband talked to her and constantly put her down chipped away at her heart and spirit. She said a lot of that was because of her husband’s depression, which was created by Andrea being the breadwinner and raising three kids.
When her husband lost his job, he became insecure and more abuse started, she said.
“I felt like I was being strangled in my marriage,” Andrea said. “I loved him, and still do, but I cannot get over the lack of strength and drive for taking care of our family and finances to survive.”
Andrea’s husband found counseling and started taking medication to help with his mood swings. But one night, things turned dark again as he “hurt me bad enough that I ended up in the ER, with my youngest daughter, and she refused to go home again,” Andrea said.
It was after that night that her husband went to jail, and he never came back to see her again.
That was the breaking point, too, for Andrea.
Perry started dating her husband when she was 17.
But the good times slowly turned into darkness, forcing Perry to leave her husband. She returned three times, and eventually married the man before finally leaving.
The pair had a daughter. And at 16, the daughter said to Perry, “I can’t take living like this anymore. It’s him or me.”
Her daughter wanted to leave, Perry said. And so the two worked out a plan that the next time the husband went to attack either of them, they would call 911 and get him sent away. Perry’s husband was locked up.
It’s been seven years, and Perry has started a whole new life.
“We made a pact that she could call 911 when I gave her the signal. Within two weeks, it happened, he was arrested and I pressed charges. I have learned to respect myself first,” she said.
In fact, Perry has turned the negative emotions into positivity, touring the country to give speeches, workshops and coaching to people who find themselves in domestic abuse relationships.
Virden had enough after 30 years of marriage.
Virden’s abuse started when her spouse wouldn’t talk to her, she said. Her spouse would spend days, weeks and years rarely speaking to Virden. But when he did, the words were often complaints and from a darker place. He would get jealous of her good news and degrade her, she said. He wouldn’t help her when she was sick and wouldn’t give any positive advice for work, she said.
“I remained silent on what was happening in our home. I also did not want to hurt the kids by making anything public,” she said. “I was lying to myself; some call it denial. It was the mindset of a person who had lost herself. Emotional abuse had convinced me I was a nothing, my ideas did not matter, and I was a fool to care.”
“He loved money more than me,” she added. “He loved his car more than me. He loved his dog more than me. The list goes on. If what we put our attention on is what we love the most, and I believe it is, then I was not on his radar.”
Virden battled depression, suicidal thoughts and “lost all hope.” But she eventually realized that with her older age -- and the fact that she had battled similar experiences as a child -- she needed to rise up and escape the abuse, she explained.
“With the support of professionals and encouragement of other women in my situation, I grew the courage to exercise my voice and say, ‘Enough!’ “
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