Try not to imagine why a victim stays, but rather, try to actually put yourself in their shoes. What happens when your abuser becomes your world? What does it feel like? I’m talking about the day-to-day emotions that wrack your body. What are the thoughts, the expectations, the realities of the world in which a victim lives? If you have not been there, you will be unable to understand. It will not make sense. You will wonder why anyone would tolerate such behavior from another human being. You will question the victim’s reasoning. Some will say the victim must like being treated badly or that they have no self-respect. You may say they must be crazy to stay in a situation where someone beats them down emotionally and/or physically. You may have your opinions, but you must try to put those opinions aside and do your best to live in your mind, what a victim lives in theirs.
Every second is about the abuser’s needs and wants. They have groomed you to be a certain way, to see life through a lens that is clouded by their desires. They claim to love you and drew you into them when you first met. They were wonderful from where you stood. You fell in love with their charm, their smile, and their warmth. And slowly, they eat away at your very being until you find yourself terrified of disappointing them.
They look out for you and protect you. You feel safe with them because they want only the best for you and for your life together. They begin to pull you away from your friends and your family, one person at a time. Slowly they speak lies in your ear and show you why you are better off without these people. They refocus you on the things that will be good for the two of you. Everything is about your life together. Your bond is unbreakable. Your love is secure and for life. They want only to be with you. And then, you are alone with them. Your life has become one that revolves around your abuser.
They begin to erode your confidence, retrain your thoughts, build you up only to tear you down. You start to notice that they are unhappy, so you do your best to make it better…you change. Their happiness becomes your number one priority. Not because that is all you want in life, but because you know that you can bring them back to the individual you believe them to be. But they become further removed from you and you desperately attempt to win that original love back. You have pushed your friends and family away. Your life, as you once knew it, is no longer.
But they pull back. They withhold the love you crave and need. They tell you how worthless and messed up you are. You believe them because you have no one anymore. There is no one to tell you that you are a good partner; this is the person who matters and you are losing them. And then, they give you a chance. They show their kindness and a glimpse of hope. They give you the love that you are craving. They tell you how much you mean to them and they show you attention.
And just as soon as you are feeling positive, they crush you with all that they have. You have screwed up again and your marriage will pay. You will be alone in this world and you deserve it because you are unable to bring joy to anyone. You are a failure in all that you do: a bad wife, lover, mother, and friend. Nobody needs someone like you in his or her life. You will die alone. You do not deserve someone like them. You are lucky to have them.
Soon, you find yourself a mess, a shell of what you once were. Depression and anxiety walk hand in hand with you daily. You are constantly walking on eggshells. Every minute of every day is an attempt to be a better version of yourself, but there is nothing left of you anymore. It is a losing battle because nothing you ever do will be good enough for your abuser. You are alone and afraid. The fear of retribution is a constant. One wrong look or action can lead to more emotional or physical attacks. You fear the pain of a physical attack, but almost dread the emotional more. You cannot bear to hear his words anymore. You know you are worthless and wonder if leaving this world will make it all better.
The idea of leaving crosses your mind, but where would you go. If you told your story, people would laugh at you. They would tell you to leave, but you can’t leave. They wouldn’t understand. You simply must fix your marriage. It is up to you to make it better. He tells you daily how messed up you are through his words and actions. It must be true. He obviously loves you and wants your marriage to better. Otherwise, he would leave, right? But he stays.
You try to be what he wants, and you never will be. You will never make him happy because he does not want to be happy with you. He wants to control you. But you, the victim, do not know this. He has erased who you are and made you into this skeleton of a person. You are his to control and the cycle continues.
This is where I was. Each story is different, and each technique is unique. Try to walk in the shoes of someone you are not. Try to understand their pain. Only then can you get a glimpse of the hell and confusion that is their life.