I have exciting news for you that I am simply bursting to tell you: It’s not your fault. It never was.
You may have been told that a thousand times or more and it has not sunk in … Well bear with me here as I try to explain how I know with all my heart, from personal experience, that this unhealthy relationship was NOT your fault.
No doubt you are immediately thinking of all the things that you did wrong that you feel helped to provoke him … you may tell me – if I hadn’t raised my voice he wouldn’t have smashed the wall … If I’d been kinder to him about how late home he was maybe he wouldn’t have hit me … Maybe if I had gone with him out with his friends he wouldn’t have got into that fight …
Well, I say again girl, you are NOT TO BLAME!!
You can’t control someone’s response. You can only control your own. And let’s face it honey, in every relationship there are ups and downs, and fierce arguments. And news flash honey, that is NORMAL!
But let me point out the obvious differences, in your relationship, the slightest disagreement resulted in violence – that is never okay! Or some kind of manipulation to get what he wanted from you so that you ended up apologising for requesting a basic human right, like to be listened to and heard. But he couldn’t cope with that. Which resulted in you becoming increasingly frustrated, to the point where you raised your voice and begged him to understand. At which point, he turned to you and said that this was all your fault. That you were too sensitive, too demanding and with that he proceeds to rip you to shreds with his words, with his fists, with every cruel manoeuvre that he knows until you believe it, until it becomes a normal part of your thought pattern…
There must be something wrong with me. I must cause this. This whole situation is my fault.
This is what bugs me soo much about anger management groups teaching couples that every problem and situation is 50/50 – both partners are responsible for their issues. Now this is true of normal fights and disagreements. But you cannot tell me that a husband punching the wall because the computer’s not working can be 50% attributed to his wife. She’s got nothing to do with his behaviour. He chooses to act out in this way. She is partnered with him, so his behaviour directly affects her and influences her life in a huge way. But there is no way she should be landed with 50% of the blame for his actions.
Therefore, I do not believe that when we are talking about domestic violence we should be talking in terms of 50/50 split with each partner shouldering the responsibility.
Any form of abuse, whether emotional, physical or psychological is never caused by the person affected, the survivor of the abuse. She is an innocent pawn, stuck in the midst of this horrible scene, feeling like there’s no way out. She wants to leave but she can’t see her way out. Her world looks way too big without her partner in it. She’s so used to caring for him 24/7 that she can’t even imagine a life without him.
He has become her normal. This life is all she knows. Breaking free will be the hardest thing she ever does.
Firstly, it is so important to ensure that she knows that she is in no way to blame for his actions.
It would not have mattered how submissive, gentle or respectful she was. To be blunt, he wouldn’t have given a shit either way.
I know this from personal experience. I tried to create a safe, quiet, peaceful haven for Pete. But it didn’t make any difference. I couldn’t control every single thing that happened in our world. I couldn’t stop the supermarket attendance from being rude … I couldn’t prevent the computer from breaking down … I couldn’t protect him from his own thoughts and feelings. Each day he had a choice in how he was going to respond to the different situations that came his way. HIS choice, not mine. HIS response, not mine.
To be honest, I don’t even like saying that it was his FAULT. I would say that life is all about choices.
And my ex husband chose to make bad choices. He chose anger over a wife and family. He chose a path of self-destruction. I hope that changes someday but it is not up to me to change him. The only person I could change was myself.
So I did. I got the hell out. And I’ve never looked back since.
An important piece of being able to leave him was when my counsellor said to me very matter-of-factly that I had been abused. And another piece was when my close friend put her arms around me and said, “It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault. … It’s not your fault.”
It’s taken a hell of a long time, but I can finally say, almost 2 years later, that I have absolutely no regrets. And I do not in any way blame myself for what went down.
I tried my damnedest to save my marriage and to help him become the man that I could see he was capable of becoming.
But in the end of the day, it was up to him. And I needed to put myself first and look after my own life and heart and soul.
And so even though it broke my heart, I packed my bags, took back my heart in pieces and left.
And I’m better for it.
Hoping this speaks to those of you who need to hear this tonight,