I’ll never forget the moment I was lying down with my two boys in our one-bedroom apartment, certainly a step down compared to the big house from which I’d removed them, when one of my little boys looked around the room, glanced up at me, and said, “Mommy, I love our new home.” It was a feeling I won’t forget, my heart filled with gratitude and grief. Gratitude because his sweet words confirmed to me that I had done the right thing in leaving my ex, and grief because I realized just how aware he’d been of how bad things were before. I felt thankful to have a roof over our heads, no matter how small, and thankful that we were not constantly walking on eggshells. We could finally all sleep without being woken up by bad dreams and we could cry and receive comfort instead of belittling.
It had been a long journey, but hearing those words from my son– his innocent appreciation for the little we had–reminded me that everything was going to be okay. No matter what, we had each other. I had made the right decision to walk away from my old life. Like many abuse victims, I feared being cut off from everything when I finally took the plunge and left my ex. My finances, my family, my friends and even my reputation could all be compromised. But the fear of losing all of that eventually became less than the desire for me and my boys to be safe.
I can stand here today as a survivor and say I am grateful for everything I have. Looking back, I don’t regret leaving my nice house, my stable bank account or my former social circles. None of those things can be enjoyed when it’s lorded over by an abusive spouse. As my children most certainly know, no amount of toys or possessions can bring the joy that comes from feeling safe and secure.
This story is similar to what we have heard from so many survivors. While they had been scared to leave their abusive husband or wife, the peace and safety that followed that decision were worth more than any sacrifices made. We hope this news is encouraging to you.
If you are in a relationship with someone who is physically or emotionally abusive, we encourage you to make a change. This change may be to meet with a therapist who specializes in abuse or to begin counseling and courses at your local Domestic Violence Agency to help put boundaries in place until you are ready to decide whether you will stay or leave. Many have told us they chose to stay because they believed that it was better for their children that they stay together. But when abuse is present in a marriage, research shows that children suffer. Even if they are not physically harmed, they could still have long term traumatic effects from witnessing a parent’s abuse or from parental behavioral modeling that carries forward to the next generation.
Even if you have not suffered from covert or overt emotional abuse or physical abuse yourself, it is very likely that at some point, someone will confide in you about the abuse they are suffering. As they start sharing with you, the most important thing you can do is listen. Just be there for them. And, when the time is right, you can also encourage them to make a change. Affirm that they are strong enough to leave their abusive relationship and that there will be so much to be thankful for on the other side.
Here at The M3ND Project, we have a lot to be thankful for as well. We are thankful for the friends, family and loved ones who come alongside victims as they are on a difficult journey. We are thankful for the men and women who have been encouraged to leave an abusive relationship or do the hard work to change and start a road to recovery. We are thankful to our donors, large and small, who make it possible for us to help educate, equip and restore those impacted by all forms of abuse. We love hearing your stories and hope you will continue to share how our work has helped you or a loved one.
We are also thankful and excited for what 2020 has in store. If you would like more information on how to get involved please visit https://themendproject.com/get-involved/. We encourage you to get involved in our Giving Tuesday campaign and share our social media posts on Giving Tuesday. Thank you in advance for your support!