To any of you that are struggling to make sense of your situation, whether you are still with your abuser or have managed to escape, I highly recommend the Lundy Bancroft book, Why Does He Do That? Once I was free I was left with so many questions in my head. Lots of them are still there, lurking in the deepest darkest parts of my mind, every now and then making an unwanted appearance, I know that it must be a normal reaction to such a traumatic situation but it’s still pretty irritating. The main question, and one of my most frequent visitors is simply, ‘why me?’ and I’m certain that will be the case for most women.
Why did he choose me? Why did I stay in the early days when it would have been so much easier to walk away? Why did I have children with him? Why did I stand for it? Why didn’t I fight back? Why wasn’t I stronger? Why did I stay so long? Why…?
Bancroft’s book helped me to make sense of what I have been through, and why. It’s quite frightening how accurately he describes exactly how my life was, down to the minute details. I have often said since, when reading other women’s stories that are so strikingly similar to my own, that it is like these men were pulled aside at some point in their lives and given a handbook, ‘How to abuse women’. Unfortunately it seems that lots of men have this abuse thing down to a fine art. So perfect in fact, that Bancroft has been able to describe their characteristics, behaviours and personalities to a tee.
This book is also a must for family or friends of a victim to read. Whether their loved one is still in or out of an abusive relationship, they will have questions too. Many the same as the ones I mentioned above, but the most common and the one that is without doubt the most difficult for any victim to answer is, ‘Why don’t you just leave?’ It’s that word, just. Just. When you’re in an abusive relationship you don’t or can’t just do anything. It’s a ridiculous word and one that should never be used when talking to a victim or a survivor. My advice would simply be to just read the book.
The reason for this slightly ‘ranty’ entry, is due to me reading through my old journal, which is full of snippets of memories from my time with him. I will be gradually going through it over the next few weeks and transferring them on to here. I came across a scrawled, badly written paragraph, clearly written ‘in the moment’, it’s me at my most frustrated. This is what I had written.
I will never, ever be able to get people to understand the ‘whys’, unless they know the entire story. How I felt one hundred percent of the time, how I functioned, how I got through each day and why I made the decisions I did. I know that now after tonight, because it seems even my own mum, who knows more than most, still doesn’t understand. It’s not easy trying to make sense of something for someone else to understand, when you don’t even understand it yourself.
Needless to say, after this, I gave her the book.