There was something that struck me right between the eyes while being interviewed by Eddie this week; when he asked me why I stayed or went back, the answer I gave sounded so feeble. Even as I was saying it I was thinking, “This answer is so inadequate, it sounds weak, feeble.” I think Eddie said something like, “I hear the things he did and can’t help but wonder why you would stay”. That is not a direct quote but you get the idea.
The thing is, I KNOW it sounds crazy that I would stay 10 years with someone who I suspect was having my vehicles stolen, sabotaging my vehicles and physically and mentally abusing me. What normal healthy person would stay with someone like that? To say he denied doing it, sounds feeble; who wouldn’t deny it? To say I loved him sounds really feeble because how can you love someone you think can kill you?To say I was in denial sounds a little bit more understandable but then we are back to it being my fault for staying and yes it was ultimately my decision to stay or go back; it is just not that simple and straight forward.
I have been trying to come up with a short, concise, accurate way of explaining why a victim stays and what is going on within the relationship to confuse the victim enough they would stay with an abusive person.
I just don’t know that it can be explained in 5 or 10 minutes of an hour long interview, I don’t think it could be explained if you took the whole hour trying to explain it. Because until you have dealt with crazy you just can not understand the mind fuck (excuse me but sometimes fuck is the only word that adequately describes something) the victim goes through and if you have been through it; it needs no explanation because mind fuck pretty well covers it.
I know that in order for society to understand and have some empathy for the victims someone has to come up with some way of explaining it in a way the lay person can grasp what the victim is thinking. So I am going to attempt that here, now, today, in as few words as possible for no other reason that I need to be able to find the words to describe it and justify my actions I suppose. I desperately want people to understand and it is the one thing I have struggled with from day one of blogging and raising awareness. The victims always relate, OMG!! finally someone who understands, someone who knows what they have been through. But like I said, it is great victims find someone who can relate and empathize with them but we need to somehow come up with an explanation where society says, “OMG! I understand now! I would have stayed too” or at the very least says, “I don’t know what I would have done in the same situation.” Because right now I know people listen to victims speak of the abuse and think, “I would have walked away, I would never have put up with that shit, what was wrong with them? How did they let it get so far?”
My shortest explanation: Society has a way of relating, behaving, general rules that most of us follow and it works for the most part. A person is supposed to be honest and if they aren’t honest when they get caught in a lie and confronted, they confess and either apologize or tell you to take a fucking flying leap. We are told that if a person is lying there are ways you can tell; ie: they won’t look you in the eyes, but what if the person who is lying to you looks you straight in the eyes? what if they can pass a lie detector test? what if no matter how much proof you have they still deny deny deny? I will never forget overhearing James tell my son, “If you are ever caught by anyone doing something wrong, even the cops; just deny deny deny……….. what can they do? never admit to anything.” You see most people, when they lie and get caught in their lie, feel guilty and confess eventually. I never lie because I swear a big neon sign lights up above my head flashing “Liar Liar!!” that is guilt doing it’s job. BUT a narcissist doesn’t feel guilt so he can look you straight in the eyes and deny everything with such conviction you doubt your own eyes, ears and memory.
If the evidence is so compelling there is no way he can deny it then he will blame shift and accuse you of doing something equally as bad. Before you know it, because you are honest and hate to be falsely accused of anything you defend yourself. Viola! you are now in defensive mode and not thinking about what he did, then he rejects YOU for this untrue crime and you end up begging him to believe you would never do that. Or he gets angry at you for snooping and invading his privacy and from that day forward everything he lies about is your fault because you drove him to it with your spying and false accusations.
You keep thinking that you will find the evidence you need to PROVE once and for all that he is lying and then he will HAVE to admit it and you will be validated because there is nothing worse than being falsely accused of doing anything. We are so honest and would never do the things he says we are, we become obsessed with proving we are not wrong.
Also, this person pretended to be the most honest person we have ever met, they told us things about themselves that were not flattering to them, they maybe even cried when they admitted to it so we assume that they are normal people with normal guilt and that if they were lying they would eventually admit it and feel sorry. That is the way the world works, those are the “rules”.
So after denying denying denying the victim eventually gets fed up and is sure they are lying, besides they are acting like they hate you and you can’t change their mind so you accept that this relationship is not working. It breaks your heart but you have to admit the truth and you leave. In a normal relationship you may be angry but couples usually try to split as amicably as possible. you both loved each other at one time and you try to stay friendly, you have broken up before and there was never a problem staying on friendly terms with any of your other ex’s. But all of a sudden they are telling you that you deserted them, it was your choice to leave. No, you didn’t want to leave, you thought they didn’t love you and wanted you to leave. They are so sad, look so lost without you, they are calling all the time and professing their love, you want to believe them and they out of the blue admit they were wrong, they treated you horribly and they are so sorry, they cry, they ask for a second chance.
in a normal world a person who cries and admits they were wrong and asks for a second chance intends to change; why would he admit he was wrong if he didn’t believe he was wrong? If he knows you are hurt and angry about him, say seeing other women or having personal ads; he had a choice, you left, if that is what he wants he is free to do so, you are out of the picture. But he came to you, he admits he was wrong, he asks for another chance. No one does that unless they plan to change; except a narcissist. Sure there are people who would say, “if he cheated on me one time I would never go back, or if he hit me once that would be the last time he ever had the chance to hit me again. And those people would not go back and bravo for them. I suppose there are people in the world who can look at a person that they love with all their being, a person they have committed to loving through the good times and the bad, crying and asking for a second chance and walk away. I suppose there are people who are so cold-hearted they never forgive anyone, and they would never get hurt by a narcissist.
I know in my past I had always had my own home, I was a home owner and if the relationship didn’t work out I had the home and he had to get out, I even paid a guy to go away because he wanted part of my house because he had done work on it. It pissed me off to have to pay him out but I had credit and was able to avoid lawyers and just gave him some money and told him if he was smart he would take the money and not fight me for more. He took the money and I never saw him again.
I didn’t have that option when things went bad with James, the other thing people don’t understand, when the victim says he wouldn’t let them work or isolated them. They think, “how did he isolate you? he didn’t chain you to a chair”, “no man would ever tell ME I can’t work!” “I have a career, there is no way I would ever not be able to get a job if I wanted to” “I would never just hand over my money to any man” All things I have said in the past when I heard the excuses women gave for staying.
James never once said to me, “You can not work” in fact he bitched profusely about having to support me and kept saying I needed to be on my own and support myself so I would know what it feels like. I thought he was having some sort of break down, what the hell did he think I was doing all those years as a single working mom? I looked for work, but I was getting unemployment benefits and ,making as much as if I was working and able to stay home and cook and clean like James seemed to want. When I did have a job interview the car was never working and he would have to drive me and I would miss the interview, YES I would get angry but it did no good. I didn’t want to leave without a job, I had no support system, no job, no money and James told me if I left I left with nothing. I was terrified of being homeless, I thought I could hang in long enough to get a steady cheque coming in and a bit of cash saved for furniture etc. Then there would be the romantic nights, we would have some good times, but he was never happy for long of course.
Then he was saying I forced him into living together. We did start living together rather quickly so I could see that maybe we went too fast and needed to take a step back. I would move out and we could date and take it slow, but then he moved in with me and wouldn’t leave. To me it meant that he didn’t realize what he had until it was gone, he must love me or he wouldn’t want to be with me. By nature I am a trusting person and take a person at face value, i never expected there would be some evil plot against me, that any man would purposely do things with the intention of hurting and destroying me. Only a paranoid person would think that.
(This is getting a lot longer than I intended, and so there in lies the problem, it is never cut and dried, there are extenuating circumstances, things that are out of our control and out of our frame of reference, we are “winging” it without any idea of who we are dealing with)
In my previous relationships we just pooled our money and paid the bills, I was in charge of the finances in past relationships and to be honest I was quite happy to let him have some of the responsibility. He made a lot more money than me and always would, he had excellent professions, heavy duty mechanic, Class 1 driver, welder/fabricator; all of which paid and pay excellent money. There is no way I could contribute equal, in past relationships I had made the most money and I never quibbled about who made more, we were a couple and we lived on what we brought in as a couple. Which seemed fine with him at first but then we started arguing about money, I didn’t keep my receipts, I didn’t record my finances, I just knew what bills needed to be paid, how much money came in and I paid the bills. He kept records, I thought, “OK, i will have to change the way I do things, I will record my finances also.” No problem right? But he pass worded the accounting program so I couldn’t use it and he never recorded my receipts properly and then accused me of spending I could not disprove. He kept a journal, he would record things in his journal and get angry with me for them and I had no recollection of what he was talking about. He would refer to his journal so i started journaling. I kept thinking, “These are not big problems, he has some quirks that I can accommodate.
He had gotten involved with a married woman when he was only 13 or something and she was rich. She took him to live with her in California when he was 14, she registered him in school down there. ( what his parents were thinking I do not have a clue but like hell would any woman twice my son’s age and married!! to boot, take my 14 year old son out of the country to be her boy toy) He told me all these horror stories about what a drunk she was, how she never appreciated him, etc and I thought he just had a warped idea of how relationships work and that if I was patient and loving he would see that not all women are psycho bitches. I explained to him that he may not realize it but that was child abuse on her part, at 14 he was not mature enough to know how to be in an adult relationship.
Then he had gotten involved with a much younger girl and I chalked that up to being because he had been with this older woman. He told me she had been the love of his life, had his child and disappeared. It tore him apart and his mom told the same story, even said to me she was afraid what he would do if our relationship were to end, she didn’t think he could handle the pain of losing someone he loved again. His dad was dying of cancer, my son and brother were going through their shit. My family was not supportive of me at all they were so consumed with their own problems and to be honest I had always been the one people leaned on in tough times, so they were more angry at me for not being there than concerned for me. They were angry at me for being so “weak” and not standing up to James, not being there for the family. They could never rely on me because my vehicle was never running. I had always thought my brother would never allow any man to hit me, i think we all have this image of our brother defending their sisters honor. I didn’t tell my family anything of what was going on because I didn’t want to worry them and I was preparing to leave. I was trying to save a bit of money, I was used to taking care of myself and being self sufficient, I felt I was strong enough to do it on my own.
But it is not that simple. Life is never simple with the narcissist. The victim keeps getting mixed messages. He wants you out, he is done, it is over. You are heart broken but you accept it and start to look for a place. You are crying and upset of course, you know it is going to be tough for a while until you can find a place and move out. Couples rarely just break up and the next day one of them move out. There is a period of time before one of them can move. Well, with the narcissist, he can hate you in the morning and by the time he gets home from work he loves you again. There were days when he would storm out the door in the morning and call at noon, using his sweet “baby” voice and ask how I was. I would be crying and he would say, “Aw baby, I hate to hear you cry. Meet me here and come ride with me the rest of the day, get out of the house for awhile.” I would meet him and he would act to happy to see me, we would have a great day with me riding with him in the gravel truck and I wouldn’t know what was going on. We would make love, he would be sweet and I wouldn’t know what to do.
So there we go, 2830 words and two hours of typing and I still haven’t come up with a concise, easy to understand reason why the victim stays. I am not even half way through telling all the reasons I stayed. I think sometimes the only thing we can say is, ‘You had to be there. You have to have dealt with it to understand. Trust me, it was hell on earth, he was evil and I am not and never have been crazy, but living with crazy will make you think you are crazy. Don’t judge me, you might not have survived it.”
How do you explain why you stayed? or do you even bother to try any more?