I began writing this story over a sense of dismay over the many stories of domestic abuse I noticed in the media. Initially I would experience some passing sadness over “how awful that would be,” and then move on with my day, perhaps feeling glad that being bludgeoned or belittled were not issues with which I actually had to concern myself.
But the steady current of news stories about women whose partners beat them and left them for dead, or broke their bones and gutted their enthusiasm for life, continued. Eventually I volunteered my services to a local women’s shelter.
I learned that abuse, death and shattered lives are more common than we imagine. The picture is bleak. Statistics from the Canadian Women’s Foundation show that:
Why ever would a woman choose to involve herself with a man capable of delivering so much pain?
I read everything I could find about the issue and I met some amazing women who shared their stories with me. It was heart-breaking. But out of all those dramatic and simple stories I began to weave the story of a woman named Teale who crept down the path that runs through the world of domestic abuse and crawled through the tunnel leading out of it to a brighter life.
Many women stay in abusive situations because they don’t identify themselves as “victims.” They believe things will get better and they are afraid of the consequences of leaving. They are trapped by the lethal emotional cocktail that combines love for their abuser with fear of his anger. And they’re scared to bits by the dread of what’s on the other side of the door marked “Out.”
If you are in a relationship where you find yourself making excuses for your partner’s behaviour, if you feel sad more than you feel joyful, if you find yourself focusing more on getting through your day one small little patch at a time rather than working towards the big dreams beckoning onward from beyond Tomorrow, then I invite you to consider whether the relationship you’re in is leading you to the future you want.
If the answer is “no,” I further invite you to read “Shades of Teale.” If Teale’s behaviour resonates with you, then maybe you would consider taking one more step: finding a counsellor who can help you examine your place in your relationship and your place in your own life. Many women have successfully navigated their way out of a damaging relationship. They lead fulfilling lives and become every day a little more removed from the trauma they lived. These women are no more capable or accomplished than you are. They just made a decision that changed their lives for the better.
If you are in physical danger, please contact the women’s shelter closest to you and get to safety. Don’t waste a minute! Life doesn’t have to be painful to be real. It doesn’t have to hurt.