One of the most vivid childhood memories I have is of the late summer when I turned six. My Mom and Dad had been fighting for days. He had been drinking and what began as a loud shouting match escalated into a one-sided boxing match. The neighbours, fearing for the safety of my mother and her five children, called the police. The RCMP came, complete with sirens wailing, matched only by the howling of my poor battered mother and her two little girls and three sons. It's not a memory I treasure.
Like many children who grow up in a dysfunctional family, I perpetuated the nightmare with my first marriage. Accustomed to hearing that women are stupid, good for only one thing and not to be trusted, I wasn't surprised when my new bridegroom, who had just vowed to love and cherish me, started acting as if he hated me.
In fairness to him, he also came from a troubled home. Drink and fights were the norm for him too. And we were young, very young. Neither of us knew how to break the cycle. Back in those days, transition houses weren't available for women needing help. If the police were called, most times the cop at the door was embarrassed to be there and could only offer "Pipe down or we'll have to take you in," as a solution. If you actually screwed up your courage and went to your family pastor, you were told that keeping the marriage together was paramount. And if your church was Old Testament based, you could even get the lecture that the man was the head of the household and was meant to be obeyed.
Thank God things have changed. Or have they? Women are still afraid to leave abusive relationships. They're still suffering from long-term health problems caused by marital stress. Women are still denied a decent quality of life; they're still isolated from friends and family by bullies.
We, the morally-superior public, wonder how someone could stay under the circumstances.
"They must like it," we think. Nothing could be farther from the truth. People stay in abusive relationships because their self-esteem is lower than a snake's belly. Because they've been told they're useless, their children and/or pets will be harmed if they leave or that they'll get nothing if they leave. For women who suffer every day in that kind of partnership, I can only say please understand that regardless of what you've been told, you are a valuable member of our society. Please make the call to the Yew Transition House 604-885-2944. Or if you or your children are in physical danger, call 911. The police have come a long way in dealing with domestic disputes. Love should never hurt.