A lot of well-meaning people ask me why I stayed in an abusive situation for so long, and it's actually a very common reason why many women stay in abuse.
Over a period of time, from reading books on abuse, journaling, praying, I finally admitted, and then accepted that I was in an abusive marriage -- and that I had to get out. My next thought? My child.
See, I was the buffer between his psychological, emotional and verbal abuse and my daughter. I buffered all the time, almost every single day. From the time she woke up to the time she went to sleep (and all through the night). I remained ready at any moment, to spring into action and stand between her and him, literally, physically, emotionally, whatever it was, so that I could keep her from being harmed.
When he would start in on me, I’d tell her to go watch TV or go up to her room (and pray she didn’t hear him). Trying to do everything I could to buffer and protect her mind, and heart. Protecting her spirit, self-esteem, and self-worth.
“Holy crap, once I leave him, I have to share custody. My kid is going to be alone with him. And then what happens? I'm not there to buffer. I'm not there to protect her. Oh shit.”
This decision was gut-wrenching.
I knew he would fight me for custody. I knew she was going to be there, unprotected, with him, for possibly half of her childhood. What the hell do I do with THAT?!
Before I left, I learned that courts typically want to award 50/50 custody. I had to decide if I stay and buffer, is that better? My kid is still going to be abused if I stay and buffer, but if I stay and buffer, maybe it's better than if I leave and there's no buffer?
It felt like I was throwing my child to the wolves. Here I was, courageous enough to save myself, knowing it was so toxic and harmful for my daughter to be involved in abuse as well. Yet, to stay was killing me inside, every day. And I wanted to give her a chance at a healthy life. And to leave meant I’d place her, unprotected, in the abuser’s warped mind and hands.
It is almost an impossible decision for any woman to make. Yet I, like thousands of other moms, decided it was riskier to stay than to leave. That I would rely on my God and my faith to help us both through the unknown. I believed, with the strongest faith I could gather, that God wanted us to leave and He would protect my child in ways I couldn’t by being her buffer. I am incredibly grateful today that He proved faithful and my daughter is thriving away from our abuser.