I am writing this myTake in response to @CrazyyChick's excellent take Things You Need to Know about Abuse In Relationships and the comments made by a few select individuals who really don't seem to understand what its truly like to be in an abusive relationship. Their naivety leads them to make uneducated responses such as: "I don’t sympathize women who are in abusive relationships, it was their choice" or "No one cares, she made the decision to be with an abusive man".
What these people fail to understand is that it is a much more complex issue than it may seem and that its not as simple as just leaving. Here's why...
I was in a relationship for 5 years with a guy who I thought loved me. It was my first serious relationship, so I obviously had no previous relationship experience. The relationship started off great. He was sweet, attentive, and made me feel like I was the only girl in the world for him.
However, overtime, he began to become very controlling. He would dictate what activities we did, what we would eat at restaurants, and even began to alienate me from my friends. At the time, I wasn't aware that this was abusive behaviour because I was so focused on the positive aspects of the relationship. He also began to show a temper. He would get angry at the smallest things or would get mad if he didn't agree with something I did or said. I began to feel like I had to walk on eggshells just not to set him off. The worst part, he started to become very critical of me and would belittle, making me feel worthless. On a deeper level, you begin to believe you aren't worthy of anyone else.
My self-esteem began to go down and I knew on a subconscious level that this relationship was not healthy. But I was in denial and/or conflicted. I loved him and the way he made me feel at times, but somehow was able to justify his abusive behavior. You begin to focus on the good moments and deny the bad ones. Its hard to describe the hold someone can have on you that you both love and fear.
It was only when the relationship ended (after he broke up with me because he couldn't "deal with the stress of my problems") that I was able to take a step back and evaluate the relationship objectively and see that it was highly toxic. I now know that I never want to be in a relationship like that ever again, and in a way, it has taught me what I want and don't want in a future relationship.
As you can see, its a lot more complex issue than some people think because it is a form of slow psychological/emotional manipulation and control. It is not as simple as just leaving. Again, it is difficult to explain why people don't leave abusive relationships when they have never experienced it for themselves.
I am hoping that this Take helps educate people a little more on the subject and at least try and understand the complexity of this issue. To the people who still fail to try and understand, I will tell you this: don't judge someone unless you've walked a mile in their shoes.