Domestic Violence: Why Women Stay
5 months ago
He pulled a knife on me, spat on me, stepped on me; still, "love" made me stay
As told to Lisa Armstrong
Chris and I met at work. I worked at a company that produced ammunition for the armed services, and I trained Chris when he started. He flirted with me, but I didn’t pay attention—I’d been married before, he’s 10 years younger, and I thought he was too young. But he swept me off my feet, with gifts, with attention. He noticed the smallest things about me—the fact that I parked in the same spot every day, the type of bread I ate, every little thing.
Basically he was watching me, and I didn’t realize it. It just came off as if he was really interested in me. He played me, and I fell for it because all the attention felt good.
Later, when the relationship got bad, he would tell me: “You were easy to trick. All I had to do was watch you.”
We dated for six months and then got married. At first, things were fine, but then, six months after we were married, one day during an argument, he yelled at me.
“You stupid ass!” he shouted.
I can’t even remember what the argument was about, but he had never raised his voice to me before. I didn’t say one word, but I became fearful just from his physical demeanor. He was not the man I had fallen in love with. Later that evening, he did apologize, and it was the apology he would always offer in our years together: “I wouldn’t have said this or done this if you hadn’t done that.” I was always the one who caused him to get angry. He would also buy me gifts to make up—a new outfit with shoes to match, a new diamond ring—the gifts were great, but what I endured to get the gifts wasn’t worth it. He terrorized me.
The physical abuse started about a month after the verbal abuse. It started with him physically holding me down, restraining me until I would start to cry. Then, each time it would escalate, with him actually pulling a knife on me on one occasion.
Sometimes I would leave. I would go to my mother’s house, but I was embarrassed, so I didn’t tell anyone what was going on. I didn’t tell anyone for the first couple years.
I had never been in an abusive relationship. I was always the one to tell other women, “You don’t have to put up with this.” But I was truly in love with him. I had been married twice before, and I didn’t want to fail a third time by getting divorced. Deep down, I was afraid of being alone. And I truly believed that I could help him. We would talk after each fight, and he would say, “I am sorry. I don’t know why I get so angry. I shouldn’t have done that. Forgive me. It will never happen again. I love you, I can’t live without you. I’ll kill myself if I can’t have you.”
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