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Let me paint a picture for you.
You’re 18. You are living in an overpriced house on a corner lot in the middle of the city. You moved there to get some distance from your parents. They aren’t bad. They just see what you don’t. They see that that boy, the one that you have been with on and off, is bad news. They see that living with six roommates will never end well. They see that you have the potential to move mountains but just need the motivation and encouragement to get to the base of that mountain and push.
But you do it anyways. You make the leap (it’s not up a mountain, but more like off the cliff into the darkness). You move in. Some time passes. It hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows (like your inexperienced 18-year-old self thought) but it’s survivable. For now.
In the time, roommates have come and gone and soon it’s just you and the boy.
Now the boy. He is the key. He is bad. Bad attitude. Bad manners. Just bad. But all sorts of “help me” are written all over him so you do. You help him. You help him feel better after a day at work. You help him feel better after he yells at you for staying out later with your mom. You help him feel better when he punches you in the face and gives you a black eye. Or when he hits you in the mouth and breaks your tooth. You even help him feel better after he takes you to the basement and tells you no one will hear your screams down there.
You help him so much that you no longer know how to help yourself. You are now the one that has “help me” written all over. But you don’t know it.
You don’t know it until you are four months pregnant, hanging out the window of your bedroom after you’ve been repeatedly punched in your belly and ribs. And your eyes have broken blood vessels in them from a lack of oxygen to your brain. And you don’t even notice until that boy—the one that you gave up absolutely everything for—is standing in front of the police saying, “No, sir, I wasn’t trying to hang myself. I just wanted some space.” This moment. This is the moment you know.
You know that no matter how far you go, no matter how much you give, it’s never going to be enough. It will never be enough that you love him, or that you would do anything to help him. He needs to help himself. Just like you do. So that’s when you do it.
You help YOU. Not him. You need to help you and make a change. And everyone that has been driven away after watching the help that you have given and the lack of “help” you have received are all waiting, waiting for you to make that change for YOURSELF.
That’s the thing about domestic violence. Everyone else can see it. They can see the change that needs to be made. But nothing anyone says will make a difference until YOU are ready to make the change. There comes a time in these relationships where the abused will come to this realization. Trying to force them to this point will only push them further from help and closer to their abuser. The cycle of violence is real. And it grabs hold of a person and is a treacherous mistress that won’t let go for anything.
So if you know someone that needs the help, the real help, don’t push them. Don’t leave them. It’s hard. It’s tough for you both. Just be there for them. They will get there. Have faith. Let them know that you are there. No matter what. Sometimes knowing that you have people to catch you is all the push you need.