A woman on Oprah, victim of horrific abuse, made a comment about always knowing she would leave a man for hitting her, but that she didn't realize that by that time it was too late.
I live in a state with some of the highest rates of crime against woman in the country. I know too many women who have been abused. I know women who have been nearly killed, who have been strangled while pregnant, who have permanent scars from the men in their lives.
Why? I wish I knew. I wish I could take every ounce of domestic violence away. I wish my daughter didn't have to grow up in a world where this is so commonplace. How am I supposed to protect her? How do I teach her to know which partner will truly love her, and which one will shred her dignity, her mind, her body?
It seems to start off so minutely. Just these little jabs, this slow pecking away of self esteem, imperceptible to the naked eye. Snide comments about looks, intelligence, talent, common sense, housekeeping habits, anything. Slowly escalating to outright insults, name calling, blatant condescension.
He makes you feel as though you have brought it on yourself. He is a manipulator who makes you think it is all your fault. He makes you feel that everything that goes wrong in his life is at your hands.
I know this firsthand. I was in the place where I was made to feel low. I was made to believe I was nothing and deserved worse. I literally lost all of myself, and thought there was nothing in me worth loving.
I was lucky. When he threw the shoe at my head, I ended it. I was able to go to my parents. I was able to get out.
It was a long recovery. I didn't date for a year, trying to find myself. Through friends, family, faith, and soul searching, I had regained most of my former self by the time I met my gorgeous and loving husband.
But I know so many who are not so lucky. Girls who believe the man who could do this to them could really love them. (they can't.) Who believe they will get better on their own. (they won't.) And who truly think that they are at least partially to blame. (they aren't.)
I want so much for them. I want to give them strength and power. I want to give them a place to go. I want to take away the hurt and restore the confidence. I want them to be the people I know they were before.
I want them to be healed so I can have hope for my daughter's future. I can only instill so much in her, I can only go so far.
At some point, I will have to let her go and let her fly.
I am terrified by this thought. Chilled to the bone.