Originally published on SheKnows.
There are moments in my life that I can return to easily. I don’t have to close my eyes or envision the surroundings or what it smelled like. It might be a moment I can sit in effortlessly because that was what I was doing — sitting on an old love seat. My daughter and I had just moved in to a little place that was part of a row of cabins that made up the homeless shelter in Port Townsend, Washington. I had $100 dollars, no job and no self-worth.
Mia, my daughter, was already asleep in her Pack ‘n’ Play, and I had a book open in my lap. It was required reading for anyone seeking services at the local Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services. I’d only gotten it yesterday and was already halfway through. Lundy Bancroft was like a voice of reason, but also left me with quaking realizations. His book, so aptly titled, Why Does He Do That?, showed me, gently, that I’d been in an emotionally abusive relationship for the last year and a half with my daughter’s father. More importantly, he showed me I wasn’t crazy.
I entered my new life as a single mother having not worked for a year, and without savings, since he’d spent the few thousand I’d blindly put into a shared account. This is often the case with women running from abusive relationships, where they escape with the clothes on their backs and not much else, if they’re lucky. Getting out puts the victim in the most danger, or the choice to leave is often from a climactic event where she feels she doesn’t have a choice, and flees in fear. But abusers can still have control and use that power, keeping victims in a financial state of uncertainty and poverty.
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If you or anyone you know may be experiencing emotional or physical abuse, please don’t hesitate to contact the Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE).