At what point do you intervene in someone’s life? Sometimes, even when their lives are in danger, people will tell you to stay out of it and keep your mouth shut, so when do you say “no, enough’s enough, I am not going to sit back and be silent any longer.”

Not one person ever intervened in my lifetime. When adults could have said or done something, they made the choice not to because it was the 90s and it was “none of their business.” But today the rules are different, so at what point do you step in and say “if you aren’t going to protect yourself, I am going to do it for you?

Here’s the thing. I cannot imagine the unmitigated hell that comes with seeing someone you love experiencing domestic abuse, because I don’t have to. I lived it. Repeatedly.

The sad truth is there is absolutely nothing you can do that will help someone living with domestic abuse because so many of us will fight to the death to protect our abusers. We do it because the abuse conditions us to either hate or love them, sometimes both, but it’s always our fault. We learn this, and it makes it hard for us to just get up and leave.

It’s not that we don’t want a better quality of life, it’s honesty that we believe that we deserve what it is that we’re getting because if we were better, stronger, smarter, faster, it wouldn’t happen. To us.

“I am living in hell from ONE day to the NEXT. But there is NOTHING I can do to ESCAPE. I don’t know where I would GO if I did. I feel utterly POWERLESS, and that feeling is my PRISON. I entered of my own free will, I LOCKED the door, and I threw AWAY the key.”― Haruki Murakami

Sometimes it’s not about what we deserve. Sometimes it’s about being too afraid to leave, or worse, it’s that we genuinely care for our abusers and we don’t want to be the bad guy. The problem with all of these reasons, and they are valid reasons to those living with domestic violence, is that each and every one of them will get you killed if you stay.

I keep thinking back to my friend who I knew for sure was being abused, I didn’t know how to help her but I knew she badly needed to get out, and thankfully she did, but that’s only because it was her choice. It had to be her choice because it was never going to work any other way. I could have dragged her kicking and screaming away from him, but she would have gone back a hundred thousand times until she had decided she had enough.

Same with family members. I knew and know of plenty of women who left and who leave, but they keep going back because they so badly want to believe “this” time is going to get better. This time, it’s going to be different.

But it’s never better, it’s never different. What confuses me is men who are abused, not because I don’t believe that it happens, but because men are supposed to be big, strong, and impenetrable, right? So if that’s true how can big strong men be abuse victims? Easy, they love their abusers too.

Abuse comes in all forms and it’s ugly every single time, it strips away who you could be, and turns you into something you were never meant to be. Often times the only way out is to leave, and I mean to run as if your life depended on it.

I STAYED because if I left, it would mean ADMITTING that what I saw as “accidents” and MISUNDERSTANDINGS, was really the domestic violence situation that EVERYONE warned me about Growing Up. The Accidental Victim who’d been WARNED but BLINDED by love. – Victims and Survivors Everywhere.

How many of your neighbors do you really know? Showed up out of nowhere, got a fake-sounding name, skittish, looking like they’re running from the law but probably running from a big bad abuser? Sound familiar?

I’ve had a few neighbors like that over the years, neighbors who were in witness protection or who were being protected because of the level of abuse that they had experienced, but I never ever thought or imagined it could be me. Until I woke up and realized it had always been me.

It took me four years to break down the conditioning that convinced my brain to believe that it had never happened to me. It took four years to decompress from twenty-plus years of domestic violence, sexual abuse, rape, gang, and cult rape. And I’m still not done.

It will be the rest of my life, that’s how long it’s going to take to heal from the trauma of domestic abuse. As a victim, it took me a very long time to understand that being slapped, kicked, and kissed against my will wasn’t okay. I had seen all of that growing up and thought it was acceptable, it wasn’t until I saw serious violence myself that I started to unravel, that I slowly began to fall apart.

I didn’t recognize PTSD in myself because I didn’t have a clear understanding of the symptoms and while everyone around me got it perfectly no one said a word because we all grew up in the era of “it’s not our business.”

While I think it’s important to let domestic abuse survivors tell their own stories, I also think it’s our job to tell them they deserve better, to help fight the negative conditioning they may receive at school, work, or home.

There are ways to circumvent what is happening to the victim, but you have to be willing to let it get ugly because the abuser will not let go easily.

They never do, they will break every bit of their victim into pieces if they have to, and if you’re going to intervene you better be ready to fight hypnosis, emotional and mental breakdowns, and the inevitable “it was always my fault, I could have been better, I should have made better choices,” argument that comes with having survived domestic violence and abuse.

When you live in the suburbs, no one wants to believe your abuser is really an abuser, even when it’s obvious, so they keep their mouths shut. When you live in the city and your abuser is a gangster, well you should have known better, so it’s really your fault.

Victims and survivors don’t win in the battle of domestic abuse, only abusers do. To this day there are women in prison for stealing bread while child pedophiles, rapists, and abusers, walk free every single day.

We didn’t choose to be abused, we choose to stay and we choose to leave, but we don’t choose to be abused.

When I decided to LEAVE, I Had Nowhere to GO! I had no money, but tons of ties to the COMMUNITY around me. So I Pulled a PELICAN Brief and I told EVERYBODY I knew what HAPPENED to me. It Was the ONLY way to ensure they couldn’t KILL me after. I Still Worry Every DAY. – Devon J Hall

We stay thinking we can fix our abusers, that love alone will save the day, we stay because we’re afraid to leave, we stay for a thousand reasons but not a single one of them is an excuse for us to continue being abused. So if you see someone being abused, step in. Call the police if you have to, do what it takes to save a life, or be a part of destroying one by remaining silent, you can’t have it both ways.

Victims in particular of domestic abuse, are brainwashed by the abuse, by being bullied as kids, by having a bad day. We are hard-wired to believe in the people that we love, and so when they hurt us we make every excuse in the book to release them from the responsibility of their behavior but we can’t do that anymore.

Not just as survivors, but also as human beings, we need to step forward into the light and talk about the shit that makes us feel like crap. We need to stop taking responsibility for their rage issues, their inability to trust, and their own PTSD. It’s not our fault, it has never been our fault, it will always be the fault of the person who hits us where it hurts the most just to see us cry.

No one deserves to be hit, kicked, or poisoned by abuse, so if you or someone you know is experiencing this PLEASE please for the love of God, get some help. Call a neighbor, call the police, go to a shelter, run and be homeless, but don’t live with abuse just because you think it’s easier. I promise you it’s not.

Being free is hard, but I’d rather be alone and free for the rest of my life than ever let another man touch me in a way that causes pain ever again.

Sending all my love,

Devon J Hall

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