One really difficult thing about leaving a batterer—for me, anyway—is that I never really got to leave. I’m still here, and he’s still doing the same things. Meaning living out an abusive dynamic on a daily basis. Except now he uses the kids more to get at me. Tells them things that they should say to me. Encourages them to wish out loud that I was never a part of their lives.
And when I ask people for help for them or for me or for any of us, they say there’s nothing they can do.
And when I look for books on how to heal and recover, I realize that there aren’t any.
There’s no healing program for people who can’t stop the abuse.
You only get to heal after.
And for me, and for my children, there is no after. We still live with and around him every day.
He still lights bonfires and gets them excited about burning special mementos I’ve given them. Or he might burn my daughter’s clothes to teach her a lesson when he wants her to spend more time at his house. He tells her that if she won’t stay with him, then she doesn’t need those clothes anymore, anyway.
And there’s no help for her. Because when I tell the professionals who have been assigned to help us, they tell me that I need to back off the man and let him parent his own way. I get to parent my way. So I need to stop talking bad about him.
He’s a really nice guy when he’s in session, so I think they must assume that he’s nice all the time. That I’m exaggerating. Or crazy or something.
That’s how they treat me, anyway.
But I have a photo my son took of a charred shirt. And videos of the fires from their phones.
Maybe they want me to mind my own business.
But I’m not making anything up.
And I’d really love to give my family a chance to heal.