He starts as the perfect gentleman/dream guy. He will have all his peacock feathers on full display. Her family will encourage her, “wow. You finally met prince charming” .

However then starts the name calling and belittling, he reinforces  her insecurities and exploits them.  If she thinks she is fat – he will remind her how fat she is and how amazing it is that he loves her.  If she is an introvert with few friends he will tell her how nobody wants to be around her – except for him.  He showers her with adoration and gifts. He carries on and on and on how much he loves her and how they are destined to be together forever. If she wants to go hang out with friends, he will start complaining that she never pays attention to him. He will tell her about how he could never ever possibly live without her, he threatens suicide if she was to ever think about leaving him.

And he may never even hit her.

Until that one day that he decides to hit her. But she just made him so damn mad…. And we have all gotten so mad that we wanted to break/hit something. This is no different.  She pushed his buttons. She knew that he would get angry if she did ____ and yet she did ___ anyway.  He deserves her respect and if she makes him mad then obviously she doesn’t respect him. He commands respect. He will not be played. He will not be treated like a b****.

She becomes a POW in her own home and she doesn’t even know it.

She wants to leave him – but if she does then she has to admit the abuse. She will have to face the stigma – she will have multiple people question her and ask her why she “put up with it”, she will hear people say, “real women do not tolerate abuse”. She will lose count of the number of people who  ask her “If it was so bad then why did it take you so long to leave?”

She will read articles and blog posts and listen to the rhetoric that reminds her that only terrible mothers stay in abusive relationships. She will be reminded that children should never have to witness domestic violence.

But she stayed to protect her children.  

He has money and resources. He has promised her that if she was to leave him he would get custody and she will never see her babies. Afterall, everyone knows what an amazing father he is – he shows up for all the little league games, he brings cookies for the PTA bake sale, he is a model employee …

Like most perpetrators he does not have an anger management problem. Quite the opposite. No One knows how to control their anger quite like him. He can escalate and deescalate at the drop of a hat. To everyone that knows him – he is calm, cool and collected.  Except when she disrespects him, but that is only natural as he has to put his wife in her place. She can not get away with disrespecting him.

She has bruises that no one can see.

He would lever be careless enough to leave a mark. After all – that is what wife beaters do – and he is no such thing. He just needs to teach her, she must know her place in the household. She blames herself. She knows every single trigger. She knows how to provoke him – and sometimes this comes in handy.  She has a job interview/PTA meeting/client call/girls night at the end of the week. And she knows his escalation pattern. She knows that if she can set him off on Tuesday that he will be super apologetic Wednesday so that she can get a decent night sleep on Thursday.

She is stuck in fight or flight mode.  

She has been conditioned – he escalates and she calmly panics. She wonders if tonight will be the night that things get *really* bad. Perhaps tonight is the night that she decides to fight back – and then the police are called, but by the time they arrive he is cool and calm – she is still hyperventilating, crying and screaming.  The police clearly see that she is the “crazy” one.

Or maybe this is the night – this time he hits her. Again. And Again. And Again. She ends up in the hospital and when her friends come and visit her, the first thing they ask is “Why did you put up with this?”