“I’ll support whatever decision you make, Fina, ” reverberates through my head. A seemingly supportive statement has taken hold of every thought. I need to make a decision. You need to make a decision, Fina.
I could still press charges if I wanted. Did you know that you have three years (in Missouri) to press charges after leaving a relationship filled with violence? Because I didn’t, but now that I do, well, it’s something that I can’t quiet in my head. I’m constantly fighting battles for myself and I’m not sleeping near enough. With all of that said, the overarching question, the one I can control and must answer by July is, “Is the risk of being seen worth the gain?”
For quite some time I feared that his children would be taken away, or that I would go bankrupt trying to fight this battle. When the bruises were fresh, I feared a million different things. But as the last two years have unfolded, as I’ve gained strength and clarity through counseling, and as it doesn’t feel so scary to face him or my past, the fiery, strong piece inside of my heart is saying, “It’s time, Fina. Stand up and show the world exactly who you are.” The fears of my past are so much smaller now, and because they are I want to do the things I couldn’t before.
His words still live inside of me. I’m still fighting the battle, even though he’s not here. Would it be different if I purposely intertwined our lives again? Would I suffer more? less? Would the suffering go away? Would the “Fina, you shouldn’t leave the house looking like that,” and the “You’re worthless without someone else around to fix your problems,” go away , too? Maybe the only way to silence these thoughts is by stripping them of their power. After all, his behavior has been my biggest problem, and the war inside of my head keeps raging on because I haven’t smothered the fire.
5 months and then my opportunity is gone. I’ll never be able to change my mind then, and it’s all weighing heavy on my head and heart. When things are nearing an end, when opportunities become missed ones, when time dictates for you: it’s only in these times that we see how important the other side was. I have lived with enough regrets that I can’t allow this to be one of them.
Abusers should be known and held accountable for their actions, and if that means that I have to be labeled as a ‘victim’ or ‘plaintiff,’ a ‘weak’ woman or ‘uneducated,’ or ‘impoverished,’ then maybe it’s time to break down each stereotype, because I’m none of those things. And I think he knows that, which is why he couldn’t let me go for so long: I didn’t let him win.
But his idea of winning and mine are separate. He thinks he’s lost because I’m not there to be his toy anymore, and I think I’ve lost because I haven’t stood up to him. He hasn’t been held responsible for his actions, so I’m back in my head again, knowing that the questions I’m asking are critical to my future.
I have 5 months before the door is closed forever. How many women look back and wish they would’ve done more? How many regret stepping forward? How much of their past should dictate my future?
Is the risk worth the gain?
I think I’m nearing an answer. And I think that answer is yes.