A Letter to the Mother Who is Choosing Not to Stop Child Abuse

Dear Woman,

Stop it.

Stop. It.

Stop all of it.

You are not a victim. You are a survivor.

You get to choose what you will experience.

So, file those papers. Pack his bags. Leave them on the doorstep. Change the locks. Invite friends over. Have them block the garage doors with their cars. Ask them to stay the night.

This man you married, you owe him nothing. There were good times. There was love. You had hope. You put in the time. But what you had slipped away years ago, not the first time he used his strength in anger, but the second. That day, he made a choice not to change. He has made that choice again every day since.

Pack his bags. Do not let him say goodbye. Not now. Be ready to have the police escort him away. Among the papers you should file is a restraining order. Do it not to hurt him, but to keep the children safe.

Do not let him say goodbye. He said goodbye when he hurt you. He screamed goodbye when he hurt your children.

You don’t want it to be true because it is hard and it hurts and it means you will have to step back into the strength you think you lost.

But, the truth is, he is goodbye. Lose him before you lose everything.

Stop it.

No one can do this for you. You do not get the chance to look back in doubt and slide off the blame.

You think this is a failure. It is a success.

You think you will lose something beautiful. You already have.

You lost yourself when you brought your children back to him. When you let him hurt them one more time. Two more times. When you let him hurt you and told yourself the lie, again, that he would change. That your life will ever be better with him in it.

You know what life will look like with him in it, and it is far worse than any challenge in a life without him.

So stop telling yourself that it will be hard. It will.

Stop worrying about how much it will hurt. It will hurt a lot. But it will be harder and hurt more if you stay even one more day.

You can do this.

You absolutely CAN.

Now is the time to recover yourself. Now is the time to let your children heal.

With him, this will not happen.

Give him up. Grieve. Find strength in your children’s resilience.

Stop it. You are the only one who can stop it.

Stop it now.

Shawna Ayoub

Shawna Ayoub is an essayist, fiction writer, poet and instructor with an MFA in creative writing from Indiana University. Some of her work has been published in The Manifest-Station, Role Reboot, [wherever], The Huffington Post, The Oxford Review and Exit 7. Her writing explores the intersections of race, place and survivorship. She writes with honesty about her own experience in order to transform pain.

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