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It's ok to talk about it is great advice. It was always some deep secret that nobody could ever ever find out. The shame was too great, the fear of consequences too strong. Of course when children are abused (especially sexually) this natural tendency is usually reinforced with vague or explicit threats of nebulous warnings of harm. This may be true of spousal abuse. Children (and I assume spouses) believe it's their fault--in part because they are told exactly that so often and with such emotion. It's my understanding that the abusive spouse is often very talented at manipuation and gas lighting. After having been subtly or overtly removed from close contact with family and friends, they don't really have someone they feel they can trust to help them. My mother was abused for 20 years and she never felt she could go to anyone for help (though in those days--40s and 50s--there really wasn't much that could be done other than family retaliation, which might have made matters worse).
I had a friend whose husband was abusive (we found out many many years later). Had she come to me then I'd have had trouble believing her since he was "such a nice mild-mannered guy". I missed the signs even though my father was also "such a nice mild mannered man who wouldn't hurt a flea". Just humans, no fleas. Once she came home from a trip beat all to hell with a bizarre story of a drunken party where a friend's husband beat her. My first thought was to be angry at her husband for being such a wimp that he let someone beat her and did nothing. Where was my head? The signs were there. I bet there are a lof of "wow, how could I not know?" stories out there by friends and families of spousal abuse victims. This probably makes these abusive situations worse since "nobody would believe me" is true in some situations. I'd hope most people are wiser than I.
In Response to Re: 40 years:
I have been subjected to both parental and marital abuse. Luckily the physical abuse was only in one marriage and I left quckly after surviving it in childhood. However it is the emotional abuse that is so difficult to recover from even out of the situation.
I agree with the advise to see a therapist. I am so grateful to the one I saw for more reasons than I can list, but the main thing is that he let me know that it was OK to talk about it to other people. That is what we have been trained over our lifetime to hide, feeling that it is somehow our fault that it is happening. Keeping this secret has kept us from getting close to people and keeping us alone and isolated.
I am glad to see that you have made the first step.
Posted by PattyDiane