Why did I stay so long?

Someone asked me today, why didn’t I leave him as soon as I realised what he was doing to me? I paused. Firstly, it wasn’t like leaving a husband or partner where I could sever ties completely. I would’ve had to be courageous enough to completely leave my father, cut him out of my life. I felt like I was bound to him. It was my choice after all to be with him. It would be like breaking a bond of loyalty. I felt extreme loyalty to him. It was something (perhaps the only thing) he praised me for. Of course he did. How else would he keep me there?

I wanted to leave. More than anything. I would often plan my ‘escape’. But then occasionally, I would see a small glimmer of hope that he had changed. I would have my Dad back for a few hours in a day. He would laugh with me, make me a tea and converse with me. And I, stupidly, would forget it all. Happiness would envelope me and I’d feel like I was floating on air.

Then with a thud, life would return to normal. I would do something wrong, something to upset him and a barrage of insults would quickly ensue.

So why did I stay so long?

My mother asks me all the time.

This is all I know.

My misplaced loyalty made it too hard to leave. The guilt was too much. The fear of abandoning him panicked me. However the one thing that kept me there the most was the fact that leaving would just prove his point: I would prove myself to be the “selfish, inadequate pig of a daughter,” he had always accused me of being.

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