You talked back again. You didn't wear the right dress. You looked foolish in front of his friends. You made him look foolish in front of his friends. You were too slow. You weren't slow enough. Dinner wasn't cooked enough... or too much... it was overseasoned or underseasoned... it was late... or it was on-time but he was late and now it's cold. And it's all your fault. Whatever it was that pissed him off, frustrated him, or just generally put a crimp in his day. So he hit you, knocked you down, yelled, shouted, screamed, made you feel ashamed, stupid, ugly... worthless...
And you deserved it. So you took whatever he dished out and accepted that it was your due. And you'll take it again tomorrow because he did apologize for hurting you and he promised he won't do it again. Or he didn't apologize, but you know he's sorry deep down. It wasn't him talking. He had a bad day. It was the booze or the drugs or the chemical imbalance caused by whatever. He didn't mean it. He was just playing around. He's really a nice guy. And he loves you.
Sound familiar? It's either happening to you right now, has happened to you in the past, or you know someone it's happening/happened to.
Physical abuse. Mental abuse. Emotional abuse. One of them or another, or a combination of all three.
The first time I remember hearing about it was 1987 - I was in high school and everyone knew R's boyfriend was whoopin' on her. And I knew then no man would ever be allowed to whoop on me. And they didn't. I didn't take that kind of abuse.
I had a boyfriend once who slapped me across the face... but he was kidding around. I was 18. Took me about a year - and our engagement - before I broke up with him. I ran into his next girlfriend years later. He broke her arm.
I had another boyfriend in college who was joking around with me one day, acting like he was going to hit me. I told him "If you ever hit me, it'll be the last thing you do." To which he replied, "What are you going to do about it?" A smiled slowly and said "I don't have to do a damn thing." then proceeded to name off all my really large male friends who would happily pound him into something resembling porridge. We broke up a couple weeks later.
No, I never endured the physical abuse, and I thought I was wise. I never saw the mental abuse coming except in retrospect. Sometimes, looking back, I think it would've been better if Mr. X had pounded on me. Then I would've had an excuse to leave him long before I did. Perhaps someone would've seen the bruises and stopped him, or made me see that I didn't deserve that kind of abuse. Perhaps if I'd still had my really large male friends, they would've crushed him into paste for me. Except he made sure I didn't have any friends, so I'm not sure how that would've worked. I tried to end it once, but he sucked me back with promises of counseling and therapy and love. I finally did end it 8 months later. And I learned.
Not well enough, apparently, because he wasn't the last to make me feel like shit for just being me, but eventually, I got the point. I didn't deserve that. No one does.
No one has the right to hurt you. Most especially, the people who claim to love you do NOT have the right to hurt you. Not physically, not mentally, and not emotionally.
Get out. Get away. Remove yourself from the situation, and if you can't, find someone who can help you. And if you're staying 'for the kids', think about what the abuse is doing to them. They see, they hear, they know. Your kids will grow up thinking that kind of behavior is acceptable. Your girls will allow it to happen to them, and your boys will do it to their women. Because if it was okay with Mom, it's okay.
Get out. Don't endure years of it until you're finally so fed up you're this close to either killing him or killing yourself. Don't endure it so long that when you finally get away, you spend years afterwards with a kind of PTSD - so that twenty years later, you still have occasional nightmares about it (even though you're safe and happy with a real man who knows what love is and shows it daily).
Get out. Because you deserve better. You always did.