I am coming up on the 12th anniversary of my leaving my abuser. It may seem strange that I am posting this personal story now, so many years later, but it has taken this long for me to feel that I can write or talk about it. I find that I am reflecting upon that time a lot these days. I guess it is middle age that is prompting me to post this story.
I am constantly aware that I am so lucky to still be alive. I am so lucky to have escaped. I married at 22. I guess I thought I loved him. I didn’t have very much self esteem and quite frankly I thought he was the best I’d do. I don’t know what happened to me in my early 20’s…I thought if I didn’t marry soon, I’d never marry. Now I would tell anyone to wait until they are 30 or older! Anyway, there were signs of abuse before we married that I chose to ignore. He had a bad temper. He blamed everyone else for his shortcomings. He threw water in my face one time and he was terrible to his mother. I should have run, but I was young and basically stupid.
He seemed to NEED me soooo much. I fell for it. The emotional and verbal abuse was constant…almost every day once we married. The physical abuse began a year into the marriage, not two weeks after our son was born. He threatened to take my son away. He screamed at me, threatened me. I was so terrified that I began to hemorrhage from the emotional stress. That scared him, but not before he’d smashed me into the wall a couple of times. As time went on, we fell into the classic cycle of domestic violence. There was a physical attack or terrifying episode every six months or so, followed by his apologies and promises. In between, it was constant emotional abuse. I left him when our son was two after a very bad beating which left my fingers broken and my head covered with bruises.
He cried, he apologized, he promised never, never again.
I filed for divorce. He convinced me that our son would suffer without a father. I held fast to obtaining the divorce, but little by little he inched his way back into our lives. My divorce became final, but I moved back in with him. Even then, though, I think I knew that he hadn’t really changed and that it was just a matter of time. I was right. I stayed 8 more years and had two more of his children. I was afraid to leave because I thought the people who had helped me the first time I left him would not help me again because I’d gone back. It was 8 years of absolute hell. I never knew what would set him off. It didn’t matter how much I tried to second guess him, I never could and there never seemed to be any identifiable reason for his outbursts.
He used to tell me that he “bought and paid for me” which I find funny as I was the one who paid all the bills. He also told me that my problem was I was too independent. He loved to tell me that no one would want me with three kids and how would I take care of them anyway. Everything I did or said was open to ridicule. He even ridiculed the way I walked.
I have read other women’s accounts of abuse and they have said their abusers picked on the way they walked too. I find that so odd. Are they all the same man??? I wonder…
I thought for a long, long time about leaving him. I kept trying to save up money, but it was impossible. I thought about leaving him every day for two years before I actually left. He had become less and less sorry for his abuse.
I realize now that I was sending out a message that it was OK (every time he beat me and I didn’t leave) and now he felt it was his right. I got beat up for the last time on August 17, 1993. I left in the middle of the night with my three children and two suitcases. Twelve years ago…I am grateful for every day I have had since then. I have survived and put together a life for my family. It was difficult at first, I had no money and my ex stalked me all the time. Finally after several arrests for violating the restraining order he moved away.
I have had to struggle financially (he won’t pay child support and the authorities seem powerless to make him) but I have my freedom and my life.
If any woman is reading this who is in a similar situation to mine I can only say this: Get out now! He will not change. They never change and you could end up dead. I know if I had not left the night I did, I would not be here today to tell this story. So many women have not gotten out in time. I was one of the lucky ones and maybe it’s why I feel compelled to write this at this time. I was lucky. And I am free.
~~ LS, 45 USA, Freedom is priceless