When I came up with the idea for the “People I Find” section on my blog, I began to think about people whose stories made me stronger, who made me believe more and love more. This is a story that is very real in too many homes and has effected many. This story belongs to someone who wants to maintain her anonymity, what I can tell you is that she is a wonderful human being. We met when we were young and did as most people do, grew apart, and lost contact. I remember when I met her, I could tell she had gumption and confidence, she was a happy bubbly person. Even through this horrible event she had maintained a positive outlook on life and uses her good attitude to influence others. We will all endure trials in this life time, it’s who we become that matters. To the writer of this Unknown Story, I want you to know you have become a beacon of light to many who are seeking safety by sharing your story.
A lot of people tell me how brave I am for leaving my husband. They say that most women don’t find the nerve to leave an abusive marriage until many more years later than I did. But to be truthful, the only reason that I was able to do it was because of the love and support that I had around me. I never thought that I would be one of these women. A “victim” (I happen to hate that word). I always thought of myself as a strong and independent woman. I did not realize how easily manipulated, or even brainwashed I could be. I have learned that anyone is vulnerable to manipulation when it comes to love. I have also learned that love can be used as a tool to poison someone’s mind, and to destroy a person from the inside out. This was, and has been a reality that is extremely hard for me to accept.
When I look back at my relationship with my ex-husband before marriage, I can now see so many red flags. However, I grew up in a very loving family and I was lucky enough to never have been exposed to abuse. I found no reason not to trust him, or to question his intentions. At the time I assumed that the issues in our relationship were normal. Whenever I did question our relationship or how he treated me, he always seemed to convince me that I was being negative, and that I was creating the issues in my head. We spent much of our relationship long distance, and even when he moved closer, we were too busy to see each other. He was the only serious relationship that I ever had. He shared the same religion, and we both wanted to marry young and start a family. That being said, I was engaged at 19 and married at 20 on August 6th, 2010.
After about 3 months, our marriage started to turn sour. It started out with a lot of criticism and talking down to me. I wouldn’t fold his laundry right, clean well enough, put the dishes where he wanted them, etc. It then started turning into him not liking what I was wearing. He would even get angry if I didn’t dress the way he wanted at times. There was not one part of my life that he did not want to change or control. The part that saddens me most was that he used our faith, and the word of God as a tool of his abuse. If I were to question his authority, or stand up for myself, he would use scripture to shut me down…Reminding me of my place in our marriage. He was the leader, and I was to be submissive. I know that there are many godly men who never use scripture or their faith to abuse, good family men, but in my case sadly, that is exactly what happened.
As time went on, things only got worse. I felt as though I was never good enough. I also felt that I had no way out because I did not believe that divorce was an option. His outbursts would get more heated. Every time that I would try to tell him how I was feeling and it turned into out of control rages. He would cry, punch and throw things, even sometimes harming himself, making me feel miserable for hurting him with my words. The result of this was me learning not to say how I feel, in fear of an outburst. I would always try to say whatever it was I thought he wanted to hear. I felt like a robot. I didn’t think for myself anymore. I was just constantly trying to keep him from getting angry. Over time, I learned that there was no way to avoid that. If I told him how I felt, he would get angry, and if I lied about how I felt he would get angry because he didn’t believe me. In one of his fits of rage, he was throwing things and punching, and “accidentally” hit me. When I tried to leave the apartment because I was afraid, he blocked my way and restrained me, crying uncontrollably and apologizing. I ended up holding him crying, actually feeling bad for him even though I was the one who got hit. We got counseling through the church which did absolutely no good. I knew that I couldn’t really say how I felt because once we got home I would have to pay the penalty.
I am going to avoid writing about it in detail, but the abuse became sexual about a year into our marriage. It left me feeling very confused because he was my husband and had a right to my body. He would use scripture to explain that I was his and that I was meant to satisfy him even if I don’t feel like it. He would tell me that if I did what he wanted, that he wouldn’t be so angry and frustrated with me all of the time. Of course that was always a lie, and things never got better if I complied. He was constantly calling, texting, and would get angry if I didn’t respond right away. I was living in constant fear and anxiety. Over time, my friends and family started to catch on without my saying anything. He was getting to be so out of control that he even had some of his outbursts in front of my family. Eventually the abuse was wearing on my body physically. I started breaking out everywhere, having heart issues, insomnia, and my hair was falling out. I felt like I was going crazy and he had convinced me that I was and that it had nothing to do with him. I even went to a doctor to get tested for a mental health disorder. While I was waiting, I found a pamphlet about abuse. It was a test to see if you are in an abusive relationship. I marked 36 of the 38 signs of abuse. Around the same time, I had my best friend and my mom sit me down to tell me that they knew that I was being abused and that they wanted to help me get out. The sad and crazy thing about that is that I had never really admitted that to myself yet, and I was almost relieved to have that kind of validation.
It was years ago in December while he was at work, that I had friends and family help me move out. I had to stay with someone he didn’t know, change my number, and file for a protection order on that very same day. I remember hurting for him, crying over the fact that he would be so heart-broken. In some weird way, I still believed that he loved me. But in the end, I learned that he never loved me. My ex-husband was a victim of abuse as a child, and although it is no excuse, I believe that he wanted to inflict the same pain that he had experienced on me. After 3 weeks, he already found his next victim and has been with her since. He fought the protection order in court, in which he lost. I remember sitting in court, crying and devastated. It was so hard to see him and his family. He laughed, sneered, and talked while I testified. I have had to come to terms with the fact that my husband never really loved me.
I have gone through a very strenuous grieving process dealing with this divorce. My family has as well. Anyone who has been in an abusive relationship of any kind knows that you lose yourself completely. He told me what to do, what say, how to dress, etc. I hadn’t thought for myself in the 2 ½ years I was married to him. I made mistakes in my marriage, and I will never claim that I was the perfect wife, but I have learned that there is NEVER an excuse or reason to treat another human being like he treated me. Many people who are abused blame themselves. There is nothing a person can to do deserve that kind of treatment. I have found so much peace coming to terms with that. It has been over a year now since I have been officially divorced. I have gone through stages of sadness, anger, numbness, extreme happiness, and even some PTSD. Between counseling and the support of all of the people of my life, I have overcome a lot and come so far. I guess I want my story to encourage other people who are either in, or have gotten out of abusive situations. Despite how horrible and hopeless things may seem, if you take one day at a time, little by little, things will get better. There were days I had to force myself to get out of bed, to eat and get dressed, to work, and to socialize. Existing rather than really living can be extremely painful, but over time it became natural again, and even enjoyable like it once was. I am making the choice to take control over this horrible life experience. By making positive things come out of this horrible situation, I feel like I am taking back control over my life. He may not be in my life physically anymore, but I won’t allow him to remain in my life mentally either. Although this takes time, I am on the right path and I hope that everyone knows that this is a possibility for them too. There is always hope and healing offered to us if we so choose to accept it.
If you are seeking help here is the Domestic Abuse Hotline
If you are currently being abused please seek help, whether it be friends, family, authorities or me. Healing can only start when you seek help.
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