Written by: BTSADV Survivor
Our relationship started out alright. It was new, he was different, and I thought I was in love because he seemed nicer than the rest. After a few weeks went by, he was already living with me. After a few months passed, we were engaged. At one year we were married, and just a few months later, I was pregnant with our first child. Everything seemed to go so quickly that the last six years of my life felt like they were on fast-forward.
I noticed the changes before we ever got married. Silly me, I thought getting married would change him. I was against marriage back then because of what happened with my parents. Somehow, he convinced me to get married even though I never wanted to.
As soon as I took his last name, things got so much worse. It was like he somehow owned me. I should have seen it in the beginning. I used to tell myself that I would never allow someone to treat me the way that my father treated my mother. I witnessed it happen, and I vowed to never have that happen to me. Little did I know that I would be following the same, unfortunate path.
It started out small: little bits of attitude here and there. Instead of wanting to go out with our friends, he wanted to stay home. I thought it was because he was a homebody, and I wanted to make him happy, so I complied. Then things changed a bit more aggressively after we got married.
He was clingy, controlling, and constantly manipulating me by making me feel bad for something I said or did, and he threw fits of rage when I would go out with my friends without him. Eventually, this behavior forced me to stay away from everyone. We would go to his family events, but he would throw a fit when I wanted to go to mine. I pulled away from my friends and my family and rarely saw anyone other than him.
When I got pregnant with my first child, my initial reaction was excitement, but that quickly took a turn. I always knew I wanted to have a baby, but it was also only three months into our marriage, and I didn’t feel he was ready for it. It turns out I was right because my life went from this man having temper tantrums to having full out abusive arguments that would cause me to have constant anxiety attacks and mental breakdowns.
Our fights became so bad that my mom threatened him and said if he couldn’t keep his shit together, then he would find somewhere else to live for the remainder of my pregnancy. I ended up having to go to the hospital twice during my entire pregnancy because I began to bleed. The doctors told me I was under too much stress and I needed more rest. He blamed it solely on the fact that he just wasn’t ready to be a father.
I always made excuses for him, before, during and even after all of this. I told myself that we were going to be fine because we were having a baby. I started blaming myself and telling everyone it was always my fault why we fought so much. He made me think I was crazy and didn’t have a handle on my emotions because I was pregnant.
But I know now that none of that was the case. I wasn’t crazy. My emotions were not out of whack just because I was pregnant. It was because no matter how many times I broke down and cried and begged, no matter how many times I tried to reason and talk to him, he wouldn’t have it, and he wouldn’t change. I rearranged the room by myself at seven months pregnant to set it up for our son. He refused to help no matter how much I asked. So, I did everything alone, and I would continue to do everything alone, even after our second child.
It wasn’t until my second child was born that I realized I was so unhappy and couldn’t do it anymore. My second child was completely unexpected and only happened because he decided to sleep with me one night while I was asleep. He did this often, and sometimes I wouldn’t wake up until the very end because I was always so tired from working all day and then coming home and cleaning the house without his help.
When I had my daughter, the first night in the hospital was so hard, and I felt so terrible because I couldn’t touch her. I was so depressed and withdrawn because her father had taken away any happiness I could have had with both pregnancies, and the thought of having to do it alone with another child killed me inside.
I cried myself to sleep as she cried next to me because he wouldn’t get up to help me care for her. I blame him as the reason it took me a few days to let myself connect with her. I blame him for the distance I felt from her and why that first night I didn’t want to touch her. But a day went by, and I finally came to my senses; nothing could change the love I feel for her.
I did everything alone for a few months after she was born. Eventually, I got sick of it, as I always did, and threatened a divorce again because I thought one last time might help. He didn’t believe me, and life went on. When my daughter was six months old, I found the courage to tell him I was leaving him. I told him that I couldn’t do it anymore and I was done. He threatened to kill himself if I left…. So, I stayed.
Over time, his behavior escalated. I feared for my children because our fights started getting more aggressive and my son was already used to the fighting. I didn’t want that life for my children. My husband became more verbal against the kids, yelling and screaming at them for no reason. He would push me to be physically violent, and when I would lash out at him, he would hurt me worse and blame me for starting the fight.
One time, he got in my face and screamed at me, and I pushed him back against the wall. In response, he grabbed my arms and slammed me into the front door knob. I eventually had to go to the doctor because even a months after that incident, my side still hurt like it had just happened. It turned out that he bruised my ribs.
He wouldn’t let me leave the house without permission. He wouldn’t let me stay out too long because I had to be home with the kids. He was getting meaner and saying nasty things to me, making me feel even more worthless than I already did. I hated myself and who I was, and I hated him for turning me into that. Finally, I gave up and said enough was enough.
I made plans before I left to stay with my mom. She gladly took me back, making sure I had my things in order and was ready to go the moment I told him. And again, he threatened suicide. I stood my ground and told him then do it. He grabbed a kitchen knife and attempted to kill himself in front of our children. That was the last straw for me. I was out and moved in with my mom.
When I left, he told everyone I was cheating on him. He turned a lot of people against me and told everyone a lot of our personal information to win people over. He even tried and almost won over some of my family, but eventually, they saw what he was doing.
After all of this, he ruined my best friend’s reputation, and he told everyone that it was her fault for not forcing me to stay. He made everyone believe it was all my fault, not his, and made everyone pity and feel sorry for him. He even tried to make me feel guilty and pity him.
He stalked me for months. I had to threaten him that I would get a restraining order before he backed off. For a long few months he continued to cry and beg me to come back, but every time, I would refuse. I wasn’t going back. I knew that.
I’m still living with my mom, trying to scrounge money for the divorce and child support, because this man says he can’t afford child support and is losing the house we had lived in for the last year of our marriage – even though he makes three times as much as me. It’s been over a year now, and even though it was hard, even though some days the guilt still creeps in, I do not regret my decision. I know I did this for my kids and for me. I have met someone during that time as well who treats my kids and me with the love, care, and respect that we deserve.
If you are going through any of this, you are strong. You can get out, too. Don’t let them make you believe that you are weak. Don’t let them make you hate yourself. Don’t let them tell you that they are all you have. Reach out for help. Do not stand for the abuse. That isn’t real love.
**If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, there is help. You can visit the Break the Silence website at www.breakthesilencedv.org, chat with one of our helpline advocates at 855-287-1777, or send a private message through our Facebook page.
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