How Ali Found Out She Was Being Abused
I have recently separated from my husband after being married 8 years. I have 2 children aged 3 and 1. My marriage has been a roller coaster ride from the beginning. But over the years the lows have got longer and more terrifying. I had thought our problems were to do with my husbands drug addictions, but have since realized that abuse is what has made it so incredibly difficult, painful and confusing for me.
Words Ali Chose to Describe Her Abusive Experience
Terror, Confusion, Anguish
Since my daughter was born 3 years ago, my husband’s abusive behaviour escalated. His words, approach, et cetera had become way more aggressive and violent, and he began making terrifying threats of violence against me, when he was in ‘full swing’. This I recognized as definitely not being right.
In my journal I called it ‘abuse’ or ‘verbal violence’ – but somehow still did not know what this really meant. Until at the end of last year when I decided to separate and went to see a counselor and he said straight out – this was abuse, I still was unsure and thought he might be over stating it.
Then my Mum gave me a paper on emotional abuse, and as I read I might as well have been reading a paper about my husband, word for word. It was scary. I then decided to look up domestic violence on-line and this has been an amazing light bulb experience that has been scary and empowering all thrown in together. It explains so much.
It explains why my marriage has been so difficult right from the start. I still have days where I begin to think that perhaps I’m wrong and it’s not as bad as what I am somehow making out … and then I read back over my journal, over the websites etc. and my eyes are opened again to the awful truth. My husband is abusive and it’s not ok.
His abuse has included a battery of expletive name calling, put downs and derogatory remarks, throwing and breaking things- including things that are important to me and then leaving it for me to clear up, threatening me with physical violence, driving in a way so as to scare me, pretending to strangle me as a joke, making derogatory remarks and making threats to harm my family and friends, saying lies about others so as to hurt me, not letting me cry, constantly telling me to ‘shut up’, deserting me in difficult circumstances and very occasionally physical violence, including kicking my shins, holding my wrists tightly and forcing me to the ground, shoving me, throwing water, milk, wine, coffee at me.
He seems to have no insight into his behaviour and continually blames me for our problems. Saying if only I could had learned over the years to shut up or change, so that I wouldn’t make him so angryetc.
I thought I would share one of my journal entries written in October 2009. It is me coming to terms with the fact that my relationship is abusive. I hope it might be helpful in some way to others, if only to let them know they are not alone with their ‘weird mix of jumbled feelings’:
“It is hard for me to admit that my relationship is abusive. It seems somehow too harsh a word to use – but since I have started using it and started to look back on my marriage for signs of it – it seems to rear its ugly dark head, where-ever I look. It scares me. It is ever so subtle and ever so overt. It is confusing, because it is mixed up with happier memories and feelings of love. It feels somehow disloyal and unkind to point it out. There is also the fact that there are degrees of it to a certain extent probably in every relationship.
It also seems as though I am somehow avoiding my own faults – by focusing on his. It becomes a giant in my mind- also confusing, am I making more of it, than I should? Or have I spent a huge amount of time covering it up, hiding it, ignoring it, placating it, avoiding it, denying it – to myself? Why? You have to survive and keep living somehow.
Is there any hope that things could ever change? I find myself feeling sorry for N -as though it is some illness, or something he can’t help. It is certainly the symptom of his own misery – again, this makes it confusing. Makes me feel bad for making an issue of it, or expecting him to be accountable. How can I hold it against him? I feel guilt – for the grief and misery I will put him through, now that I am no longer prepared to live with grief and misery.
Weird. How did it get so mixed up? Why can I not see this clearly for what it is? For when I look – it’s everywhere, pervading every part of our relationship. The mix of terror, confusion, deep piercing hurt, anguish, grief, uneasiness, fear, mistrust, humiliation, determination to survive – make it work. All this mixed with moments of love, joy, hope – tentative hope. Feelings of ‘this is how it should be’, ‘why isn’t it like this always?’, ‘He does care’, ‘he doesn’t really mean those things’, he does admit he was wrong’.
Then the hope and trust is shattered – again. The roller coaster ride continues. Nothing has really changed. Gradually the trust is eroded. Gradually not all the pieces can be put back together. Gradually a taller, thicker, wider wall is built, to protect.
Vulnerability is no longer possible.
Words of love, affection, affirmation – gradually lose their meaning as the hypocrisy becomes clearer and clearer. They can no longer be believed, trusted. As hope is proved false again and again. There is nothing left but despair. The most laughably trivial things will bring back that stupid spark of hope. A cup of tea, a kind word, a shared dream. Maybe it’s possible? Maybe things will be better now? Insidious- hope. The eternal optimist. Willing to hide the obvious reality.
Yet somehow not so obvious. How could I have let this go on and on? I thought I was being loving, forgiving, full of grace. Pretending it isn’t there has only made it worse.
There is for some reason great shame attached. When someone else talks about the abuse, I immediately feel my marriage and N are under attack and I want to spring to the defensive. It also hurts to admit it. And someone else pointing it out, makes me face this hurt. That is scary. If it is faced up to and brought to much out into the open – I can’t carefully package it away. It makes me concerned for N and I want to protect him and hide his faults from the judgment of others. Whether the other is right or not. Such a weird mix of jumbled feelings.”
Share Your Experience: Break Your Silence