Cathi’s Signs of Being Abused
I truly realized the deep extent of the abuse the week my now ex-husband tried to convince me to kill myself in front of my 11-year-old daughter. He almost succeeded. I believed every adjective he called me.
I had been completely alienated from my family, friends and work so that I was hopelessly reliant on him. Everyone had given up on me and any hope that I would finally wake up and get out of the marriage, including that I would save my children from the horror of witnessing the unrelenting abuse.
Every single moment of every day of my life at that time was controlled by his emotions and actions. On Friday, September 21, 2007, my 18 year wedding anniversary, I almost died. I wanted to die. Despite surviving that night and being separated from my abuser while he was in jail for trying to kill me – I let him back into my life! Why?
The reasons are endless and ridiculous as I was such a great participant in the abuse cycle. I danced that dance well. But I got a second chance. Sometime during the time my ex was in jail, I learned just enough about myself to escape forever.
I have been divorced for one year and have little if no contact with my abuser. I have survived for now. This is the most dangerous time for me. It was safer when he still lived with me. To some extent, I believed I had control.
But the happiness and peace that I have now and also for my children is worth the fear of not knowing how my story ends. No matter what, life is much, much better. Leaving is much better.
Cathi’s Emotional Signs of Abuse
Fear, Hopelessness, Anger
Cathi’s Story of Abuse
My ex and I married when I was 20 years old. Within a year, he was physically abusing me when he thought he would lose me. He did lose me but I decided I wanted the marriage to work. I could fix him. I had fixed myself so that I could be a good wife.
If only I had listened to my 20-year-old self with my then-great instincts. I did not. It was ok for a while. Then I got pregnant. I became worthless to him because I was not working, I was emotionally needy, and he had too much responsibility. I did not realize until many years later how much I had carried the relationship and the adult responsibilities. When I could not do it, I had no value.
Yet, when I tried to work, if I became successful, it was only because, so I was told, my ex was behind my success. I went back to college. My grades, graduating summa cum laude were because of him. For some reason, I believed it. I believed whatever he told me. I completely lost every part of myself that made me.
Over the years, the verbal abuse was constant but the physical abuse got worse and worse as I lost more of myself which was the very thing my abuser needed to feel good.
My failures caused his world to fall apart which was my fault of course. He got fired, money was tight, he borrowed and scammed thousands from his mother. This was my fault because I was not working, working for less money than I deserved, or whatever reason that was my fault. Nothing I did was right.
His anger and hatred increased which increased the abuse. He tackled me and tried to choke me. I began having panic attacks. I think I was crazier than he was at that time. I stayed. I was paralyzed with fear for my children. I believed that he might get custody, because after all, I was worthless, right? A bad mother?
I believed it all. When he was in his mood, I blanked out. There was a place in my head, he could not reach and that’s where I stayed during his rants and raves. That place saved my life. His violence increased to the point where my family was terrified that he would kill me. I watched my sister and then my brother leave me, out of fear for their own lives. There was no one left which meant the full force of his hatred and anger was directed at me.
He burned my lingerie. He, for the first time, struck me repeatedly in the face. My children, 11 and 7, saw it all. He tried to force me to sleep on the floor with the dogs. When I fought back, he punched me. I left. I came back. I was lost. He began a rant that lasted hours. I retreated into myself. This made him angrier.
He decided I was not honorable. That to have honor I should kill myself because he had been watching the Last Samurai repeatedly for months. He owned several swords. He gave me a choice, he gave me a knife. I could do it myself or he would behead me.
Holding that knife, it would have been so easy. The pain would be gone. But my children would not be safe. My daughter’s screams kept that reality in my mind. Somehow, I said the things he needed to hear long enough for him to calm down and it gave me an opening to run.
The police took him away. When he was released, I believed he had changed and I let him back into my life. I was wrong. Nothing changed with him. Enough had changed with me that I had found strength and love for myself, for my children.
My family and friends had not abandoned me but were waiting for me to ask for help. I asked and the flood gates of love and help and freedom exploded into my life. I escaped forever.
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