What’s It Like to Live Life Without Abuse?

Video recorded for HealthyPlace.com and Verbal Abuse In Relationships Blog


Hi! This is Kellie Jo Holly. I write the Verbal Abuse In Relationships blog over at healthyplace.com.

I’ve been out of my abusive relationship for about two years. It hasn’t been a cake walk, I won’t lie. The beginning was pretty difficult. But here I am, I’m sitting in my own peaceful kitchen surrounded by four cats who caused never-ending heartbreak back at the old place – with the old dude – that I was with.

I get to express my emotions without interference and without being told that I’m wrong for feeling the way I feel. Nobody tries to shut me up. Nobody tells me that my dreams are worthless.

Everybody in my life loves me. Everyone in my life encourages me.

There are no voices in my home that scare me. There are no sounds in this house that worry me.

I don’t jump. I don’t cry (for reasons I don’t understand anyway).

I am at peace.

I don’t have to explain what I do. I can go where I want to go. I am friends with who I want to be friends with and not friends with people I don’t want to be friends with!

I get to parent my children in the way that I see fit.

When I wake up in the morning, there’s no yelling. There is no storming around. There’s no doors slamming.

My house is peaceful. Just listen. …

Now when the kids get home after school, that’ll be different.

life without abuse video imageYou could subscribe to my youtube channel here.

What is life without abuse like for you? Are you as happy as you hoped you would be? I love to hear from other people who successfully left their abusive relationships.

Please share your thoughts with me in the comments section.

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  1. It has been 4 years since my abuser went to jail, and I had decided FINALLY that I wouldn’t do it anymore. I have self esteem issues still. I apologize too much. I have trust issues. I still feel as though I should be walking on egg shells, even though I know I don’t have to.
    Will that ever end? I feel like I drive my fiancee crazy with that stuff. My fiancee, is the absolute opposite of the abuser. Gentle, kind, loving. It has been hard to get used to, and it’s been 2 years that we have been together now.

    • Amy, I also feel like my past comes back to haunt me and my boyfriend (2 years together also). Everything will go along just fine, and then I’ll have an “episode”. Yesterday I put myself in a timeout because I was acting out. I “learned” the behavior as a coping method during my marriage. I would act out so my ex would act out so the tension could dissipate. It worked with him, but it has no place in a healthy relationship. Like your fiancee, my boyfriend is kind, loving and gentle. I hate hurting him, but that is the result from my outburst yesterday.

      You and I must be kind to ourselves as we go through this readjustment period. I talk to my boyfriend, I apologize, I love. I find my “episodes” occur further and further apart. In time, I will be as I want to be and won’t need a timeout. You’ll be okay too. Hang in there.

  2. Life after mental mind-screw/emotional/verbal abuse is sad and painful in the recovery period. It is also libersting in the sense that I get my mental freedom back. I’m no longer being pseudo-interrogated and behind-my-back investigated. I’m not being flat-out lied to my face. I’m not long-pausing as a preventative measure of saying the “wrong thing” that could be taken in an non-redeemably ugly way. My words are not being twisted to mean something totally different than what I said. My feelings and requests and likes and dislikes and hobbies and accomplishments aren’t being met with cold indifference. Nobody’s insinuating that they’re doing me a favor by spending time with me, or that it’s a chore to hear what I have to say. I get to pick where I want to go and enjoy my time out. I’m not looking at a pouty lip and hearing how unyielding I am because I won’t have sex on a 2nd date or change my religion. I don’t have to hear about a bunch of exes and their birthday parties. I’m not enduring a scene where my make-up is being thumbed off my face and my personal space is being invaded. I’m not being questioned as to who I’ve talked to or how I became friends with people. My family isn’t being conversationally disrespected. I’m not jumping through hoops to apologize for something, only to be badly treated as punishment to my apology. I’m not losing weight rapidly and losing sleep at night. I’m not praying day and night to be treated better and respectfully. I’m not hoping that an abuser will change and treat me well. I’m not working so hard to look good and be accepted only to be met by zero acknowledgement/compliment. I’m not having to constantly be passing tests that I didn’t even know we’re on the curriculum. I’m not being judged and misjudged left and right for everything I say and do. I’m not being mocked for setting boundaries and limits. I’m not being humiliated in public or private. I’mnot being belittled and patted on the head. I’m not hearing perverted comments and outbursts in my ears. I’m not being fiercely watched/observed my every move and dissected apart like an owl pellet. I’m not being told one minute that I’m “awesome” and the next minute devalued. I’m not hearing lame ecvused for bad behavior and lies. I’m not having to deal with these and so much more, now that it’s AFTER the abuse. It feels good not to.

  3. When I was going through my divorce, Kelly Clarkson’s “I can breath again” had just been released. Up to this day, that song best describes the way I feel.

  4. Hmmm…. I don’t have to walk on eggshells everyday wondering when the bomb would drop. Don’t have to deal with the disapproving looks, the sighs, the verbal slaps (oh my favorites!!!) I can make my own decisions without worrying about what will be said (or not said!) No more worrying! I can breathe!
    I didnt leave, he did, 2 months ago. I spent a month wondering why, he didn’t say..well he did say “I need to be free, not to have responsibilities, or to consider anyone else because I can’t even consider myself right now, I have to do this. It will make me a better partner and father” HA!!!! Whatever.
    What he didn’t count on was me ‘waking up’ . It took me a while to realis that he had been abusing me for…24year (since we were 16). I’m sure he blames me for the ‘end of us’. He posts crap on Facebook about ‘starting over’ or my favorite, a song by some group Airbourne toxic event about ‘changes’. You promised you’d change, you played head games, I’m still a gentleman (HA!) , blah blah. The thing is, he’s trying to hurt me but all it’s doing is pissing me off! The opposite effect to what he wants. I’m sure he thinks I’m just waiting on the shelf he’s placed me on until he’s decided life is too hard because he can’t find someone else to take his crap. He trys to make himself into some wounded creature,. Get off the damn cross!
    Anyway, glad I don’t have to deal with his drama anylonger. Or his family’s (I should have known) And super glad our son doesn’t have to live in this crap anylonger. Have to help him deal with his father but he’s more mature at 15 than his dad, ANd he knows it, bless his heart, he said it. I’m 15 and I’m more mature.
    Ahhhh…breatheing freely is nice!

  5. I know this has been up a while, but I’ve just gotten to see it. I loved it! You are cute as a button, Kelly. It’s nice to put a voice with your face and your blog.

    Thank you for reminding me many of the ways that I am SO much better off myself now, three years out of my abusive relationship.

  6. becca elliott says:

    how is the only comment I have and when? When will I start to feel better and not blame myself for everything? When can I think of him as the horrible person he is and not someone he was when we were first together. when will I think my own thoughts or not be scared to DO things (cause I am going to screw it up) or believe I am smart and capable? How did you go to a new relationship and find a nice guy, I am horrified if he treats me well it will end and he will abuse me

    • Becca, I understand your fears completely. Sometimes, three years out, similar thoughts cross my mind, too. The answer is merely time, education, and vigilance. You can learn about how the abuser brainwashes you, how to “unbrainwash” yourself and feel more confident, and see red flags of abusers early on in relationships. Stay away from relationships until you feel comfortable venturing into them again, and then remain detached emotionally as you watch for signs. If you begin to trust your instincts on small choices, you’ll see that you are almost always right about people and situations. Those small practice runs of trusting your gut will eventually help you regain trust in yourself for the big things in life like who you can trust, what men are good for you, where you want to go with your career, and just how smart and capable you were, are, and will continue to be.

  7. You hit the nail on the head, Kellie, with regard to the peace and respect. I left my marriage of over 42 years almost exactly one year ago; the divorce was final nine months ago. I haven’t looked back, BUT I have been doing a LOT of work since in counselling, support group, in the library and on the Net, researching and reading.

    This aspect of my recovery may help you, Becca, a bit: just within the last month or so I realized that the good days now finally outnumber the bad days of grieving, guilt, and loss. But, one thing has remained consistent for me, no matter what the “day” is: I make myself figure out what’s going on as much as I can, and “push through” what inevitably turns out to be the next aspect of my recovery.

    Maybe it was some habitual wrong thinking I had to identify and discard. Maybe I’m grieving the loss of companionship (the companionship of the good days, that is). Maybe I recovered some memory about abuse from years ago that I had stuffed and that reinforced the need to stay away from him. It may take hours or a day or two to crawl up out of the funk, but it happens if I stay the course. Just stay the course. It will happen for you, too, as Kellie said, in time.

    I’ve done the readings and reflections on the role of narcissism and verbal/emotional abuse in the marriage; on my own co-dependency and enabling (in addition to my share of the immaturity…after all, I was a teenager when we married, he, barely in his twenties). But it boils down to bully behavior. He was mean, wicked mean at times, to me for no cause. And God has called us to peace.

    When the time was right, and I knew it without a doubt, I left. Only then could all this healing start to commence because all my energy was not consumed dodging verbal and emotional javelins and spears.

    Blessings and hope to you.

  8. Lisa Boeck-Jenkins says:

    It’s been about a year since that day when going home became an impossibility.

    The year has been filled with insane ups and downs. There was a dark place in the beginning where it took all of my strength to hold on. I was falling off a cliff and hanging on by my fingernails to stay out of the thick black ink that loomed beneath me.

    One breath at a time And one minute at a time I was able to hang on. I took life in short increments with short thoughts. If I was folding laundry I focused on the one shirt instead of the load. The minutes would pAss and the sun continued to rise every morning. I prayed all day every day to make it from one minute to the next.

    Slowly the minutes turned to hours and eventually I was able to think in terms of days. The sun continued to come up and I continued to heal.

    There was a beautiful blessing that came out of this time. I got to find me again. I had been gone for so long. One day I looked in the mirror and exclaimed ” well, there you are! Where have you been all of this time? Welcome back!”

    I have goals and dreams again. I am back.

  9. Anonymous says:

    June 2013 he left me “to teach me a lesson” by showing me what I’d be missing! He was furious the next morning (!) when I wouldn’t let him back in. 23 years and I had no idea what was going on. I just loved him and wanted to make him happy, but nothing worked for very long. Buying things gave him pleasure so I enabled that and boy am I paying the price being in debt upto my eyeballs. But 3 motorbikes weren’t enough. Going out whenever he wanted wasn’t enough because sometimes certain friends didn’t go or pay him enough homage. A complete spoilt brat. And although everyone tells me it’s not my fault, I can’t stop dissecting the past. I shouldn’t have been so weak and needy and how can anyone who professes to love you treat you like crap. The first time I realised something was trully wrong was when his behaviour became more erratic and violent towards me and now I realise why – it was the first time I said no to him. I refused to stop going to the gym – I’d lost weight, made new friends. It was my heaven of 3 hours a week away from him (we ran a business together) with people who made me feel good about myself. Even now I’m getting upset cos he should’ve done that. I always stoked his bloody ego. I feel like an idiot. I feel like my past is all mashed up and I don’t know what’s true. I feel like I’ve wasted a chunk of my life. Everybody keeps saying you’re still young – 43 is not that young to be completely starting over with 2 kids!
    But saying all that, I know I’m going to have my rock bottom days (funny how it’s when he starts with the “I’ve changed and I love you emails!) but I must never go back to that. I am gradually gaining my self confidence and self esteem. I’m paying my mortgage (he gives me nothing – why should he?!) I have 2 fantastic daughters, we’re going on holiday and I’m going into further education.
    Our home is peaceful and welcoming and boy do I smile a lot. I can breath, I have time to concentrate on my own needs which is impossible when you’re looking after and second guessing your control freaks wants. And because I’m being kind to myself it makes me a better person for my girls. If I can give them the tools to become happy, confidant, kind girls then I’ll be a happy mum.
    Gosh I cry a lot, but at this moment they are tears of joy and gratefulness.
    I wish everybody good luck in their journey after being in an abusive relationship. And to anyone who thinks it’s going to be hard to get out, it’s gona be a damned sight harder on you if you stay in. xxx

  10. 5 months since I threw him out. Just couldn’t start another year that way. It took the police and an intervention order to get him out. Even now, and I know it’s early days, my son and I are so much happier. I feels as though I can move forward now that I’m no longer spending every waking minute walking on eggshells… Your blog has helped me enormously. Thank you Kellie ❤️

  11. God bless you. That is so true, there’s so much peace despite the difficulties and stress of getting used to a whole new situation.

    I finally decided to end it about two weeks ago. He’d been living in a different flat on and off anyway, for almost a year, so he eased his own way out of the relationship. After a prolonged absence of three weeks, he came home again and it took him one week to reach the explosion phase of the cycle after drinking whiskey all night (knowing full well what it does to him). For quite some time I have been researching abusive relationships, narcissism and related issues. I’ve come to accept that his behaviour has been downright abusive and is very common, and all such relationships end in misery sooner or later.

    Well, I immediately started feeling better. The ambient abuse is permanently gone; I can listen to anything I like (he always used to criticise the subjects I would seek information on, the people whose information I would follow etc). I don’t have to worry about not making noise because he’s still sleeping at 2 pm. Of course that applied to his absence when we hadn’t officially split up, but now I know it’s for life, now I know no one will have that type of control over me again. And I will never have to hear the words ”look at the state of you, you fat cow, have you looked in a mirror lately, I’ve had to look at that for years; you should hang yourself; I’m dying to hit you but I’m not giving you the satisfaction; everything you do is stupid; you’re crazy; you’re a f…ing weirdo; you’re useless; you’re a disgrace; no one would f… that (meaning me); good luck finding someone else” etc etc. I keep them very vivid in my mind every time the honeymoon behaviour comes to my memory and I start experiencing doubts.

    Now I am rediscovering the person I was before I met him; I had a lot going for me, many passions, hobbies, things that made me feel alive. I let go of them almost entirely while I was with him (seven long years) as I didn’t have the energy or motivation to pursue them anymore. Of course it’s difficult with 3 young children, but I am starting to feel alive again, hopeful about the future.

    Obviously, I’m waiting for Mr Right to come along at some point (though I will give myself many months, if not longer, to heal and rebuild my personality before I even become available in that sense). This guy was my first in every way; I basically never experienced real, reciprocated love, so the prospect of having that someday is well worth any hardship I might experience along the way. My inner voice is telling me that it will happen. My relationship with this guy was a nightmare sprinkled with short breaks, but I kept hanging on to any crumb of love and attention he was offering – I am no longer limiting myself to that.

    When I met this guy I was young and stupid, I didn’t know a thing about men and relationships so I assumed this was normal or that it was my fault. I’m really enjoying discovering the broader picture and being out of that bubble I’d isolated myself in (with him as the centre of my existence; some called this bubble shared psychosis). The world is wide open, suddenly anything is possible, I am no longer locked into the cycle of his aggressiveness, moods, whims, unsolved emotional problems. I feel like I matter, I can express my thoughts, speak them out loud, be assertive and feel healthier. My self esteem is already improving. In a way I feel like I’m 15 again, that I can dress up anyway I like, feel attractive, be courted someday and never undergo humiliating put downs as I will no longer tolerate them.

    Most importantly, I can hope to find a positive role model for my kids, one that doesn’t slam doors, punch holes into them, swear worse than a sailor at all times and berate me in front of them. I can find someone who is balanced, spiritual, communicative, into self development and so forth, so that we can evolve together instead of stagnating or destroying ourselves and each other.

    So… all is well just now. 🙂 Some days I am down and worried for a short while, but most of the time I feel like singing and dancing, that’s how bad this was.

  12. I wish I could be brave but I have found myself in another abusive situation…again. evidently I must feel I deserve the treatment that is bestowed upon me or I would not allow this cycle of sh*t to continue. I feel like I can do no better than abuse as if I’m settling and that it is okay. I would like to feel loved like the way I freely give but I don’t get it back. so why complain if I allow it; its counterproductive and always ends the same…

    • Anonymous,
      Don’t beat yourself up. I and I’m sure many others can relate. Since leaving my abusive marriage, I have found myself in relationship with abusive men, not once but twice. It IS discouraging. There must be something planted in us long ago saying we didn’t deserve better. And enduring abuse hurts your confidence and self worth. Add to that unhelpful, though probably well-meaning advice from family and friends. It’s easy to get confused. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start again. Learn from your mistakes. Never give up. Give yourself time before getting in a new relationship. Focus on YOU.

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