What happened that made you decide to leave?
I was in two emotionally abusive relationships. The first one was a marriage that lasted almost 5 years (and we were together for almost 7). I was 18 when I met him. The last 2 years of our marriage was constant emotional abuse. Some days I would pray to God that he would hit me so that I would have physical proof, because only then, would it be okay to leave, once I could show other people what he had done. He had told me for about 6 months that I should leave because I am useless. I had seen a therapist for over a year on his insistence as I was crazy because of my childhood.
My mother was a prostitute and crack-addict and I had no real relationship with my father. After 6 months in therapy I started to realize that I had dealt with my childhood demons and that I was actually unhappy in my marriage. Up until that point it had never occurred to me that he was emotionally abusing me. He had convinced me that it was all my fault.
One night, he told me that if I did not “Lie down and take one for the team” our marriage was not going to work out. I had to consent to being raped (having sex with my husband, even though I didn’t want to because I felt he didn’t respect me).
Shortly after that night I moved in with my sister. I moved back in with him 2 weeks later. I missed him too much and he convinced me I needed him and that I was wrong, that I was the one that was ruining our chances at being happy. Two more weeks with him and two weeks of being told how useless, lazy and crazy I was finally convinced me to leave.
I went to see him after I had left to discuss who would take what possessions when we got divorced. I couldn’t stop crying. I was 23 and about to get divorced. I didn’t believe in divorce, I had vowed to stay with this man until death do us part. I still doubted whether I was right in believing he was emotionally abusing me. His entire family kept telling me that I was wrong and needed help and that I was throwing away the best thing that had ever happened to me.
Only my sister-in-law and my sister kept telling me I wasn’t crazy and that I didn’t deserve to be treated that way. He saw his gap to get me back when I couldn’t stop crying. He said he would take me back if I admitted I had broke down and agreed to be hospitalized and put on new medication.
I got up, got into my car and left. I was crying so much on the way to my sister’s I couldn’t see where I was driving. I kept saying to myself: “He is right, you are throwing away the best thing that has ever happened to you, turn around and go back before it is too late.” But by the grace of God, I kept driving.
How did you feel about your abuser and/or your relationship in the days before you left?
I was never convinced that I was right to believe that he was emotionally abusing me. I had to get constant validation from my sister that I was in fact right and did not deserve to be treated this way.
I was afraid that I was giving up the only good thing that ever happened to me, that what he had kept saying for so long, I believed it vehemently.
I heard a little voice in my heart that kept saying I deserve better and I kept listening to that small voice.
What three emotions did you most experience in the days closest to leaving Abuse? How did you deal with them?
Self-Doubt, I had no idea if I was doing the wrong thing, but I kept telling myself that even if only one person told me I was right, I had to listen to that.
Immense Depression, I felt like my life was over at 23 and that I had messed everything up.
Fear that I was making the wrong choice and that I would regret leaving him and that he would not want me back once I realized I had made a mistake.
I just kept listening to that voice that said I deserved better, sometimes it was so faint I didn’t know if it was real, but I just kept listening to that voice.
What planning did you do before you left? Who knew you were leaving besides you?
My sister knew. I did not do much planning. He was never violent with me so I was not afraid that he would physically hurt me. I was more afraid that I was making the wrong choice and that I would regret it.
What were the one or two BEST things you did before you left?
I read a lot about emotional abuse on the Internet so it helped to know that I was not alone. The signs were all there, I just had to keep reminding myself that I was not wrong.
I confided in my sister; it helped to have someone to be accountable to if I decided to stay.
Nothing. I wish I had left earlier, but you don’t have control over how long it will take you to finally break free.
Well, I wish I had saved more money so that I could make a better start for myself. I never spent any money on myself, I always felt too guilty, believing I didn’t deserve it.
How long ago did you leave? How do you feel today?
I left in September 2006. As I mentioned, I entered another emotionally abusive relationship directly after my marriage. That one lasted 3 years and I left him in November 2010.
Today I feel proud of myself for leaving. I feel proud of myself for surviving all of that and still being able to stand up and carry on. I still suffer from depression and will probably be on medication for the rest of my life, but I am only now starting to realize that I am a wonderful person just as I am and that there are people that love me just the way I am.
I am still healing, every day and I am finally able to really see that I don’t need anyone’s validation or acceptance to feel good. I no longer depend on any man to make me feel good about myself, I feel good about myself regardless and I am finally able to love someone without making them feel responsible for my happiness.
Is there anything else you would like to say?
Just leave. Now. Get up right now and leave. It will not get better and you might never reach the point where you feel strong enough or dead enough to leave.
If you know, deep down that you deserve better, leave. It is going to be a long road and it is going to be difficult, but you will make it, I promise you that, and when you look back on your life a few months from now you are going to be so grateful that you have finally made a choice for YOU. You ARE important and you DESERVE to be loved, but only you can make that choice.
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