Abuse Hides in the Dark. Turn on Your Light.

Sara’s Story – Leaving Abuse

story of leaving abuse

What happened that made you decide to leave?

After 5 tumultuous years with Carl I finally ended it.

We had a relationship like no other. He was my best friend, my lover, my soulmate. I felt people could never grasp the depth of our connection and the rawness of our love. I never thought I would ever love anyone like I loved him. We had so much fun playing games, watching movies, traveling… It was perfect bliss.

Well…that’s to say, when he wasn’t hitting me, pulling my hair, choking me, calling me names, kicking me, throwing things at me, scaring me…when I wasn’t trying to explain my every single minute of life, or delay at work, calls from friends, sick calls at work, and bruises/injuries. Yes, apart from that, it was perfect bliss.

I’ll admit to this day, I refer to him as my favorite drug. Sometimes I crave him, I want him, I need the passion and intensity only he can provide, that “high” of the honeymoon. If you’ve been there, I know you are nodding your head, almost smiling, you understand completely. It’s addicting. I dream of the “bliss” we had. I loved him with every fiber of my being; but he was bad for me. Very bad. I’ve been “clean” now for almost 2 whole years! Like an addict, I take little steps and applaud my strength.

A little about us. I was going to save him you know. He was from an abusive home, his dad left by age 10 and he was an alcoholic by 17. He courted me for over a month before our first date. Ever the perfect gentleman, he was considerate, funny, vivacious, sensitive, and interested in me!!

I thought his heart was so pure. I thought that if I just stuck by him, showed him real love and kindness he would want to be better. He told me he wanted to be better. I helped try to put him through school and let him stay home while I worked two jobs. He just needed someone to understand him. I understood his goodness, I knew the real him under the ugly times.

story of leaving abuseI grew up in a privileged home. I had a loving mother and father, a beautiful house, got to travel the world and have nice things. I have a university education and a prestigious job. I know I’m very fortunate. He was not. That wasn’t his fault. I understood that. My heart broke thinking he never had big fun Christmases around a roaring fire or family suppers together at the table. I wanted to show him how beautiful life could be. But somehow, in the process of our relationship, I cut ties with these treasured friends and wonderful family who instilled these values and gave me the memories.

Why you ask?! Well because people that really knew me, didn’t like him. They knew what was up with us. No matter what lies I told, excuses I made, they knew. And a part of me hated them for it. I hated their inability to see his good heart like I could. See? I told you, people just didn’t understand our depth (pretty delusional huh?!). To make matters worse, my poor decisions were supported by people everywhere we went. They adored Carl. He was the greatest guy ever! People would tell me how much he “loves me” and “is so proud” of me.

Yeah, in public, it was bliss. Then when we got home I would get kicked in the face, called a stupid whore, and be choked while I gasp for forgiveness. Forgiveness? All because some guy said hi while passing by me on his way to the bathroom. Guess I was having an affair with him, or so I was told.

So why am I telling you all this? So you can know just 1% of my life with Carl.

Fast forward to two years ago. After years of being told I’m a failure as a woman for never getting pregnant (I was a career woman and was also told I couldn’t have babies) I found myself pregnant. I thought Carl would rejoice in finally having his wish come true. No, he doubted the validity of the pregnancy. The doctor confirmed I was indeed pregnant and asked us if this was a “wanted” child. He said yes. I said nothing.

I knew domestic violence increases with pregnancy and I worried about him hurting or killing this child in a drunken rage or to hurt me. You see just weeks before, drunk and pissed about whatever, he drug me outside at midnight and walked me to this little park by our condo. He fell to his knees and sobbed. He said he brought me here to kill me and throw my body under the bridge. But he just couldn’t do it now.

He said if I ever told, if I ever called the police or try to leave, he’d find my family and kill them in front of me so I could watch. If I ever put him in jail again, he would get out and when he did, he’d come find me and kill me and himself.

Of course in the morning, he apologized, cooked supper, flowers, cleaned house, lovey-dovey blah blah blah…and we started back on track to bliss again. But I wasn’t feeling so blissful this time. That frightened me.

So now on to our doctor’s appointment. He sat with me, filled out the health history and watched in awe with me as our baby’s heart fluttered about. I’m not a crier and it brought a tear to my eye.

That night he came home and told me to have an abortion. Told me I would be a terrible mother. Me?? I was hysterical. I begged him to reconsider, to forgive me. For what? I’m not sure. I was terrified at being a single mom. I was ambivalent about having kids to start with. I had an amazing career, a NON-CHILD friendly career. I remember asking him what I could do to fix things…and he told me if I was willing to change he would reconsider.

I stood there confused; dumb-founded. After all my suffering, my patience, my loss of self, friends and family, all my love and support, I gave him everything I had, and a couple times almost my life. I felt defeated, distraught…then a thought slapped me in the face…How am I gonna tell my parents?! Like I needed more to stress about.

True, I am an independant 30-year-old woman, but they despised him. I slept in our bed alone, crying all night. I stopped briefly when he yelled at me through the wall to “SHUT UP!”, evidently my sobbing was keeping him up. That night as he couldn’t bring himself to be near me, he slept on the couch.

The next morning, I made up my mind. I looked up local abortion clinics. If couldn’t save myself, I would save this child. I would save it from ever having to know this life and that terrible man. I decided in a moment that he was right. As long as I brought a child into the world to be abused and neglected by him, as long as I stayed with a manipulative, abusive, alcoholic, I would indeed be a terrible mother. I didn’t trust myself. I didn’t think I could ever leave him. I didn’t know if I even wanted to…

I took him to work the next day and he later called to say he wasn’t coming home. He had met someone. I told him I was terminating the pregnancy, that I was dropping his belongings at his sister’s, and I did not wish to hear from him again. He offered me the money when he got paid that Friday. I said I would take care of it and to just leave me alone; and I hung up.

He called back from another number and when I answered, I told him it was a wrong number, like I didn’t even know it was him!! The words just fell from my lips without thought. Wow, I was angry. I was in charge. I had the upper hand and caught him off guard. It felt pretty damn good. I disconnected his phone. Changed the locks (quick, cheap locksmith call) and packed his all his shit into bags and boxes, put it in the car and drove six hours to leave it on his sister’s driveway.

He continued to call me from friend’s phones, had people basically stalk me, and wrote me letters constantly. At first he made apologies, baby I’m sorry, baby I love you, I want our baby, please, please, let’s be a family. When that didn’t give rise to a confrontation from me, he started into anger: I can’t believe YOU are acting so selfish, YOU need to grow up, I want to be there for my baby but YOU won’t let me, YOU need to answer me, I can’t believe YOU murdered my child! I will never forgive YOU. YOU destroyed us.

Wow, what a change. All this blame, but I’m not the one who walked away. I burned everything in the fireplace when I found it or he mailed it. He was trying desperately to manipulate me and make contact. With my lack of response (it was brutally hard, I wanted to voice my opinion, stand up for myself!) his hold over me was broken, and he knew I was slipping away.

Yes, I cried each day. And I slept in fear each night with an ax, pepper spray, shoes, an extra phone and money by my bed in a bag ready to grab should he break in. I had my escape route planned. I was so scared.

But I couldn’t tell a soul. My family was 2,000 miles away. I just had to hide. That next month I celebrated Christmas alone. Ouch. Come the new year, I applied for a job back home and gave away all my possessions that didn’t fit in my car.

After receiving a job offer, I called my parents. My mother cried that I messed my life up and my father voiced his serious disappointment. It killed me to hurt them like that. But what was done was done. He flew to pick me up and drive me home. I just left my entire life behind, and in an instant, the world I knew was gone. It was horrible.

At 30, I moved into my parent’s basement. Like a huge failure. I felt like shit. I didn’t have to move home but I did to save money and buy a new house and new stuff. To start over.

Over the year I got nasty emails and texts from my ex and his family demanding things from me and screaming at me for murdering his child. I already felt like dying from losing my job, my love, my house, my things, disappointing my parents; my entire life had to be restarted. After 5 years, I found myself alone. I cried a lot. The blame he put on me crushed my soul. I wanted to give up. I felt all the abuse was way better than this mind numbing experience. I knew I could beg Carl for forgiveness and he’d take me back, and my life could go back to normal again.

NO!!!!! I caught myself reverting back to old ways and I just froze. Going back now would invalidate everything I just did! Ugh!

In response to these scary feelings/thoughts, I disconnected my phone (got a new one), changed my email, and did not allow myself to be harassed by him. I didn’t trust myself yet, I needed no opportunities to “escape” in case a weak moment caught me again.

I got contacted last Christmas, one year later, that he was in jail. Attempted murder against his new girlfriend and I was called to testify against him.

That could have been me. ATTEMPTED MURDER. I was in shock. I stared at his mug shot and got physically sick. I finally saw him for the monster he was.

Now I have to say, sometimes I tear up when I think about him and the “good times” and I miss him. I miss the blissful us. The dreams I had for us. I allow myself moments to feel the pain, to cry, to remember the bliss, but I never allow myself to forget the bruises, concussions, fear, humiliation, the lies, the numbness, the broken dreams.

But it’s ok now. I have good days and dark days, but it’s getting better.

You see, 4 months after I left, I gave birth to my beautiful child surrounded by family and immense love. I will never sacrifice my child’s safety or well-being ever. Carl has no idea, that through the death of our love, life has been born of the ashes.

How did you feel about your abuser and/or your relationship in the days before you left?

Sadness. So many broken dreams. So much time wasted. I put up with all the BS for nothing. Nothing ever changed. I had to admit I was wrong. I could not save him. He never wanted to be saved. He was just fine using, manipulating and abusing his way through life. THAT was the real him.

I had to get mad though. I needed the strength to put up with the intense verbal, emotional, and possible physically abuse that would surely peak when he realized he’d lost control. I never underestimated him. To look back, it was kinda crazy. I knew him better then he knew himself. Once I stopped feeling sorry for myself, I was able to plot my escape. I had every base covered because I knew him. And I knew me. I was able to stay one step ahead. But it took time.

What three emotions did you most experience in the days closest to leaving Abuse? How did you deal with them?

It was bittersweet. I had moments of anger and sorrow. I felt empowered but helpless…it’s confusing. You second-guessed every move. I was really scared.

I cried. I allowed myself to grieve. Anytime I doubted, I asked myself if I was satisfied with the current way my life was. I wasn’t happy really, yes there were times of wonderful happiness but I was not happy. So I said to myself “stay and keep getting treated like crap or leave and try something else”. I gave myself the choice. And I chose to leave. It was empowering making the choice sometimes 10 times a day!

What planning did you do before you left? Who knew you were leaving besides you?

No one knew. I couldn’t risk him finding out. I had an escape route planned, I had weapons to protect myself since he preferred hands-on violence he’d have to get close. I hid a bag of a phone, lighter, cash, photo ID, kitchen knife, shoes, sweatshirt, snack bars, water and pepper spray. I lived in a kinda remote wooded area so my pack was more survival gear too 😉 After he left I slept with an ax by my bed and kept my escape window ready for quick exit. I moved ASAP with no forward address.

What were the one or two BEST things you did before you left?

I was 100% sure. I was committed to going through with it this time. I made my plan ahead of time.

Plan carefully and thoroughly, remember you know his crazy butt better than most!!! You know what advantages or disadvantages he has. His routine, use it to your advantage. But don’t underestimate him. He’s smart. He’ll sense a change. Tred cautiously. And believe you can!!

If there was anything you wish you had not done before you left, what was it?

I read his letters. They hurt. I knew they would. I should never have opened them.

Is there anything else you would like to say?

I never thought it was possible for me to be free. Not sure I even wanted to be.

It sucks at times, but overall the quality of my life has improved drastically. It was so worth it. Can’t believe I waited so long to live my life.

Had someone tell me once, look at the man you’re dating, would you let your daughter date him?? For me, the answer was HELL NO!!!!!

Are you abused? Tell your story and Break The Silence.
Did you leave an abusive relationship? Tell us how you did it at How I Left Abuse.
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