Abuse Hides in the Dark. Turn on Your Light.

Vanessa’s Story of Leaving Abuse

What happened that made you decide to leave?

My mental and physical health was going downhill fast. After 29 years of hell, I didn’t have much emotional or mental energy left. I wasn’t eating much and was sleeping lousy. I was a mental wreck.

He was no longer working steadily on our farm or anywhere else, just ‘pick up temp’ jobs here and there. However, he expected me to work full-time to support him and I did. I was running a school bus route and a nightly cleaning job at a nearby steakhouse.

Two women friends came forward, offered me a place to hide out, a place to stash any extra cash I could save from paychecks. So one day, I took one dog, what was left of my personal things (I smuggled out stuff I wanted to take with me over time), and left. I drove like a mad woman. I hid my car at a friend’s house.

He and the two high school-aged sons found me gone within a day or two. If I had stayed any longer, I would have killed myself or got so down I would never have been able to leave. I was too scared of him to face him in person and go away. I chose to leave when he was gone on a temp job over the weekend.

Sad to say, my family offered little help. I did call them when I was safe at my friend’s house.

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

I was so tired, nervous, shot with guilt over what I was about to do. I had opened a secret bank account with only my name on it. I was afraid he would suddenly show up and I would chicken out and stay. Or he would erupt into a rage and kill me.

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

FEAR, FEAR, FEAR. I just kept going forward in my plans, one small baby step at a time.

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

Only my two women friends knew; I didn’t tell family until I had left. I stashed cash in a friend’s deep freeze in a Coke can. I had taken out personal items, clothes, books, and trinkets I wanted to keep (he later destroyed or burned the things I had left). I got a secret bank account with only my name.

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

I took my favorite dog (left the other one for him); didn’t leave a note for him, just a couple of credit cards I no longer wanted. I didn’t tell the boys I was leaving because they would have tattled.

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

I wish I hadn’t married him. No marriage, no kids, no farm life. Just dumped him, stayed in school and got a degree of some kind to have a life of my own.

How long ago did you leave? How do you feel today?

I left in 1999 and got divorced in 2001. So, it’s been almost 20 years! I do okay, not much money. I’m estranged from our three sons these years. But, I don’t regret leaving him. I just feel that I wasted 30 years of my life that I can’t take back.

Is there anything else you would like to say?

Don’t take so long to wake up and smell the coffee, as I did. Make your own life, get an education, travel, learn who you are before settling down. And maybe marriage and kids isn’t what you want by then. Know yourself! Enjoy who you are, and don’t take shit off any man.

Please comment below to show your support.

Are you abused? Submit your story of abuse and download this safety plan. Did you leave an abusive relationship? Tell us how you did it at How I Left Abuse.

This website holds exclusive rights to this story per its author’s instructions. You may not use or reprint it in any other way. You may link to it.