Three Years After Leaving Domestic Abuse and Violence
During my recovery since leaving domestic abuse and violence, there have been many ups and downs. Life can be quite confusing when you use your intuition instead of relying on someone else to tell you what to do! So, I'd like to share some of the revelations and problems I've encountered since leaving domestic abuse and my abusive husband.
The Worst Things I've Seen Since Leaving Domestic Abuse
- Losing primary custody of my children to my abuser (I received 'visitation,' an ego buster, but I see my boys every other week, for the full week, because they're old enough to insist upon it).
- Thinking about suicide. Last week, I called the Veterans Administration suicide hotline because I knew men typically succeed in their attempts because they use weapons (fewer women succeed because we use pills). I kept looking at the shotgun in the closet and thinking a bullet right through my heart might end the pain quickly. (Don't worry - I met with Mental Health at the VA yesterday. I don't have plans to kill myself - it was frightening to hear that particular devil on my shoulder.)
- Taking a while to find my own direction. Feeling lost sometimes.
- Financial trouble. Lots of it.
- Feeling that "He is always going to win."
- Forced communication with my ex due to co-parenting. (Limiting him to texts and emails helps.)
- Hearing that he plans to kill me after our youngest son turns 18. This actually makes sense because, to my ex, 18 is the age of adulthood and no one needs parenting after 18. Therefore, he won't be hurting his children by killing me.
- Hearing that not only does he plan to kill me, but that he plans to do it in a "disgusting way." Wow. I know some of the disgusting ways he's planned to do away with other people. Not pleasant.
- Holding on to my habitual defense mechanism, denial, has led to a lot of grief.
- Involving myself with a man with substance abuse issues. The signs for binge drinking were there in the beginning, but he stopped drinking. At the same time, my son spiraled out of control with drug use and I ignored (denied?) signs of substance abuse in my boyfriend to concentrate on helping my son. Concentrating on my son did no good.
The Best Things I've Seen Since Leaving Domestic Abuse
- FREEDOM! I can do and say and believe whatever I want to without challenge. I've learned that my motivations and intentions are good, despite what my ex says.
- Responsibility. With freedom comes responsibility. Responsibility really makes me check myself before I do or say things with or to other people. I know what hurts, and I know how to be tactful. I choose tact and compassion because I am responsible.
- Developing an attitude of acceptance instead of blame. When I blame myself, I wallow in it. When I accept what I've done, or what someone has done to me, I can either apologize or change my relationship with that person, even if it means ending the relationship for good. And believe me, ending some relationships is for the greater good, not just my own.
- Watching my sons grow and develop into responsible young men. I didn't interfere with their relationships with their father (too much). When they tell me their troubles, I listen and openly share how I've learned to deal with dad when he acts "like that." I've guided them the best I could, but let them decide for themselves how to handle their relationship with their father. They're always going to be his sons. They're going to have to learn how to accept what's good and release what isn't good for them when it comes to dad, me, or anyone else in this world.
- Realizing that no matter how safe isolating myself feels, it just isn't good for me. I miss a lot when I don't talk to other people. For example, just last week I learned that some people are "poly-amorous." Basically, that means they want to love and have sex with any number of people, believing each partner can be loved equally. That's not for me, but hey - now I know.
- Confirming in my mind that abuse victims are not co-dependents. Co-dependency relates to relationships where there is substance abuse, but not directly to abusive relationships. When I get this "proof" solidified in my mind, I'll write more about it.
- Refusing to label myself in negative terms. Like my angel Bluelady Muse says, "Celebrate What Makes You Great!" - focusing on my best qualities instead of my worst helps me to overcome the less great characteristics much easier than dwelling on them. This is a struggle some days, I admit. I have to remind myself that I am not a failure at times, but overall, even if the little devil camps out on my shoulder, I eventually flick him off!
- Realizing the best thing to do when it's all too much is to reach out for help. No, people can't make the problem go away, but sharing it sure as heck puts it in perspective.
- Keeping my loved ones in the loop instead of believing they don't want to know about anything other than good news. Sometimes I need to borrow their strength and their belief in me to get over a hump.
- Learning that I have a need to reach out and teach anything and everything I know. My ex used to call me a know-it-all . . . but so what? If I've got an answer or suggestion, then what good does it do to keep it to myself?
Where To Go From Here?
I've got a list. A list of things I need to do to accomplish what I want to become. The list changes as I learn new things and my priorities shift. But without my ex-abuser hovering over my good thoughts, I have the freedom to pursue the next great thing in my life. I'm not flighty; I am flexible.
I hope you all can tell by my lists that leaving the abuser doesn't take care of every problem and sometimes creates new ones...but leaving, for me, was the only way to truly LIVE this blessed life given to me.
Jo, K. (2013, November 7). Three Years After Leaving Domestic Abuse and Violence, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2021, February 27 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/verbalabuseinrelationships/2013/11/recovery-domestic-abuse
Author: Kellie Jo Holly
These comment are absolutely heartbreaking, yet bring back memories. I was in an abusive relationship, I filed for divorce as soon as I saw the first sign and haven't looked back And my kids are prohibited to see him. My mother was in an abusive marriage (physically), and divorced him....after a bit, got engaged and was murdered by her ex husband who stalked her. This happened when I was 7, on Christmas Eve. Now as a woman with 3 daughters of my own, I will not allow any sort of abuse towards me or my girls (my oldest 2). I know the signs and can and will end relationships. Unfortunately, there are many who don't want to open their eyes.
I have a toddler with my abuser. And he is rarely physically abusive to me any longer but randomly psychologically some and of course he turns it around and accuses me of abusing him...taunts me for my anger and says he likes it...minutes later I am "baby" and he loves me and "what's wrong with you" when I am understandably upset. Complete and total gaslighting. I used to be so in love with him. I still love him but I also cannot stand him and wish I was able to leave but have nowhere to go with my daughter. And he says when I do leave he wants nothing to do with her or me...but will find her when she is 18 and make sure she hates me when he is done. Some days I am so miserable I almost wish I was dead but then I look in my baby girl's beautiful eyes and see her smile and know that I can and will be strong for her. Her father is content to not work and let his mom pay the rent and he eats the food bought with food stamps meant for just two people. Me and my daughter deserve so much better and some day we will no longer have to deal with his selfishness any longer. God willing that is sooner rather than later...
I understand competely about this situation. I was with my ex partner for five years and during this time was called names, sent nasty texts and emails and suffered property damage and physical abuse from slaps round the face to all over body bruising. Once he tried to push a guitar head into my backside after throwing me around the room. Because I loved the good times i kept going back. He would always cry and say 'do you think I'm proud of myself' and promise it wouldn't happen again. Of course it did, many times. He said if I went to the police they would laugh at me. I was drinking heavily at this point and didn't feel confident in any way to handle it all properly. After getting into trouble myself with the police for being drunk in public I was put on probation for a year. My female probation officer helped me find the courage to prosecute. An injunction was served but I still let him back. Now a second injunction has been served and he as spent time in prison. That was two months ago and it has been so hard to reflect on what happened and how it affected me and my environment. I still think of the good times, and it is so hard to not let those times override what I know to be the truth. I was in a very abusive relationship and I have to persist in protecting myself and healing. I know I have a long road ahead, but hopefully life will be better. It's not easy, because he charms people and had made them believe it was my fault for 'pushing his buttons'. Most of it all didn't make any sense and now I seek sense. He almost drove me insane, but I am now working with a counsellor to understand how it has affected me and to move forward to a happier future. Good luck to anyone who has experienced this. The emotional hurt is huge and self doubt and reliving experiences are still a part of my every day.
I was with my boyfriend for 3 years. He started mentally abusing me which I ended up breaking up with him alittle after we were dating for two years. He begged me back promised he would changed and cried all of the time. Prior to me breaking up with him he would call me a c word always call me stupid tell me he hates me and for me to burn and would wish bad things on me. He started treating me this way about 6 months into our relationship. When I finally broke up with him and he begged me back I ended up going back to him. He was good for about two weeks and then the mental abuse began (even though he promised me he would change). I still stayed i think I became used to the abuse. Some days when we would get up in the morning he just wouldn’t talk to me and I wasn’t sure why and he would ignore me for days. I would try and talk to him and he would tell me to F off and he hates me and wants nothing to do with me. He would never apologize for his behavior i just had to forget it happened and act like everything was ok. This July he proposed.a few days before he proposed he was texting me he hates me and he would never marry me and said so many degrading thins to me and insulted me and my family because he was having a bad day at work. A surprise to all i still said yes when he proposed even though the abuse was getting worse. It became about every other day he would say very nasty things to me through text and when he got home from work. I gave him all my love i did everything for this man and he walked all over me and took complete advantage. Once we were engaged he became worse. I would text him i love you he would write back negative things and how he doesn’t love me and would start with the insults. He would blame it on work but again would never apologize. I was very sick with bronchitis last month and he refused to come near me because he didn’t want to get sick which I was fine with because some people are afraid of germs. I was laying in bed with a fever and I heard things slamming against the wall and I got nervous so I ran outside the bedroom to see what was going on and he was throwing Tupperware all over our apartment and went to throw it at me. I asked what was wrong and he couldn’t find what he was looking for so that was my fault. He then put his hands on me got in my face and called me a c word and told me he doesn’t love me and will never marry me (we had been engaged only two months). I went back to bed scared and I was trembling. He gets this scary look when he is yelling. Whenever he was mad he would sharpen his knife and threaten to hurt me and himself. It was that night I decided I can’t live like this. He mentally abused me for years he got physical and all i was doing was walking on eggshells daily because I wasn’t sure what mood he would be in. Three weeks ago i left. We got up that morning he started with me calling me a c word and all of the other nasty things so when he left for work I moved out. I started suffering bad panic attacks months ago because of him and my anxiety which I never had before him had gotten bad that I could barley drive a car anymore and had trouble functioning day to day because of him. He was making me ill. Once I left he won’t stop trying to beg me back telling me he can’t live without me and I am his whole world and he was just stressed out about work and I should know he didn’t mean any of it. He has been texting me over and over he sent me flowers to work and he told me he promises it will never happen again and we are supposed to be planning our wedding. I wanted to be planning our wedding but he decided to be so cruel to me. After years of dealing with this and me suffering panic attacks because of this mental abuse i finally left which was so hard to do but I started to feel unsafe around him with how often he snapped at me for no reason. Now he is promising me the world and told me it wont happen again and we have to work through this because it would be ridiculous for us not to get married. I’m heartbroken that I allowed myself to be treated that way for so long and not sure how I could love someone so much who treated me this way. He wants me back but I know I can’t especially after he has gotten physical with me and the nasty vulgar things he would say to me are just terrible. I go back and forth if I should believe he changed but everyone tells me there is no way he will and I truly believe he will go back to his old ways and he has caused me to much pain.
You are correct. Trust your instinct to stay far away from him.
I want to thank you, JeffryB. Your words have forced me to write, something I am very afraid to do. If I write this comment, then I am accepting the truth of my situation.
I am a man who is on his third and final break from a 10 year abusive relationship. I am never going back!
When we met, Y was extremely isolated and in an abusive relationship of her own with an absolute horror of a man. A long story short, I became her only source of support (her mother is abusive, her father there but absent, friends driven away by abuser) and, after falling madly in love with, rescued her from him and started our own.
In the immediate and short term of the first few years everything seemed to be well, she was in recovery and was sometimes awful to me but I accepted that she was healing and need support not judgement. Abuse is shit.
The problem was that even then she had started her patterns of abusing me. There was constant criticism regarding what I wore, eat and enjoy doing, who I spent time with, the places I wanted to go, taste in music, film, art - everything. All the way through our relationship she would remove sex from the table and refuse to talk on the subject, saying only cruel and demeaning things about my sexuality. This could last for 4-8 months at a time. Nothing I did was good enough, no person truly a good person unless she judged them as so. Every time I would approach a subject I would be afraid to speak lest I be burned by her eyes. But I had always been a strong personality, dynamic and adaptable? How could I not be able to help this woman? I'd been well known by my peers as someone who can, and will help? This, it turns out is how I became a victim. I am a people-pleaser. I will sacrifice of myself to fulfil a perceived need in another. This leaves me particularly vulnerable to an abusive loved one who is never satisfied. So we became isolated more and more, she refused to leave the house and would make a very comfortable 'nest' make me feel loved and protected. Then, I would fail in some way and be attacked. Or, want to go to visit a friend or family and be attacked and drawn back into isolation. Blah, blah, blah, I could just keep going!!
So, four years ago, we split. It was my idea, but it was mutual. We both moved to different locations but remained 'friends'. This turned out to be a continuation of the abuse. She knew I'd come back to her and I did. Once firmly back together, situations at the flat share she was in changed and somehow, I invited her to come live with me. I never actually had any evidence that anything changed, only her words, but I didn't even question it until much later. So the abuse resumes, sometime later the arguements become much worse and sometimes violent, she becomes completely involved in her life and loses even the pretence of caring for my needs. Finally I managed to get the strength to once more finish the relationship, she doesn't go down easy, she moves in next door. Now, I live in warehouse so next door means next door, along a corridor, we share a drywall :/ So ensues an pretty awful six months of daggers and passive aggressive behaviour. She says nothing but wonderful things about me to all around, while I go totally crazy. Nobody believes that I am a victim because I'm a man. I'm a carpenter, so I'm strong. I'm a party guy, so I'm loud and social. Apparently, if you have these traits, you're supposed to be immune to abuse!
In the nine years to that point, I had changed from a gregarious, socially active, hard working person, into some who suffers from severe depression, general anxiety disorder, hasn't worked properly and well for four years, finds it hard even to get up from bed.
But with her next door, the abuse could only lead to us getting back together. And we did, until a month ago, when we split for what I hope will be the last time. In the last break I came out as polyamorous, a sexuality I had been concealing and not acting on for many years. So this time we've split it's because she can't have complete control of me, I'm demanding to be allowed my own, non-manogamous, sexuality! It felt good, the split, we made it ok, promises of a better future as friends, rules we had talked about and agreed on, etc. I mean, I'd rather she just go, but she lives next door so I've got do something to make it bearable, right? She'd been asked out that very day so off she went on her date. The next day I hear them through my wall. I've kept my cool and made friendly with everyone, even met the new boyfriend (I like him) but yesterday it changed. I told her I'm done. I won't be treated with contempt and disrespect any longer.
And today, thanks to you JeffryB, I feel bloody brilliant because I've just written it all. It probably doesn't make total sense and the grammar might be off. It's definitely not the whole story but bones enough.
I want you know that I cry uncontrollably at least three to four times a day. But I'm not ashamed. I have panic attacks and paranoia, believing myself to not be good enough even for the smallest amount of help, but I seek it anyway, because I am good enough, even if my feelings say different. Often I cannot leave the bed, but I am free now, and will not return to that abuse.
I wish you all the love in my heart Jeff. Get out and make the third time the charm :D
Thank you for sharing this beautiful blog post. I relate so much to this. Because of the things you have said, I feel less alone in my suffering.
I appreciate it.
Thank you for a wonderful blog. I have only read about a dozen entries so far. Of course I chose one without comments to post. It is so hard for me to take the view that I am equal and deserving as anyone else, so my comments in a post that have replies cause me extreme anxiety thinking about taking away from other's healing.
I am on my 3rd marriage, my third to have problems. My 2nd was still the worst, she trained a cat to claw me... and trained me to sit and take it. I gave up and nearly died as my body failed from injuries and abuse and mostly hopelessness. It took a year, but I gave up hope more and more and my body failed more and more.
I suffer heart attack level of pain from anxiety and PTSD from a lifetime of abuse. As one relationship ends and I get help, then the next one reawakens the PTSD of the past and present. I find myself worse off. I know the second marriage was the worst, she literally tortured me for the last year before I was hospitalized. But I find myself worried more about the present because the PTSD and anxiety has reached all new heights.
This is not the greatest area for getting help, you are more likely to get laughed at for admitting being a male who is verbally abused. No one really listened except my doctor and counselor in my last marriage until it turned physical. Even then it was hard to conceive for most people.
Sigh... and here I find myself again recoiling from words. She tells me she doesn't yell, and threatened to REALLY yell if mentioned it again. So I didn't. But the PTSD creates echoes, words continue for days. If I get a ... strong lecture... about getting the wrong chips while shopping, I recoil from the chip aisle at the store, but I still have to go there to complete the shopping. These things build. On a good day I have half a dozen triggers, I stutter during the worst, which embarrasses my wife, which makes her raise her voice more, which makes the stutter worse, which makes her raise her voice....
And most of all.... this is three.... how can this happen three times? My second wife, during the divorce, told me that I was too weak, anyone and everyone would eventually abuse me.... and I find those echoes the worst because here I am again proving her words may not be completely true, but have a foundation in truth. I'm the kind of guy that would pick up spiders and carry them out to the garden if my wife didn't order me to kill them and then tease me for my tears.
I am glad you got out and got help. I am always thankful to anyone who has gotten away to start over again.
I hope you always continue to heal and grow and continue to help other women do the same.
Jeff, I feel so sad for you. You are not alone in making the same choices one after the other - most all of us have done it to some extent, some of us live a lifetime chasing abusers. Not that we do it on purpose, but it happens.
I am doubly sorry you're a man in this case because domestic violence is one subject in which men are at a disadvantage when it comes to finding help. If you want, you can get a mentor (male or female, your choice) at my site - someone to talk to who has stood in your shoes. It's helpful. There is also a hotline that specifically mentions men (and I think they're secretly focused on men but cannot say so in our politically correct society) at http://www.dahmw.org/
You are not weak - you are caught in a powerful cycle. I can't be sure, but I'm willing to bet you were married soon after your two divorces. It can be very uncomfortable to be alone after going through an abusive relationship. The natural response is to find someone who helps us feel better. Abusers are experts at helping you feel better at first. Then they change when they know they have you trapped or stifled in some way. I believe that we survivors have to shake off the residual energy of abuse before we can have a truly healthy relationship, and even then there will be triggers that a loving partner will help us overcome. An unloving partner, like your current wife who raises her voice knowing it triggers you, will not ever help us overcome PTSD or any other problem.
Jeff, if you can find it within yourself to leave this third wife with plans to stay out of romantic relationships as you pursue your healing path, I believe you can and will shake off the abusive energy attached to you. I believe you can be comfortable in your own skin and make good choices for yourself. You can start now while you're still married. I'm going to give you a link to a safety plan that helps you stay safer whether you stay or go. It will help you gain strength and courage - two qualities that most abuse victims think they need. I disagree - I think we already have super-human strength and courage for enduring the abuse! What we need is a way to draw on those qualities, to trust in them again and use them to help ourselves.
I hope you comment more often. Here's the link to the safety plan: http://verbalabusejournals.com/how-stop-abuse/escape-abuse-safety-plan/