[March 31, 2021] It is a common misconception that when women leave their abuser, things get better. Because there is help through police, advocates, or courts, many believe the domestic violence ends. This is not always true. In fact, what usually takes place is this: Abusers find new ways to abuse - often through children.
I left my ex when our child was young. After leaving my ex, I endured harassment, break-ins, assaults and a vile and vindictive character assassination aimed at destroying me – all done at my ex’s hands. These experiences were traumatizing and compounded the PTSD I experienced from the abusive relationship. As time went on, his vendetta became clear to some of the professionals we worked with, and they understood my child and I were in fact victims of his abuse. But it was not enough to stop the abuse.
[February 16, 2021] I spent two years with someone who frequently abused me, both physically and emotionally. Each time I would try to leave, my abuser would physically restrain me within the apartment in which we lived. When I reported the abuse to police, he would be arrested but was typically bailed out on the same day, returning back and continuing his abuse. At the time, I had nowhere else to try and flee to.
[November 30, 2020] As a child who witnessed domestic abuse, I believed abuse was only physical. I saw daddy hitting mommy too many times. I was too young to see the other forms of abuse that took place under the surface. The emotional abuse and manipulation my mother suffered were just part of the family dynamic.
As an adult, I found myself in an abusive relationship. The abuse was subtle in the beginning. I was a social butterfly, but any time I had a conversation with someone other than him, he would accuse me of cheating. He called me names and humiliated me in front of his family, making me feel guilty for just being me. When he wanted intimacy, instead of caressing me, he’d grab me, making me feel that intimacy was a duty and role I had to play. He made me feel guilty for going to work, as his interpretation of being a mother was staying at home with the kids and not working. He believed the only role of a woman or wife was to be submissive. What I believed did not matter.
[November 23, 2020] When I met the person who abused me, I was learning how to be my own person and overcoming traumatic experiences I had during my adolescent years. During this time, I fought through many bouts of severe depression, suicide attempts and eating disorders. He knew about the previous traumas I had been through, and was the first person who was ever really there for me. At the same time, he wanted me to just move on from what I experienced, and put all of my focus on him. He tried to control almost everything I did, yet when confronted about his behavior, acted as though I had the utmost freedom in the relationship.
While dating, I got my first full-time job, enrolled in school and bought my first car. However, the more independence I had, the worse his abuse became.