It’s 16 days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children campaign and I thought it would be fitting to share my story. I want to say it has never been easy talking about my traumatic experiences. But one thing I do know that talking about it has helped me heal and I know it can help someone right now that needs a little hope.
Please bare in mind I am not writing this for sympathy. I have a new life and as much as I have moments that may trigger my past trauma, I have come a long way in terms of my healing. It was not an easy journey, it took a whole lot of therapy and self-love. There are times I thought I will never fully heal from my past but I perservered because I was determined to free myself from my past demons.
If you are in an abusive relationship know that you are not alone. Please tell someone, seek the help you need before it’s too late. You can walk away! I waited 10 years, you don’t have to! Abuse in NEVER your fault.
Life After Abuse
This is my story
I didn’t realise how so many past events had affected my life in such a deep way. It was only long after my divorce and once I had settled down to a new life that my trauma started to surface. Whilst at school as a teenager, my friends were all popular I was the shy, reserved, not so pretty looking girl. I had a low self-esteem and I lacked confidence.
My dad was rather protective over me and he would always say No if I ever wanted to step out the house, unless it was to my families home. My mum always went against him and allowed me out the house. She would face his wrath when I left but for her my happiness was more important.
However, when I was 17-years-old I met a boy that just moved to my high school. Whilst my friends had boyfriends, no boy would even take a second look at me. I remember always feeling like the ugly duckling. I also had some family members that taunted me even further so I felt like Cinderella whilst the richer girls in my family were the princesses. My self-confidence and self-esteem seemed to take a beating in more ways than one.
Finally, when I met this new guy at school I was so ecstatic when he asked me to be his girlfriend. For me it was like a dream come true. I was the envy of all the other girls, so many wished they were in my shoes. Only at that time I didn’t realise what fate had in store for me. I never thought my world could go from fairytale to hell in just a few short years.
I was determined to marry this “knight in shining armour” that I thought I had found. I thought if I let him go nobody would ever love me again. So of course, I held on to him for dear life. I saw the signs of his narcissistic behaviour even before we married but I lived in denial. The writing was on the wall but I refused to see it. I wouldn’t listen to anyone.
At the tender age of 19 I told my parents I was getting married. My dad wouldn’t hear of it, he knew this wasn’t the right person for me. I wouldn’t listen to him, I thought it was another way my dad wanted to control me. Eventually, after much pressure, I tried breaking off the relationship but I was so depressed and lost so much weight. I wouldn’t eat or drink and my mom thought I was going to die.
She was determined to fix things and let me go ahead with my marriage. I think it was only her love for me that prompted her to help me. She didn’t want to lose me to death so she fought like hell to give me exactly what I wanted. After much trauma and fights I eventually did get married. The very first week of my marriage my abuser got involved in a fight. I remember being so terrified but he promised it would never happen again.
We barely had much when we first married. We both worked and the money we earned was just enough to keep us comfortable. That didn’t bother me because I was just happy to have left my overprotective home. I thought the grass would be greener in my new life. No more nagging parents, I finally had freedom.
My freedom was short-lived. The first few months of our marriage was ok. Then the drinking started and the abuse began. If he didn’t like something I did or said I would be threatened, I would be punched in my face. If the food wasn’t up to standard it would be hurled across the room with glass shattering everywhere. I would sit up at night, waiting for his arrival. Not knowing where he is or in what state I could expect him home. If I dared question him I would surely be beaten up.
This behaviour continued for a while but I was determined to make my marriage work. There was no way I could feel like a failure by going back home. I needed to prove to everyone that this decision I made was the right one. I booked us sessions with a marriage counsellor. I took him to AA meetings. Eventually the drinking stopped and I actually had peace for a couple of years.
After the drinking it was then weed. The weed caused mood shifts and the violence started again. I was threatened with a gun, with knives. I feared for my life and there were times I left home but I always went back after promises that it will never happen again. It was always highs and lows. It’s easy to say “why doesn’t she just leave” but I know leaving was not easy. Although I know my parents would have taken me back with open arms, I had a million reasons why I couldn’t leave.
I stayed for 10 years. I cannot fathom how I endured so much pain. How I allowed my soul to be destroyed. One thing I do know is walking away from an abusive relationship takes a lot more than just courage. I always felt responsible for the choices I made and I needed to live with those bad choices. I was ashamed to admit I was wrong. I was also afraid that his threats to destroy me when I left would become a reality.
There were times I wanted to end my own life but I knew I had a son to take care of. I couldn’t imagine leaving my little boy without a mother, that was the one thing that saved me. At times the pain was so unbearable, I didn’t know how much more I could endure. I was blamed for everything that went wrong and made to feel like I deserved the abuse. There were days when the abuse was worse than others. I went to the extent of obtaining a restraining order but I was too afraid to use it.
Despite the odds I always wanted to make things work. But God had other plans. As I was still in a rollercoaster marriage, working a full-time corporate job and trying to run a household my abuser started an affair with a work colleague. When I discovered the truth I was devastated, heartbroken and a total wreck. But I finally found a reason to walk away, to be set free. Free from a soul destroying marriage, free from abuse and free from the constant worry and fear.
When I went back home my parents never once told me “I told you so”, for that I am grateful. Thankfully I was also financially independent so I could take care of myself and my boys. My parents whom I defied and thought were trying to destroy my life by being so over protective was my saving grace.The day I decided to divorce was also the day I found out I was pregnant with my second child.
He asked me to work things out for the sake of our kids. I thought our marriage deserved a second chance. I went back and the very next day I was punched in the face whilst trying to protect my unborn child in my tummy. I packed up my stuff and I left again. After our divorce he insisted on seeing the kids. I didn’t trust him enough to send the kids out with him alone.
One day I accompanied them on a trip to the beach with some of his family members. That day I was struck with his fist in my eye, in full view of everyone around us and my kids. He still came back that evening, asking to see me.
I remember hiding in my bedroom with my heart pounding out of my chest and begging my dad to call the police and beg him to leave. That was the final straw for me. It was the day I finally freed myself from his clutches. I walked away never to look back.
For a long time I struggled with memories of my past. To this day I cannot watch violent movies or stand the sight of alcohol. I have slowly started healing. I don’t handle rejection very well and it’s the little things that sometimes triggers my traumas of the past. But I am happier than I’ve ever been. I still face challenges but I have learnt to take one day at a time.
I know now that my choices does not define the person that I am. I didn’t deserve the abuse. I don’t see myself as a victim but as a Survivor. I call this my story of HOPE.
If you are in an abusive relationship please know that you are not alone in your struggles. You can seek help and you can walk away. There is HOPE! There is LIFE AFTER ABUSE!