Soon it will be five years since I ended my abusive marriage. I wanted to take a moment to reflect on where I was and where I am now. It is always good to look back when such a milestone are reached, not to stay there, but to see how far one has come.
Five years ago I was living with daily abuse. My ex screaming at me was a daily event, name calling and telling me how worthless I was, mixed in with a push or slam into a wall were his daily pleasure. If he was wasn’t hurting me then I was watching him hit and shake my toddler son. He was in the all powerful role of being in charge. Achieved by instilling fear and tons of intimidation. The kids and I walked on eggshells wondering when would “dad” snap next and we did our best not rock the boat.
I knew we needed out, but how? How could I escape with three kids? I weighed a mere 108lbs (at 5’10’), my hair was falling out in clumps, a stress rash had taken over my body, I struggled to eat and sleep was barely ever granted to me. With nights of forced sex and worrying it was amazing that I got any sleep at all. How could I afford to be a single mom, pay a mortgage, daycare and groceries ? Could I do it safely? I knew that the most dangerous time for a woman in a domestic abuse relationship is when they are planning to leave or have just left. If it was bad now, what would it be when I left?
When I finally did end my marriage I really didn’t have all the answers to my questions. I just knew I could not carry on one more day in the hell my ex had created. I took a giant leap forward, praying that God would get me through this, and sent my ex a text telling him it was over. For safety I did not dare tell him this in person. I told him to be gone by 8:00pm or I would report him to the RCMP. The text was followed by me breaking down simply out of relief. I went home that night and he was gone. It was over.
Many Survivors of Domestic Violence, and those who work to support them, will tell you that the journey is not over when you leave. It just changes. I had to deal with stalking’s, harassment, and my kids were further abused on visits with him. Nightmares set in for all of us (often I had all three of my kids in bed with me), bedwetting from my younger two and my youngest daughter was diagnosed with PTSD, followed by my same diagnosis five months later. Despite all of these hurdles we learned to laugh again, we started to reconnect with my family and friends (that had long been shut out by my ex). I also began to eat and that stress rash disappeared within weeks. My kids relaxed and started to just be kids. We were free.
I did face many financial difficulties, I lost my house, was put on permanent disability for PTSD and had to move. I moved to be far away from his family. Family that were yelling at me in public, about how it was all my fault. It was something my kids and I did not deserve. We looked for a fresh start.
A fresh start is what we found. My kids found their interests and I encouraged them to reach for the stars. I also reconnected with my own interests. For so many years everything had revolved around my ex, his likes and his dislikes. I lost myself in the process. It has been fun finding me again. I also started a new relationship, one built on trust and mutual respect.
It hasn’t been the easiest five years. We’ve faced many challenges and will continue to do so. Recovery from abuse is a life long journey, but now at least we are safe. I thank God everyday for that. Every step forward takes us away from a very dark time and brings us to days filled with light and love.
Alright, I think it is time to celebrate! 🙂