My son and I left my abusive marriage and have never been happier

Guest post by Darlyngirl
By: dualdflipflopCC BY 2.0

I was always a “good girl” — growing up; I did as my parents said. Then, I did as my husband said. But then, one day, as I was contemplating driving into oncoming traffic, I just snapped. I took my one-year-old son, left my nice house and my not-so-nice husband and went to my local women’s shelter. Once my husband read the note, there were multiple phone calls and then an awkward conversation. I was told to come home — he would change and no one would ever have to know I left. Even 24-hours after leaving, I had already reached a point where I couldn’t go back — I had hope again. Hope that I could be happy, hope that I would find myself and learn to love myself again, and hope that maybe I wouldn’t have to spend the rest of my life married and alone.

When I arrived at the women’s shelter, I didn’t think I could unload a dishwasher properly; I’d look in the mirror after getting dressed and think “this will have to do, because you don’t look good in anything anyway.” I had been in counseling for post-partum depression for months and had made some pretty significant realizations: my depression wasn’t post-partum — it was situational. Through the use of the “power and control wheel,” my therapist helped me to see how unhealthy my marriage was. It was only because of that help that when I was feeling so guilty about upsetting my husband and was considering driving into oncoming traffic that I asked myself “Why are you letting him do this to you?” I left that night.

My family then found out that I was at the women’s shelter from my ex-husband (which is how I had begun to think of him at that point). They called and repeated so many of the beliefs that society pushes about abuse — “He doesn’t hit you, so it’s okay.” “Shelters are for poor women.” I was told over and over that the shelter wasn’t a “good place” for children.

Since then we have established custody arrangements. My son and I have moved into a two-bedroom apartment on the “wrong side of town.” I have filled it with happy colors and thrift store finds and I love it. I am on Ontario Works (welfare) but I finally have the energy and confidence to apply for jobs that I was lacking with my ex-husband. Being a single mother has actually given me more time for myself, as before I struggled to get four hours to myself a week and now I have every weekend off as my ex takes our son.

My family still thinks I am crazy for leaving my financially secure ex-husband, my nice house, and for “giving up on my marriage.” But I haven’t given up on myself. I am making steps to give my son a happy mother, to ensure he knows that it’s not okay to treat your partner the way I was treated, or to let yourself be treated that way. I no longer have a dishwasher to worry about loading “correctly,” and I am starting to look in the mirror and see the beautiful woman who has always been there — stretch marks and all.

It’s okay if my family never believes that I made the right decision. I am building us a new family of people who love and support us and more importantly I am learning to love and support myself.

If you are dealing with domestic violence, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233

Comments on My son and I left my abusive marriage and have never been happier

  1. I can’t express just how much love I’m sending your way right now. What a wonderfully strong woman you are, and such an amazing role model for your son! My sister experienced a similar situation and I understand how hard it can be not to have the full understanding of your loved ones. I just hope you realize that by sharing your story just what an tremendous inspiration and source of strength you will be to other women. Genuinely wishing you all the luck and happiness in the world for your undoubtedly awesome new life!!

  2. I had to say something. Being a child raised an an abusive home, thank you. From your son. I only hope that with his dad still in his life his father doesn’t fill his head with crazzy things. But I can assure you that he will grow up and draw his own conclusions in life and no matter what he says what you show him will stick.
    bravo for doing something my mother never had the guts to do. She in turn became abusive to us kids because she hated her life. So growing up around that and just now (28) learning to enjoy life and not be so critical. I often remind myself that my kids are kids and not littlle soliders. My husband ha helped me with so much and I am grateful.
    Not mant people hear the good out ccome of a bad up bringing. I have two older siblings that got sucked into the negative life style of an abused child. I was there for a moment but got out.
    Your son will thank you &your be verry proud of your decision to better your lives. And like i always told my parents, I would rather be poor &I happy then rich &I miserable. People don’t think that’s possible but those people haven’t been where we have.

  3. I felt like you wrote my story. I didn’t end up at a women’s shelter, but thanks to the friendship of a previous co-worker, me and my 2 year old son moved into a bedroom in her trailer (already filled with 3 kids and 2 parents). Stayed there until another friend offered to help us live in a motel room for about 2 months. After no other options, we ended up living with my parents for almost 9 months. Through all this I lost siblings and friends because my marriage appeared secure in every way.

    It was the best decision I ever made. Haters be damned.

    • “Through all of this I lost siblings and friends because my marriage appeared secure in every way.”

      This really hit home for me because I found that sentiment the hardest to overcome when I left my previous marriage. I am fortunate in that when I left that abusive relationship, although no one could really understand why (as we appeared to have a secure marriage from the outside), 99% of my friends and relatives were, and still are, extremely supportive. My heart hurts to read that not everyone has a solid support network. So extra love and congratulations to all of you who found the strength to realize that being happy and feeling safe are far more valuable than a big house and a facade of a “good marriage”. With or without a support network of family and friends. You (and everyone!) absolutely deserve to be happy, as that will help you be able to do so much more for and with your children, too!

      I literally thank the universe on a daily basis that I have found someone with whom I can share and amazing partnership and start a family…and be happy and safe while doing so!

      • I’m glad your family knew you were doing the right thing. It’s so hard because when I was going through it, it was so embarrassing and I was so afraid that other people would just agree that I would never have told anyone. So of course, the marriage looked pretty good. I think that probably happens a lot.

  4. Many women wouldn’t be able to do what you’ve done. You’ve shown so much strength! This is definitely the right choice for you and your son.

  5. Power and Control wheel FTW! It can be hard to see everything listed on that piece of paper, but it really make things click. I’m so glad that you were able to find a safe place to stay, and that you didn’t go back – so, so many do. You’re a strong person – don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!

  6. I’m very proud of you and so glad you shared this story. Tomorrow marks the 5 year anniversary of when I ran away from my crazy abusive, controlling ex-husband. I have an awesome life now and all of my family is so glad I left him. I’m in a wonderful relationship with my new husband and we have a 4 year-old girl, and a son on the way. I hope things will turn out great for you too!

  7. You are so strong.

    3 months ago, I left my husband, a week after my daughter was born. A week after that I filed for divorce. He had abused me the entire time I was with him, and it had got bad while I was pregnant, but he had kept promising to change- and blaming me. When she was born, even to the trip to the hospital, he was awful, and I realized that he wouldn’t change I left, and I still want to go back, but didn’t. I stayed with my parents. They helped me.

    I am a singe mom now. Sometimes it’s hard. I plan on going back to university so I can support both her and I. The scariest thing for me right now is that one day he might get joint custody. I hope it never happens. Right now he sees his daughter every weekend and during the week in my presence. He still has everything I own, and won’t even let me have my clothes. I have the suitcase and baby things I left with. He won’t let me have anything for her, and his family has taken back the baby shower presents they gave her.

    • I have no words for what you are experiencing,but I wanted to send you love from my lounge room in Australia where I sit with my 4 week old. You are a strong woman, and you will get through this. I hope you find someone who can help you get back your belongings and make sure that your ex doesn’t get any custody. He does not deserve a second more of either of you.

    • I wish there was something I could do to help you. I’ve been a single mum (not from an abusive marriage, just a failed one), and I’ve been through not being left with much. I’m in a much better place now, and I wish I could pass on some of that luck, or some pretty clothes for you and baby, or something. Know that there are people out there cheering you on, anyway. xx

    • Ask a trusted friend(s) with a truck to just drive over with you on a day he is home, knock on the door and walk in. Try to make it a day when someone can watch baby for you. (take shifts watching the baby and getting your stuff if you are nursing, find a near by public place that you will go. Having the baby there with your ex can increase the emotions, and this should be a calm and determined process of only taking you stuff back, NOT engaging the ex the more conversation then is necessary.)

      Don’t be ashamed to ask for help with this! Many abusive men want to keep up appearances of being a good guy, so the more friends with you at the time the better. Plus they can help you load things up and watch your back.

      Once you get your stuff back you have less reasons to deal with him, and more stability for you and your child.

  8. Hugs and congratulations. It is most hurtful and confusing when close family and friends plain don’t understand things like domestic abuse- when I left a similar situation (though I didn’t have kid)I was convinced I had to go back and try to fix it since my then closest friends thought “he didn’t hit me so it was okay”. First of all, it’s not okay. Secondly, it didn’t take long for the violence to come into it once I returned. So I thrust myself out and into a world of strangers who listened to me properly. That was four years ago and now I have a partner who doesn’t make me feel like I’m a defective human being. You are an inspiration, and I know that things will just keep getting better for you now that you have the freedom to know yourself properly.

  9. This is wonderful! I’m an advocate at the battered women’s shelter in my town, and your story and the stories of women in the comments are just so great. We tell every woman that comes in that they are brave and strong, and nothing could be more true when you have to start over with nothing, as so
    many women do.

  10. I’m so sorry that your family hasn’t been supportive but, like JodieR, I am so proud of you. You are so strong. You will get through it. You are amazing. <3

  11. My heart is full of happiness and sadness for you. Sad that you went through it, and happy that you were one of the women who made it out of it. May you continually find love and growth in your life. I pray you continue to live without fear, hun.

  12. Good for you! You are strong and awesome! 🙂

    And as someone who grew up with domestic violence (from my mom, not my dad), I can say that it is so very much better for the kids to be out of that situation. My parents divorce is one of the best things that ever happened to me and my sister. 🙂

  13. As one of my dear friends from college would say whenever I was doing something difficult, “You got this!”

    I was in an abusive relationship. I wasn’t married and there were no kids involved (thankfully). We weren’t even living together. But it was still incredibly difficult to leave. None of this is easy, but I am so glad to hear that you’ve got a lifeline to happiness and that you and your son are doing well. I’m sorry your family isn’t being supportive, but from the sound of things, you TOTALLY got this.

    • Thanks- I feel like I haye this. My ex is taking me back to court for custody again because I moved. I lost my new job for asking for time off for court, but have a job interview tomorrow- I won’t let him win anymore- this is MY life and the life of our son and “I’ve got this”

  14. Oh, it makes me so mad when I hear of families of abused women trying to get them to return to their abusers.

    Good on you for getting away, and NEVER let anyone make you feel about it. You did the right thing, and I am so impressed with your bravery.

    • My father still doesn’t understand- he keeps saying that maybe we’ll get back together someday and doesn’t understand why even the thought of it brings me to tears- just SO much happier now.

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