It’s possible to break free…

We met through a friend of mine while we were in high school. Being young and inexperienced, I felt like it was a normal relationship. As time went on I started to see very aggressive behavior but it was never directed toward me. One time he got angry because someone I worked with began flirting with me. Shortly after he set the guy’s car on fire. Another time he got into an argument with the boyfriend of someone he worked with and used a baseball bat to break his car windows in the middle of a busy road in town. I should have realized that one day he would turn that anger on me.

At age 23, we got married. A few years into the marriage it became pretty clear that he was a very selfish person and demanded a lot of attention. Once we had a child we felt slighted and wasn’t getting the attention he thought he was entitled to. When our daughter was 2 he began having an affair. When I told him to leave, it got violent. In the beginning it was psychological abuse which quickly turned physical. I thought I was going crazy. I was desperately trying to handle it on my own. But soon it grew out of control. He was threatening my family, friends and coworkers. He even took off with our child and was refusing to bring her back. On another occasion he tried to run my car off the road while our daughter was in the car with me.

During this time, I felt ashamed that I let things get as bad as they did. I kept thinking how could I have not seen the red flags. I was exhausted from trying to keep myself and the others around me safe. I often felt like I was losing my mind. The only thing that kept me going was my daughter. I was determined to keep her safe and show her a better life. Once I was finally able to get away from the situation I felt like I was given second chance at life.

Now, when I look back, I feel a sense of pride that I was able to turn things around. I am an extremely independent person. I was able to build a nice life for my daughter and myself. My daughter had grown into a wonderful and kind young lady. She just graduated college and is about to start grad school to become a family therapist. Fortunately I had the support of my family and some great friends.

To anyone experiencing abuse… I know there are so many doubts in your head and that it’s scary but it’s possible to break free. You have to rely on help from others and you need to make sure you have a safe place to go. You have to advocate for yourself in court. Unfortunately the court system is flawed so you need to speak up and make sure you are being heard. My only regret is that I didn’t find the courage to leave sooner

Cathy C.