I’m sitting here making a very controversial statement, but with very good reason. Hear me out, perhaps you’ll find some merit in what I’m going to say. And if you disagree, drop a comment because I’d love to have a dialogue on this.
Why do I think you shouldn’t get divorced? I suppose I should preface that by saying that in the case of abuse, please get help. That being said, I was viciously emotionally and verbally abused for years. I stuck through it because I have an old fashioned sense of commitment, and also because I was trapped, both figuratively and literally.
My ex didn’t allow me to leave the house. I’m not even exaggerating. He told me how to wear my hair, who to talk to, and didn’t allow me to see my friends. Why did I marry him after all that? I wish I knew. Abuse/control creeps up on you, like boiling a frog. One minute you think you’re in a great relationship, and suddenly you turn around and you’re a shadow of your former self, with your life managed and controlled by someone else.
I got pregnant at 23, while we were engaged. I had been trying to figure out how to break up with him, because I’d seen his abusive nature and wanted out. But then the pregnancy. It consumed my focus. We still had horrible fights, where he would threaten to kick me out of the car in the middle of nowhere and disappear from my baby’s life, leaving me a single mom.
He kept that promise.
That pregnancy turned out to be a complicated twin pregnancy, which we lost at 22 weeks. In the shock of the loss, we had a rush wedding two weeks later. We promised we’d get away and buy a house and start over.
I found us a great starter house that month. $70,000 for a 2 bedroom starter home on an acre of land. Remember, this was 1998, and the housing boom hadn’t happened. It was perfect, and five minutes from his job and my family. But his father (another abusive man) talked him into buying/building a duplex with him instead of getting our own house. The idea was we’d live there a few years, sell, and then split the money and go our separate ways.
I begged him not to. My pleas fell on deaf ears. I was dragged into this duplex idea, in a town an hour from anyone and everyone, in the middle of nowhere. And that’s when it went from bad to worse.
The building process took way longer than it was supposed to. I got pregnant again, and our plans to give birth at our new home quickly dissolved as the duplex took longer … And longer … And longer. We didn’t move in until our daughter was 8 months old. And that was when I found out that his father had left my ex off the mortgage, so he was the only one who owned the duplex, even though we had contributed half the down payment, closing costs, etc. And we would get none of the tax benefits. But he still promised we’d get half the profits when he sold it in a couple years.
As I’m writing this I’m floored with how stupid I was. I still stayed. I persevered, trying to make this work. And I got less than nothing for that.
As I said earlier, we lived an hour from anywhere. We had one car, and I was forbidden to use it. Ever. I begged to drive him to work one day a week so I could get together with other mom friends and our daughter could play with their children. I was never allowed. My only trips out of the house were doctor’s appointments, when my father would drive an hour each way to take my daughter and I to the doctor’s.
Sometimes if I was really lucky he’d stop at the grocery store.
That was my life. For seven years, and two more children. During that time his father told us he’d decided not to sell (surprise!) and the housing boom happened. All our money had gone to this house we didn’t own and couldn’t profit off of, so we were truly stuck. I had no friends I could see, no way to ever leave, and was constantly berated by him.
One time during our many fights he woke our 3 year old daughter up because I wouldn’t continue the fight. I was done and wanted to go to sleep. He dragged her screaming out of bed, telling her that “Mommy won’t talk to Daddy anymore, and I’m lonely.” So I toed the line, to shield the children. Many, many, many other times, he threatened to take the kids from me if I left him. He said his family would all go to court and paint me as unstable and unfit, and I’d never see them again.
It worked. I was terrified, isolated, and willing to do anything to stay with my children.
Finally, when our 3rd child was born, we got a second car. I couldn’t believe it. I went to Walmart one day, and was screamed at for not asking permission. But eventually I was able to wear him down to allow me to go to the store or mom’s group once a week. It was like coming into the bright sunlight after being in the pitch dark for so long.
Then, he had finally had enough of his father using us, and we scraped together our savings to buy small home. (Oh, remember that starter home we could have bought for $70,000? It sold two years later for $175,000. Not bitter. Nope). We got away and I thought maybe now things could get better.
I tend to be naive.
You see, living like that, being abused and trapped for so long, had destroyed my health. I developed an autoimmune disease, but we didn’t know it yet. The symptoms included instability, which was actually severe blood sugar crashes … We just didn’t know it yet. I was terrified, he was less-than-supportive. We fought almost daily at that point.
I was tired, so tired of being called names, and told horrible things. I started fighting back, yes, I gave what I got. Is it right? No. But at the risk of sounding like a 5 year old, he started it. After the second time I woke up to him raping me anally, I was well and truly done. Yet I *still* stayed.
That’s when I finally got my diagnosis. We started trying to treat my condition, and discovered quickly that managing a thyroid isn’t always easy. We couldn’t get it stable, and as I went through med change after med change, I was subjected to a physical roller coaster on top of the daily abuse.
I reached out to a good friend, and confided everything in her. She was my daily confidante. She worked hard that year to gain my trust, and would message me all day long. Eventually she presented her idea to both shield me from his never-ending verbal assaults and keep my family together.
I said yes. It was the worst decision of my life. Worse than staying with him. They teamed up within two months, and then I was treated as an outsider in my own family. I was completely ostracized, and yet still stuck by them, doing the housework and child care so they could spend as much time as possible together.
I don’t think I even could fathom the level of cruelty they exhibited those two years. To take an abuse victim, promise them help and peace and safety, and instead laughingly rip their family apart … I don’t get it.
So, two years after getting out of that horror show, I’m sitting here telling you don’t get divorced. And why? Well, because I was subjected to horrific abuse for over 15 years. I lost my health, and most of my young adulthood. And now I’m a single mom of 4, renting because I can’t save enough for a down payment. And my abusive ex?
He’s living with my friend, in a Mcmansion. They go on wonderful getaways and multiple couples long weekends away. They have a pool, trampoline, wooden playset, basically all the luxuries you could ever ask for. I share custody so a little less than half the time I’m heartbroken and missing my children. My kids have gone through varying degrees of mental anguish from the split, and have needed therapy.
Please, someone show me what I got out of this. I fail to see anyone who benefited except my ex.