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beauty-351511_640I married my first husband when I was 18. He was fun and everyone loved him. But we were both alcoholics and he became abusive when he drank. I was working 3 jobs to support us. I went back to school and that intimidated him. After I got pregnant, I stopped drinking. He started to get more violent and controlling after I stopped drinking because I started to change for the better. I knew I should leave but felt that I’d made my bed and I should lay in it.

After my daughter became a toddler she became afraid of her dad when he came home drunk. One day she refused to go to him and he knocked her down out of anger. That was my wake up call. I’d never let him abuse my child. I left him and moved back in with my parents.

A little while later I met a man at a Christian singles group. He seemed like my knight in shining armor. He was supportive, smart, came from a good family. I married him 4 months after my divorce. I was involved in a car accident about a year into the marriage and developed fibromyalgia. As my health declined he changed. I used to be the bread winner and when I got sick, he “took care of me.” But instead of helping me he made me feel helpless, stupid, unworthy. He controlled every move I made. Isolated me from family and friends. Kept telling me how sick I was and couldn’t make decisions for myself. I developed severe depression and even seizures from the stress.

During this time he was also abusing my daughter. I finally got her out if the home, but didn’t have the strength to leave myself. As my son grew older he came to hate his father. Seeing the damage staying in the marriage was doing to my son, I finally broke away from the church which so loved and supported my husband. They had convinced me to stay by his side despite the abuse. I became too sick to go to church and escaped the “dutiful wife” mentality. When my husband finally took away all my means to money and said I had to ask his approval and get money from him or his parents – I snapped. I told him I would never live like that and I kicked him out. My son and I breathed a sigh of relief even though we knew the financial struggle would be difficult. My son and I kept each other strong, and I’m now divorced from a 20 year nightmare. It took me a long time to leave my marriage, but I was a stronger and more vibrant person after I left.

I eventually found a wonderful man that accepted me flaws and all. He has been by my side through many hospitalizations and a surgery I just had 2 weeks ago. He constantly tells me how beautiful and smart I am. Early on in our relationship when I tried to adapt myself to be who I thought he wanted me to be he got upset. He told me “Be yourself and make yourself happy … That is what will make me happy”. That’s when I knew I had found a special man who could love me flaws and all, and give me the strength to be myself.  I still struggle with feelings of not being good enough for him. Or fear that he will leave me. But we have been together 9 months now. I’m disabled and have been in the hospital over 6 times this year. My boyfriend has slept in my hospital room every single time even when we’d only been dating a month.

I survived a 5 year physically abusive marriage and a 20 year emotionally abusive one. There is hope after abuse. Stay strong and don’t let others tear you down. You are a TREASURE, respect yourself don’t take the blame. The blame belongs on the abuser. I realized that I deserved to be loved and not controlled or manipulated.

There are good men out there. It is TERRIFYING to love again and it is a struggle to remember that I deserve it. But we all deserve to be loved. We are all AMAZING people who have survived so much. There is life and love after abuse. Take care of yourself and be strong. HUGS to all of you survivors. It does get better.