Survivor Story: Enduring Over Six Years of Mental Abuse Broke Her Down

Written by: Melinda, Survivor

Like man survivors, Melinda has been asked why she stayed. There is never a simple answer, because, for many of us, there are often several circumstances that lead us to stay with an abuser. Survivor Melinda shares with us how more than six years of mental and physical abuse affected her and what she did the day she decided it was time to leave.

Melinda got married in 1982 at the young age of 15 to a 22 year old man, just two months after giving birth to his son. They had only known each other for three months before she became pregnant, and he didn’t tell his parents until after the baby was born. They then forced him to marry her. Melinda says that wanted her son to have his father in his life, so she married him.

The first time he hit Melinda, they had been married for six months. She still remembers what happened to this day. When she found him looking at photos of previous girlfriends, she made a comment he didn’t like, so he backhanded her across the face. This was the beginning of a routine for him, and his alcohol use was always a contributing factor. The violence slowly escalated over the six and a half years from open-handed slaps and backhanding to minor stabbings, broken noses, and a broken jaw.

When she shared her story, Melinda wanted to talk about why she stayed. One of her main reasons was her children. She had a son and a daughter for whom she wanted to have a whole family. Another underlying cause was the devastating effect the verbal and emotional abuse had on her. She had been told that she was dumb, stupid, fat, and ugly. He repeatedly said that no one else would want her and that he was the best man she would ever have. The bruises all heal but the mental abuse lasts a lifetime. Melinda had been mentally broken down for so long that she didn’t believe she could do anything anymore.

“Finally, one day after fighting all night long and picking myself up off the floor for the fourth time, I just stopped. I stood up to him and told him not to touch me again. He looked at me like I had gone completely insane. First, I called the police and then a member of my family. Then I picked up my two children and walked to the end of the road to wait for the police and my family.

“I literally walked away with a child on each hip and only $40 in my pocket, but I was alive and free! He went on to abuse his next girlfriend and ended up causing a brain injury, and he was sentenced to prison.”

**If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, there is help. You can visit the Break the Silence website at www.breakthesilencedv.org, chat with one of our helpline advocates at 855-287-1777, or send a private message through our Facebook page.

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