Survivor Story: Hope for the Future

Written by: Pam, Survivor

When we met, I was 19; he was a few years older. He was charming, funny and handsome. He told me his story of heartbreak. I believed his lies; my heart went out to him, and I fell for him. We had children together, and we were married for 13 years. The abuse started small but escalated over the years. This was many years ago before everyone had cell phones, before personal computers. Now when I read about and hear all of the signs of domestic violence, I can say that, yes, I experienced nearly every one of them.

He had periods of time where he was not abusive; this could last for months, weeks or days. During the calm times, I would get my hopes up that he had changed, that we would have a normal family life. I never knew when he would spiral out of control; it usually came out of nowhere.

When he tried to direct his rage, usually verbal, at our children, I got in the middle of it; I was their protector.

I believe one reason I didn’t leave is that I knew if we were to separate and divorce, he would have the children alone with him at various times. Right or wrong, one reason I stayed with this man was to protect my kids from being alone with him. I felt beaten down. I felt trapped financially, emotionally and physically. I was so weak. I felt isolated.

I felt guilty for staying with him.

Towards the end, he had a hunting rifle out on the floor cleaning it. I can still see this scene in my mind. We had been fighting quite a bit, and the subject of divorce and child custody came up. I made the comment that the mother is normally awarded custody of the children.

He looked up at me as he was cleaning this gun and said, “Not if the mother is dead.” I remember shutting my mouth and praying that somehow the kids and I could get out of this nightmare. Not too long after this incident, he left us and went to another state. He left us with nothing. We were in the process of being evicted from our house, and our car had been repossessed.

I never opened up to my family about the abuse over the years. They knew he could have a bit of a temper, but he was a charmer and could be a totally different person around them. No one heard about what when on behind closed doors.

After my ex left, my family and church helped me get on my feet. I went to college and earned a degree. My ex told me continually I wasn’t smart enough for college.

I felt safe; my kids felt safe, and our home was calm. Yes, I still had to deal with my ex for several years, but thankfully it was from a distance.

Soon after my divorce, I met a wonderful, kind, loving man. We fell in love, real love. He loves my children and me. My ex said another man would never want me. My husband and I have been happily married for over 25 years. God brought us together, and I am so thankful.

This is a very short version of my story. There are so many details, thoughts, feelings, memories that I could share.

Please know, there is life after abuse.

There is always hope, joy, love, and peace.

There is healing.

I know, I found it, and I am thankful.

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