Survivor Story: I Knew It Was Time to Leave When I Considered Suicide After 18 Years of Abuse

Submitted by: *Mandy, Survivor

Whether we are in an abusive relationship for a relatively short time or many years, developing depression and considering suicide as an option to end our suffering are painful realities many of us face. It is estimated that approximately 23% of survivors of intimate partner violence attempt suicide. This is disproportionately higher than the rates among those who have not been abused. Significant risk factors include, but are not limited to, types and severity of abuse suffered, pre-existing trauma, and depression.   

For a parent facing abuse, the prospect of leaving children behind often eclipses their own emotional pain. After 18 years of abuse, Mandy reached her breaking point and felt she could not go on living. Find out what happened the day she decided she wanted to end her life and what stopped her from following through.

I was in an abusive relationship for 18 years, from the age of 13 until I turned 31. Not only did I marry my abuser, but I also had two children with him – something that I still do not understand to this day. I have spent years battling through the aftermath and trying to forgive myself.

By the time I turned 14 years old, he had controlled who I spent time with. When I was 16, he had begun physically abusing me. He drove us into a field and started slamming my head against the inside of my car. Once we got to a place where I felt sure I could escape, I jumped from the vehicle and ran away. I called the police, but because we were just kids, nothing was done to help me.

After that incident, I did leave him, but, somehow, he ended up right back in my life. I remember my mom telling me that she wished a man loved her as much as he loved me. When she said that, I really wanted to tell her it was not love but control.

By the time I was 17, we were living together. We were married when I was 23; our daughter was born the following year, and our son the year after that. I was abused daily; if I was not harmed physically, there was always verbal and mental abuse. He was a monster, and I decided that I was going to end my life. I did not want to leave my kids behind, and for a second, my confusion and suffering led me to think that I would have to take them with me. In that instant, I realized I was not thinking clearly, and I knew that I needed to get out before anything else happened to us.

The last night he attacked me was another night in a long line of assaults that I endured over the years. After he told me that he was going to kill me, I tapped the call button on my phone to dial the last person I spoke to and set my phone down. He was focused in a rage and did not realize that my mom was listening to what was happening. She called 911, and once again, he was arrested. I quickly gathered my children and some clothes, and I never looked back. I lost everything I ever had but gained so much in return.

I never really got much help from the legal system during the 18 years we were together. He was ordered by the court to go through anger management classes, which he did a total of four times. He is in prison now but will be released fairly soon, and I am scared of what he will do when he is released. He has not seen my children since they were 11 and 12 years old, and they are now 15 and 16 years old. It has been nine years since I escaped, but I wish I left sooner. I have many unseen scars left behind.

*Name(s) have been changed – and in some cases omitted – to protect the identity of the survivor and others affected by the abuse.

**If you are struggling with depression and considering suicide, there is help. Dial 911 or reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

***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. For crisis services, you can contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233.

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