The following article is an anonymous submission for Stigma Fighters. The writer wanted her identity to remain confidential, but feels that the issues expressed here are universal. This is her story.
Abuse: The Silent Killer
You see it in the movies. You hear it on the streets. Most of us have a friend who is trapped in a cycle of violence. It’s interesting how it seems so much easier to identify when it’s not happening to you.
Several years ago I ventured into the state of matrimony with a good friend who I thought I loved enough to marry. It looked just perfect on paper even though I had witnessed warning signs prior to us getting engaged. His temper. The ridiculous argument we had over me not being honest about completing a paint job so that he could sleep comfortably in my bed. His controlling behavior. The fact that he always “needed” to use my credit cards. But that wasn’t abuse or at least I didn’t see it that way.
Six months into our marriage I found myself pregnant. I had mixed feelings about it but overall I was excited. After our son was born I found myself being put into a specific role: housewife. I cleaned and I was supposed to cook and take care of the baby and my husband. I guess on some level I thought this was supposed to be my job but it didn’t feel right. I thought marriage was supposed to be a partnership and here I was feeling like I was the one doing more. I began to feel resentment but didn’t speak up because I didn’t want to argue.
One year after my son was born I went back to school. Although my husband claimed to be supportive, I found myself feeling terrified when I needed to ask him to watch the baby while I went to the library to work on a paper. So instead I would ask my mother. Nights when I was too tired to give my son a bath, I would ask my husband only to hear “I do enough around here”.
It got worse. Between spending money recklessly, using my credit cards and keeping me in a consistent state of fear so that I wouldn’t speak up, I began to have panic attacks. I would literally start hyperventilating on my way up the stairs to my home anticipating an argument. Dinners at my parents became too stressful to bear because I never knew when he was “ready” to leave and he never said but didn’t hesitate to yell at me in the car if we stayed too late. Making any minor decisions regarding the baby without him set the stage for chaos. Finally having the courage to get my own bank account because I was fed up with his spending habits led to me getting screamed at for several hours.
My parents saw it and my friends saw it. I was becoming a different person. I was becoming a person who was terrified of my husband because he was emotionally abusive and controlling. How did I miss this? I was married with a baby. I did things the right way. I thought this was trials…not abuse.
After several years I could no longer take it. I was emotionally drained and sick and tired of being sick and tired. But I was also a mother and terrified of being on my own. Ultimately, I was unfaithful due to the fact that I was too numb to care. I’m not proud of if but having an affair was the catalyst to walking away from my marriage. I met someone who in that moment gave me all the things that my husband couldn’t and it reaffirmed for me that I deserved better.
It was hell breaking away and I’m pretty sure I was called every horrible name known to man. Not because he was terrified of losing me but because he realized he could no longer control me.
I’m happy to say that several years later we are getting through the divorce process successfully and sharing our time equally with our son. Therapy, great family, and friends have helped me through the healing process and I am proud of how far I have come. I don’t hate him and I don’t think he is a bad person. We just didn’t bring out the best in each other. But I am so incredibly grateful because I am so much more confident and sure of myself and I can say that I survived abuse and no part of me will allow anyone to treat me that way as long as I live.