People often question naively why women stay in abusive relationships. The answer is simple: you are trapped and terrified. In my case I was afraid that I would lose my children. This was the big threat which my ex-husband repeatedly used against me and it chilled me to the bone. I knew that I could never leave without my children, so for a long time I hoped things would get better and stayed. After accepting that he would never change and plucking up the courage to walk away, the story was far from over. Infact it had only really begun! Typically, he refused to let us leave – talk about control! So I nervously called the police with my mobile phone which I had deliberately put in my pocket. The event was highly traumatic and I will blog about that later. But for now, the police came and thankfully they correctly read the situation and permitted the children and I to go. They even waited with him for an hour so that he couldn’t follow us. Me and my children ended up in a Women’s refuge which I was really nervous about, but it turned out to be a blessing. At the refuge we received lots of emotional and practical support such as finding somewhere to live and sorting state finances to live on. The biggest advantage also was that we were protected there by experienced and professional workers who understood the challenges of abused women. I have a loving family but because they lived in a different country, my husband used the law to stop me staying with them – that’s why the refuge was also neccessary. But as I said, the refuge was very supportive and they even let my mother come and stay with us because of the circumstances. The following is a list of the ways in which my husband tried to have his own way:
- Refusing to let us leave
- Refusing to give me my clothes/belongings
- Refusing to give me the children’s clothes and toys
- Refusing to split our furniture
- Clearing my bank account
- Filing for 100% custody of our children – Unsuucessfully
- Insisting that children should go to a foster family, when he didn’t get custody – unsuccessfully
- successfully having the children’s passports confiscated
- Refusing to let us travel to family who lived overseas – thank goodness for Skype!
- Lying to social services claiming that I was suicidal & under psychiatric care
- Fabricating stories to suggest that I was an incompetent mother
- Refusing to get a job
- Refusing to pay child support
- Taking me to private criminal court for speaking out about the Domestic Abuse – case was dropped
- Refusing to cooperate and sell our house in order that I can pay my legal costs
- Exploiting every and any legal technicality to avoid divorcing me
An abusive, controlling man (or woman) will do everything to try and stay in control and this can be very scary, but this actually leads to their downfall as in time they will slip up and show their true colours to the world. I urge anyone in such a relationship to contact women’s aid or equivalent. There you will find sympathetic workers who are experienced in dealing with these issues and you will get practical and emotional support – I could not have done this alone!!!
Although it was the hardest thing that I have ever had to do and I was petrified, I have never regretted leaving ever! I would have certainly become very depressed or worse had I stayed. Now I have hope, freedom and my spirit can thrive again. I found a brilliant therapist and I am becoming stronger and re-discovering the real me which would have never ever happened had I stayed in such an awful relationship. The kids still see their father regularly and he tries to bully them and wants 100% control over them, but he is shooting himself in the foot, as they are now less inclined to visit him. My kids and I have had to deal with so much adversity, he tried to eliminate me from their lives, but it just made our bond stronger. We have now created a house full of fun, laughter and love and I know that when they are with me they are genuinely happy and Im sure that you will agree that that’s all that really matters.