When marriage fails

When marriage fails by Debra Johnson looks at abusive marriages and how to get yourself to a safe place after domestic violence.

By Debra Johnson
Updated: August 18, 2014
Your Divorce Stories

Note to reader: The opinions expressed in the article that follows are not necessarily those of Divorce Magazine and we acknowledge that some readers may not agree with the opinions expressed here but we are committed to letting all voices be heard.

When I married my prince charming, four months after I met him, divorce was not in my vocabulary. After all, we were in love and eager to start building a life together as well as a family. Because we both were in relationships that did not work, we did not want to make the same mistakes this time around. Therefore, we sat for hours talking about what worked and didn't work in past relationships as well as what we wanted from this relationship and each other. Among other things, the one thing we both agreed on was that we were not going to take the other for granted.

Finally the big day came as we climbed into the limo that took us to the chapel. As the limo driver opened our door and we stepped out, we were greeted by our guests. Now inside the chapel everyone was getting in place as I was getting dressed. Before long my dad was walking me down the isle to a lifelong commitment to a man I loved and who loved me -- Or so I thought.

Shortly after our wedding, I discovered I was expecting our first child. So we began to look for a two bedroom. I was so excited. I set up the nursery bought a crib rocking chair and the things we would need when the baby came. My son was about 2 years old when my ex's dad came to visit. Before I knew what was happening, he was enjoying an extended stay... at least until he found a place of his own.

Because my ex- father-in–law is a quadriplegic and confined to a wheel chair I was told not to enter the bedroom when my son cried during the night. He, my husband, would go in and bring our son to me for care. I was fine with that since my father-in-law needed privacy for his care.

However later that night, when my son started crying, I instinctively started to go in when I remembered what my husband had requested of me. Even though it drove me crazy as a mom to hear my baby cry, I did not go into the bedroom. Time passed as I paced in the living room waiting for one of two things, either my son would fall back to sleep or my husband to go and get my son bringing him to me as he had promised. Unfortunately neither happened.

Soon my husband came storming out of his bedroom yelling at me asking me why the kid was still crying. Not thinking anything about it, I quietly reminded him of what we had discussed before bed. Within seconds, he exploded telling at me not to argue with him or talk back to him again. Then he went back to the bedroom and I went in and took care of my son. Looking back, if I knew then what I know now, things would have been different. However, back then I feared him.

Over the years, the outbursts continued to rise and fall depending on his mood. The abuse seemed to get worse when his dad came to visit or stick his nose in our relationship. There was once or twice he even brandished his service weapon to scare me. One time, which was, after he moved me away from all my family due to the first of two job transfers. I don't remember what started our disagreement, but while he was cleaning a deer rifle, he pointed it at me saying, "If only this was loaded."

There is nothing scarier then looking down the barrel of a gun held by an angry man. By then I was already under his control and was loosing any sense of who I was and leaving was not an option because I had nowhere to go or money to get there.

After years of abuse, which escalated over the years I had had enough and wanted out. Because I knew my children and I would be safer if I did not take them when I left.

Unfortunately I was not strong enough to stay away and before long I came back to the vary situation I wanted to escape from.

Each time I left and came back, which was about four times, the abuse got worse and our relationship dwindled even though he continued to ask why I was leaving him. All I could say was I was not happy anymore: and I wasn't. However, at that time I didn't know what would make me happy.

The last time I came back I was hoping things would be better. However, when I found myself looking out the window at the spikes on the fence five floors below I knew it was time to get out and stay out. Days before Thanksgiving 2002 was the last time I saw my ex.

Four years after I left I finally was strong enough to get a divorce and really start putting my life back in order. During that time I found and fell in love with a man I have been married to for three years.

Now that I am out and starting over I wanted to recap the steps I took that got me where I am today.

First, get yourself to a safe place, if possible. A shelter, a friend he (or she) doesn't know. The second step is getting a TRO- Temporary Restraining Order. This is issued by a judge. This will make it illegal for him to get near you while you are trying to seek a separation/divorce and get back on your feet.

Do not let the process overwhelm you. There are things you might need to do: Secure your safety, get an attorney, get a job, get a place to live, and maybe even go through counseling because you were abused.

Now if you are reading this and wonder if what you are going through is domestic violence here are a few things that may give you the answer. Abusers will say things that make you afraid of being hurt. Belittle you and make you doubt your intelligence and make you feel dumb and unimportant.

After an abusive encounter, he or (she) will say they "are sorry it won't happen again." Do not believe them because it will happen again and often more violent then the last time. The fact is abusers do not play fair.

Once you have decided on a divorce here are a few things to discuss with your attorney:

After the hearings, you can start the healing process yourself and become the strong and independent person you are.

How do you start that? By seeking out counselors who are either private practice or mental health clinics. If you have online access you can search for domestic violence support groups, there are several around.

In conclusion remember you are worth it no matter what anybody else says. Be all you can be. Just take one-step at a time.


For more articles on marriage, relationships, and divorce, visit  http://divorcemag.com/articles/yourspace

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July 11, 2010
Categories:  Coping with Divorce

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