I would like you all to meet Meg. Hers is a very powerful story and a lesson for us all. Her story is about abuse, the type of abuse that goes unseen and unrealized, even by the victim. She shares bits and pieces on her blog: Meg In Writing Link but she is sharing her story here. I have such respect for Meg; her strength and courage are truly inspirational to me and I hope it is for you too. Please check out her blog and lend her your encouragement and support.
Emotional abuse and coercion are often misunderstood. I believe Meg’s story gives a lot of insight into an abuse victim’s thought process. It is more intense, intricate and complicated than most people realize. Abuse is about power – how wonderful when a victim finds their inner strength and rises up and says “No more!”.
I didn’t suffer from physical abuse. Mine was sexual coercion, financial, and verbal/mental abuse at the hands of my (then) husband. I talk about what happened to me on occasion on my own blog, but I’ve never really done it all at once or to this degree.
I got married in January of 2014. Everything in our relationship had been fine, until we began living together by ourselves. About two months after we were married, he lost his job. He refused to draw unemployment because he thought it was shameful. Despite not being able to afford it, I found myself as the sole-income for the two of us for about three months while he looked for work. I later found out he has a mental illness (that his family already knew about, but no one told me until after we were married) and losing his job was a sort of trigger for him. My parents were a lot of help financially during that time, but him losing that job was the catalyst that began everything.
I consider myself to be a strong and intelligent woman, but I did not recognize his abuse for what it was. I think that’s an important thing to get across. Despite all my psychology classes, college education, and law enforcement family, I had no idea until after I left that my husband was abusive. Part of me wishes he had just hit me one time – just one. If he had, I would have left in a heartbeat. Instead, I kept telling myself I needed to stay with him because we hadn’t even been married a year, and what would people think?
It started with finances. He would constantly tell me I was being too pushy when I would tell him I needed him to find work. When he finally did, he would get upset when I reminded him about bills. If he “forgot” about them and I got upset, I was the bad guy. Eventually, I got him to agree to pay for his car payment (not in my name), his insurance (not in my name) and our groceries. I paid for everything else, because he wouldn’t. There were times when I went to him in tears for gas money because I had nothing left after paying the bills, and it would take him days to give me the money, if he did at all.
As time went on, he got more verbal. He was constantly telling me how pushy I was, even calling me a b***h on more than one occasion. If I cried, he told me I was being overly sensitive. If I called him, he would ignore my phone calls. Sometimes I would use someone else’s phone immediately after calling him, and he would always answer right away. He also wouldn’t return my texts, claiming he never received them and surely he needed a new phone because his was so messed up.
Then, there was the lying. He’d always been one to exaggerate, so at first, I didn’t think much of it. As time went on, things got worse. I gave him the benefit of the doubt every time, even if I was 100% sure it was a lie, simply because I had no physical proof he was lying. He lied about everything – how much money he made, how much he worked, what he did all day, if he paid his part of the bills – everything. If I called him on it, he would go on and on about how I didn’t trust him and I was being too controlling.
After that, came the social isolation. Any time I went out with friends, even female friends, he would get angry. He began accusing me of cheating on him. He would badger me about it until I was in tears, vehemently denying his accusations. Then, he always ended the conversation with, “Well, you better not be. If you ever cheat on me, I will walk away and you will never see me again.” Even the teenage students I worked with did not escape his accusations. It got so bad, I stopped talking to anyone. I went to work and came home, even though he was hardly ever home.
As I became unhappier, I became less and less interested in sex. If he told me he wanted it and I said no (which I usually did, by that point), he would keep asking. If asking me repeatedly did not work, he would begin to guilt me into it by saying things like, “If you really loved me, you’d do it.” I heard that a lot. If that didn’t work, he would either storm out of the house or he would ignore me completely.
As Christmas approached, I was really miserable, and he was working increasingly longer hours. There were times when he wouldn’t come home all night, despite the fact that he knew I was incredibly uncomfortable being home by myself at night. I’d call him again and again, but he would never answer. Anything I asked him to do, he would simply ignore or “forget” to do – including taking out the trash I put in front of the door at night, despite the trash bin being right in front of his car.
Less than two weeks after our first anniversary, I found out he had been having an affair for at least two months. It was the key I was looking for, and I left that night. I talked to a psychologist after I left him, and he told me my ex’s behavior would never go away completely if I decided to stay. Because of his illness, the only way to improve (not cure or fix) what was happening would be medication, but our lives would always be wrought with turmoil. All that did was solidify my decision and desire for divorce (finalized in the spring of 2015). I’ve only seen him once or twice since then, thankfully, though he does still show up to talk to other members of my family. Until the divorce was final, any time his name was mentioned, I felt sick to my stomach. Every time he does it now, I always have one of two reactions: anxiety or anger. Most of the time these days, that stomach-churning feeling gives way to anger.
I have a new boyfriend now. He’s sweet and caring, and he’s always so patient when we discover another road-bump from my marriage, but together, we’re finding out my ex-husband left more scars than I thought he did. I’m healing, and I’m happier than I’ve been since before I even started dating my ex-husband, but there are still scars. There is still healing to be done.