I get this question over and over on my other blog. The post that gets hit the most by internet searches is My Husband is Mean to Me and the Kids. Women who are struggling search the internet and find my blog. They are in ugly situations and don't know what to do.
They read what I wrote. They understand too well because it fits their lives. They ask me what to do.
And I have no idea how to answer them.
When I was in the middle of it, I didn't know what to do. And I didn't dare talk to anyone about it to try to get answers. I didn't think anyone would believe me. I was afraid it would make my husband angry. I thought it was a sign that I wasn't good enough. I didn't try enough. I was a quitter.
I don't believe those things now. I'm better and he's better and I wish that for everyone who reads my blog and feels a kinship. But I don't know how to make it happen for you. And it's not the only correct outcome.
My husband had a breakthrough moment. Then we both had a lot of therapy. He got better. He got worse. I got better. I got worse. We even separated for a while. And after years of hard work by both of us we are good. Almost all the time. But I don't believe most abusive relationships will work out like this.
And I remember feeling like I didn't have options. I was trapped. I couldn't support myself and the kids without him. If we divorced, he would have the kids some of the time on his own and I wouldn't be there to protect them. What if I was wrong and things weren't as bad as I thought they were? What if he was right and I was blowing things out of proportion and it destroyed our marriage? What if I ruined his life because I didn't work hard enough at our marriage? How could I handle the embarrassment of a divorce? How badly would I damage my children if we divorced? How badly was I damaging my children by staying? If I divorced him, he could choose to make my life a living hell.
I was so scared of taking the route of divorce. I didn't want to be with him. I prayed he would leave me. On really bad days I prayed he would die. Anything to relieve my suffering and protect my children. Without me having to take that horrible step I didn't want to take. There were too many things I couldn't predict and control. That's what made it so scary. And after so many years of abuse, I didn't believe in myself anymore. I didn't believe I could make it.
I didn't know my options. I know them better now. But I don't know all the options.
I know that I can leave without explaining myself. I know I can call the police and have him removed from the home if he is threatening us or in a rage. I know I can get a restraining order against him. I know I can get therapy and become healthy myself even if he chooses to never change. I know I can talk about it to others. I know I can tell him how I want to be treated. And I know I have to be willing to stand behind my words if none of this changes him. Because he won't change unless he wants to -- no one will, no matter how much someone else wants them to.
I'm asking for help now. These women cry out to me. Often, they post anonymously so I can't even respond to them. But I'd like them to have answers. I like them to see options. I'm asking for help from anyone who reads this and knows something. If you've had experience with an abusive marriage, and know options, please share them. Any info is welcome. Therapists, lawyers, religious leaders, police officers, and those who've been there. Please comment and share what you know. Please share this with others who may know and ask them to help.
Please comment with respect. Please don't judge or preach. Please don't tell these women what to do, just help them see options. Each woman needs to listen to her heart and choose for herself. I recommend lots of prayer if you're a believer. I recommend therapy if you possibly can. I recommend writing if you don't dare talk to anyone yet.
Please try to believe in yourself again. You do have options.