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How To Leave An Abusive Man
Make your exit quickly and safely
In June, it will have been 10 years exactly since I began experiencing the happiest, most satisfying years of my life. My turn at the dessert table is now here after what was 24 years shared with a person who was angry at something every single day of our lives together.
He shouted. He broke things. He threw things. He threatened. He punished me with days or weeks of silences. He tried to control me and what I wore or said, and expected me to be a happy, loving wife as a result. It was all he knew how to do, having grown up in this environment himself. It was all he knew to do since it was how he was wired.
It took me two years to make the final exit.
The emotional cost is not without noting. One child was in college, another launching into college, and a third, was left dangling in junior high. I attempted to soften this break up – which is why it took two years to complete – but there is no easy way. If you are living with an angry man, it may be more efficient for you leave quickly, take the hurt, and go somewhere safe. There’s never a good time.
The expense is another thing. In these 10 years, I try not to recall what it cost. I tried to have a mediated divorce, which he “agreed” to, but in the end, he pulled the plug, and went after me with every bit of legal venom he could muster. Having seen too many nuclear divorces, and tens of thousands of dollars spent on attorneys as people try to “win,” I chose not to answer the legal challenges with a full assault.
It cost me my youngest child, who the court said belonged in the home he’d grown up in, while I had escaped to where my family lived in a neighboring state. This was frowned upon by the law, and if I were to do it over again, I would have taken my child in the middle of the night before any legal action had taken place. To wait until I was safe somewhere else meant he had time to create court orders that kept me from seeing my son for what seemed like a long time. It also meant my son was no longer to live with me, and only saw me on holidays.
I was devastated. After the court decision, I managed the plane ride home, only allowing myself to let go in the car on the way home from the airport. I cried so hard I couldn’t catch my breath. I couldn’t see the lines in the road.
But had I done things the other way, I know he would have calculated how to hunt me down and kill me. Did I have any proof that he would do that? How can you prove what someone “might” do? He liked to quote the line from the movie the Godfather, “Revenge is best served cold.” His gun was kept hidden in a cupboard in the bathroom.
But everyone else saw him as a fine person who mowed his lawn and paid his taxes. No one knew, because I was too embarrassed to ever tell anyone.
Just to bring it into perspective, these tribulations are now done and over – revenge, notwithstanding. My youngest son graduates from college this June, with a bright future. We have rebuilt our relationship and he moved in for many months last year while working an internship. My two other children are parents themselves, and we have happy visits over long meals and a shared bottle of wine.
Today, I’m not bitter, and I don’t dwell on it except on this upcoming anniversary. Internally, I wish him well – although we don’t speak if I can at all help it.
When I meet someone who is attached to an angry man, I give them my talking points, but I keep it short. I say: I finally mustered the courage to leave; it was the scariest thing I’ve ever done, but it was the most wonderful thing I could have done, and it changed my life forever for the better.