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Abusive Relationships/Guilt about leaving abusive husband


QUESTION: My husband and I have been married four years. We have a daughter together. There have been incidents of physical and emotional abuse all through our marriage. A year ago, he did something illegal and went to prison. While initially I was supportive and visited often, I began to feel that I was wasting my time in a very broken marriage. It took awhile, but I recently moved in with my parents and told him I would be seeking a divorce. He cried and said he was just so heartbroken, how could I leave him in his time of need? We have been split for just a week, and I am drowning in guilt. How can I overcome the guilt and stay gone? I really dont want to go back to that, but Im not sure how to proceed. thank you.

ANSWER: Hi Amber

God never wants us in abusive relationships. Sometimes God gives us a way out. Perhaps this is also a learning and growth time for yourself and a time for reflection of what you want in your future, for both of you too.

Most abusers never change. The rage remains. I would advise you to be very careful because of this - these types can kill. Don't rationalize that they won't or can't.

Visit your battered women's shelter, join their counseling groups, and find out how to go "No Contact" before he gets out.  Also consider and discuss injunctions to protect you and your child. Then do exactly as they say. I would also consider counseling for you - to heal and then to find out why you were willing to accept this lifestyle for any length of time. I am very glad you are out.  

My wish for you is to heal, start your life over, and teach your daughter that it isn't her fault, and that daddy has problems from when he was young that he needs to work out, but it has nothing to do with her. Say it often and in love many times, because the biggest problem for children in this setting is they aren't often told this, and as little persons, they fill in the "why's" themselves...and can take the blame onto themselves if they aren't reinforced and informed continually.

Never consider a child can't understand. Just never let them fill in the blanks themselves - talk to them so they can understand at each level, and have a chance to understand and heal too.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks for the great response! I should have clarified that he is already out. He is stuck in a city 2 hours away. He is homeless with no vehicle either, and no family of his is willing to help him out. He has left me five voicemails this morning, and it was earlier than my 3 year old and I would have been up. But due to the phone continually ringing, we were woken up. The voicemails said things like Im sorry, you were right. I have found God, I wish you would believe me. Ive been faithful to you since Ive been out. (trust is a big issue as well, he cheated on me throughout our marriage.) I still love you, why dont you still love me? Please call, I hate calling and just talking to our daughter when I want to talk to you ( our 3 year old adores him, but I feel like she is now a tool to get through to me. makes me sick inside!) Cant you at least be civil and answer your phone? ( I dont wish to speak to him, he is very manipulative and could talk me back into the relationship quite easily, He has done it before, and I dont want to go back.)I have used money out of my own pocket to come see you. (this one floored me. This trip to prison is only the fourth time since weve been together. He has been to county jail three prior times, and Ive went to see him regularly each time. When he went to prison, I moved to that town to be closer to him. When he got out, for awhile I spent money on a hotel and the two hour trip there and back to come see him. He came to see me once, via bus.)

Also, He had moved me to a different state with his family, so when I left, I left the state he was in to move back with my family in a different state. I could use some thereapy, or a support group, but as I am new to this area, how can I find a support group?

Hi Amber

Thank God you have a supportive family, many don't, and end up in desperate situations. Go to the domestic Battery division of your courthouse and file injunctions against him to protect you and your daughter. Tell them what you told me - the calls are escalating since he is in prison and he scares you in many ways that make you afraid the abuse will escalate when he gets out.

Then seek their advice about battered women's shelters and their counseling opportunities. Often the shelters are hidden to provide more protection, so you will  have to ask about them.  They have regularly scheduled counseling that is focused on abusive relations- this is important because counselors who haven't been in this situation themselves or experienced it close to them, seem to have a disconnect when counseling, with the things they say,  that can be even more damaging to the person seeking council.

Also, educate yourself with this blog and website and LEARN- it's a form of healing in itself, to know that you aren't alone in this.

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Sonya Snyder


All answers pertaining to surviving and leaving abusive relationships


Was a victim of domestic violence and abuse, and studied to get my MA in forensic psychology to understand the abnormal mind of serial abusers. Much abuse isn't physical, and though it can be the most damaging long term - the emotional abuse is rarely understood nor dealt with by our court and legal systems, leaving victims feeling trapped and unsupported. I will give back to others what I have learned as a successfully surviving and thriving veteran of both family and domestic abuse, so they can get out, heal, and live truly free, too.

BA Journalism, soon-to-be completed MA in Forensic Psychology

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