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Domestic Violence/Abuse, ending a relationship and starting a new one

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Question
Hi Kriss. Its going to be tough for me to admit some things here but I am here for advice so.... I've been in a relationship for 11 years. We never married because A. We both said we already felt "married" B. We had many issues and it was never "right" enough. Yet, I still thought Id spend my life with him. We have 2 kids together a 9 year old and almost 1 year old. I moved across the country years ago for our family...to make a better life. I have no family here...few friends. Maybe a year after we moved was the first time he pushed me and grabbed my neck. I forgave (stupidly) and he said it wouldn't happen again (I know they all do). Well over the course of 7 years the pushing, choking and grabbing and leaving my skin red and arm hurting has happened maybe 10 times. But honestly that's not my biggest concern. He talks to me like crap when he's mad or we are fighting....every name in the book.

When we first started dating as teens, I cheated on him within the first few months. I realized it wasn't going to work and told him what I did and tried to break it off. He came to my house and begged me not to leave him and told me how much he loved me. At that moment I felt so much guilt that I made a pact with God and begged him for my forgiveness and promised to be the best woman I could be for this man if he could just help us through this and give us a good life together. He was so sweet and caring and passionate. But he never let me forget what I'd done. He doesn't realize how controlling he has been in my life. I wasn't "allowed" to go to a bar or club with girlfriends from work because the guys I work with may be there too. Any dude I worked with was trying to get in my pants as far as he saw it. And I was always a whore or skank or slut.

Anyway, I guess its been a long time since I was happy. Actually we moved to a different area and within 2-3 months I noticed something was very off. We couldn't communicate...there was a lack of understanding and intimacy. I was feeling alone and so was he. He worked from home so we were always around each other getting on each others nerves. On top of that I homeschool my son. Many stresses. Right before I found out I was pregnant (7 months later), I accepted a friend request from an ex and started chatting online. The bf and I found out I was pregnant and we were both noticeably unsure and nervous about it all. We both knew (even though he won't admit it) we were very unhappy with each other and the relationship. I was actually planning my exit before I found out. Well, I stopped talking to the ex for several months then we chatted again before the holidays. The bf found out and we had one of the worst fights in our history....him chasing me as I tried to get away from his out of control anger and yelling (in front of our kid) and he choked me again threatening with his fist to punch me. I didn't fight him. I figured if he was really going to do it, he would. He backed off and I told him to leave. After much back and forth he finally did and went to stay w a friend.

So he took our only phone and car and left me 7 months pregnant all alone. I was devastated because I never thought in a million years he would do something like that to me. I contemplated leaving again right before and after I had the baby, but my heart is so freaking huge that I couldn't take away the moment of the babys birth from him. I actually thought after he sees what I went through to bring this life into this world he would come home act right and be a part of our lives....especially babys. I was so wrong. He was talking to a girl he used to work with telling her how much he loved her and only his oldest child....among at least 1-2 other females. I was devastated. How could he do this to me??

I haven't worked for almost 2 years. He was the one who suggested it....to take care of the house and dogs and homeschooling etc. When things started going bad he would talk to me like crap and hold that over my head that its "his" money and I needed to get a job etc etc. I exclusively nurse baby and could never pump. I also did every single bath time and all late nights by myself! In the summer he decided going to a concert was more important than paying bills so our gas was shut off. It runs everything! I had had enough! I packed my kids stuff and flew home. I was done. I mourned the relationship then. But I knew I needed custody. He sorta talked me into one last chance by the end of the summer. It was the best vacation I'd had in forever! I got back to me and was happy. But I went back. (Later I found out if I wouldn't have, him and the ex-coworker would have been a couple I suppose)

He was only in town for about a week every month for the past 4 months....working. When he was here (in town not the same house) he would make snide comments in front of the kids (they thought they were on a vacation) and literally pick a fight (i think it was anger and ego). I realized, again, IT WONT WORK! I started planning my exit again. I really hate how he talks to me in front of my kid (my kid lost respect for me and started talking to me the same way) and how he thinks of me (a leech). I have worked with my kid intensely and everything is good until dad comes home then its like my kid has forgotten everything!! He/she starts acting out and acting like he/she has it so bad with me when literally the day before he/she was saying how much he/she appreciated me and everything I do for him/her etc.My kid has come to me in the past an said how much the situation is killing him/her. I know this. I see it. Its been a year since we lived together.

So, an old family friend recently contacted me and we started talking and realized we have so much in common. We have the same goals and want to raise our kids the same way, think about life the same, fundamentals, morals, etc.. Ive never had a connection to anybody of the opposite sex like I have with him. I let him put himself out there before I say anything. I am weary of new relationships. I never ever saw myself jumping into another relationship. I honestly wasn't looking for one. I wanted to focus on me number one, and then the kids and I just started online college courses. I have a lot on my plate as it is. Romance...love....wasn't worked into the equation anywhere. But now, I'm falling hard and fast for him. Same goes for him...we are on the same page with this.

The bf? found out before I could tell him and he is rightfully heartbroken. But then again, how could he be when he has no respect for me and talks to me how a woman should never be spoken to? He saw it as everything was going good and he has this thought that he can do or say whatever he wants and as long as he apologizes it basically never happened. All is forgiven....until he does it again 3 days later. I just cant live like that. Apologies only mean something when you learn from them...don;t repeat your mistakes. He threatened to kill the guy and me (on the internet) and threatened me to my face a few times as well. My mother told me to call the police but my heart is too big to put him in jail. It has been almost a week since the incident and I don;t think he really would. I mean, he has said it in the past as well. He says its because he is angry and I can see that he's angry of course. It doesn't excuse it but....

I need advice. I want out. I do have family that will help me with the kids and financially until I get on my feet. I don't think I can keep trying in this relationship "for the kids" because we are toxic together. Yes, weve had super lows and many highs. Yes weve had a lot of years. I can see we aren't good for each other but he cant. I dont know what to do. He says he wont let me leave the state with the kids, but thats what I have to do! I can't support myself right now! I think he views me as property and he knows he has all the control because he makes all the money. Now he's using the kids as a tool to make me think I have to stay. I already told him he can't keep the baby because I breastfeed. I know its not a good environment for us and especially the kids. That's a huge motivation for me. But he told our oldest what I was doing (talking to someone) and now my oldest hates me. The bf thinks he still has a chance but I keep telling him that ship has sailed. It doesn't even have to do with the other guy because I planned on leaving him anyway. He can't believe it. I have been trying to be a peacekeeper...not fight not fuss hold my tongue for the sake of the kids. I  just don't know what to do anymore or where to go. My kids....number one. They are the reason I have tried for so long. I don't want to hurt my oldest so I have even contemplated leaving my oldest with his dad. I don't really want to go tot court either. But I realize their dad is not being reasonable. He will only agree until he realizes I'm really leaving then he will fight with me saying either he loves me and we are soulmates or you aren't taking my kids from me. I just need to hear it from someone else. Is leaving the right thing? How should I handle custody (I live in CA)? There is nothing here for me or to help me. I need a support system! I have no time for a job at this moment with both kids and my school and my oldest's homeschooling. Also, (I probably already know what you are going to say about this but I'm asking anyways) is it too quick to start dating again? I know I will probably go through more emotions after it's all settled and who knows maybe 6 months later too? I don't know. But as hard as it is for me to say, the only love I have left for him is love as the father to my children and provider for the family. That doesn't sound nice I know that. But it's the truth. I love him as a man...he is very smart and creative and hard working. I wish we could work it out. I just feel like we've been "working it out" for YEARS. And literally that's true. We did counseling for a year a few years back...maybe 3. And it didn't work. But talking with this new guy has been refreshing. Its different from anything I have ever known. I want to say it's a mature relationship whereas I feel like I've been in a teenagers relationship for years.

Please, any advice is much appreciated!

Answer
Dear Brittney,
Thank you for your question.  Domestically abusive relationships are very complicated as you well know.  However, most people who are violent, both male and female are usually suffering from a personality disorder. That means you are dealing with a person who has a mental illness.  There is no reasoning with an individual whose way of dealing with people is through intimidation, manipulation and control.  

Abusers are very charming at first, they make you think they are the most wonderful people on the planet.  Then they start the abuse and in that manipulation and control, comes ways of making the victim dependent.  You said it was his idea that you not work...that is the most common ploy to accomplish dependence.  Then you have children and then you are stuck.

You said that he asked you to give him another chance.  Does that mean that you never voiced your opposition to the way you were being treated?  Does it mean that you never told him that you didn't like being beaten and choked?  That whole one more chance thing doesn't hold water.  You gave him chance after chance after chance and he didn't listen to you.  You have gone back and forth and back and forth....its time to stop.  At this point, you are teaching your children that it is ok for a man to mistreat a woman and that your word means nothing.

Get out of the relationship before something happens to you or to your children.  Your oldest already doesn't understand that you are being mistreated and he is siding with his father.  That isn't a good sign at all.  Get out...leave...run and don't look back.  Don't listen to anything this man has to say.  Do what you need to do for you and your children.  He has had all the chances to change that you can afford to give him.  The longer you stay, the more damage you will inflict upon your kids...that isn't fair to them.  You can't work out problems with individuals who are unreasonable and aren't willing to do the long term work that they need to do to change more than their behavior for a few weeks.  No matter what you do, you can't change him.

As far as getting into another relationship, don't.  Get yourself some counseling from a good abuse counselor and heal the things within you that make you question whether staying in this relationship is a good or bad thing.  You need to understand what compassion is and what it isn't, what boundaries are, how to enforce them and what self respect truly is.  Then and only then, venture out into the relationship world.  If you don't find the healing that you need, you will run back into the arms of another personality disordered individual and start the cycle all over again.  You don't want that.  The road to an abusive relationship starts with...this guy is too good to be true.  There is no one who is too good to be true.  There are only those with relationship skills that allow them to work out problems in a healthy way.

I know that you know all this.  Just put one foot in front of the other.  Don't look back, don't talk to him because if he can engage you, he can manipulate you.  Just leave, begin a new life and start the healing process that you need.  Let your attorney do your talking for you.

If I can be of any further assistance, please feel free to contact me again.  I wish you all the best as you start this process and I hope it all works out for the best for you and your children.  

Domestic Violence

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Kriss Mitchell, M.Ed, CRC, CNHP

Expertise

I am able to answer questions with regard to problems that result from emotional abuse or physical abuse in both dating and marriage relationships. Having been in an abusive relationship for many years, I know first hand the feelings, the questions and the doubts we go through as we try to make decisions about our lives. Often victims of abuse have deep faith based concerns regarding staying in these kinds of relationships which I am able to address as well.

Experience

My background started as a victim of an emotionally abusive relationship as well as having family members who were victims of violence and physical abuse. I have gone on to become a professional counselor and I work with abused women.

Organizations
American Mental Health Counselors Association, American Association of Christian Counselors, International Association of Prayer Counselors

Publications
I currently maintain a blog at www.livingwellcc.blogspot.com. I also have links and currently written articles on my website at www.livingwellcc.com. You can also follow me on TWITTER @livingwellcc, or on facebook at Living Well Counseling and Consulting. My writings have appeared in The Good News Northwest and the North Idaho Business Journal

Education/Credentials
Licensed Professional Counselor, Board Certified Professional Christian Counselor, Certified Rehabilitation Counselor, Certified Natural Health Professional

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