Being in an abusive relationship is one thing, leaving an abusive relationship is another….and having that abuse escalate after leaving is hell. I was with a controlling, verbally and emotionally abusive man for 12 years. I knew he was abusive, but I loved him. So I stayed. Then I found something that I loved even more than him…my son. After I had my son I knew that I deserved better, that my son deserved better. So we separated. At first it was fine, but he was still controlling me. Controlling me from afar. Then after a few months of that…I filed for divorce and the hell began. He began to stalk me. He used my son as a tool and would send me text messages of him screaming and crying for me at night. He would send me pictures of him sitting, crying, in a pool of puke while telling me I was a horrible mother because I let him eat too much chocolate and that was why he got sick. He would come to my house and refuse to leave, he would do things to my house, try to burn holes in my carpet, threaten to move back in. He even put voice recorders in my home. I would call the police only for them to tell me that they couldn’t do anything because we were still married. He would harass me for 14 hours straight telling me that I was a horrible mother. When the divorce was final, I got custody and he got visitation…but the abuse continued. He would refuse to follow the court order, refuse to follow the public pick up. He would force me to come to his apartment if I wanted to get my son back. I would call the police "it’s a civil matter, call your attorney" they would tell me. I would call my attorney only for him to ignore my phone calls and emails.
Emotional abuse is real. It does things to your mind, to your spirit. It breaks you and you have to be stronger than you could ever imagine to come back from it. There have been times when I felt that maybe he wasn’t abusing me…maybe it was my fault. Maybe it wasn’t as bad as it seemed. But it was. Leaving was the best thing that I have ever done, but the last 3 years of my life have been pure hell. I can dance, I can sing, I can be silly with my son. I can even make mistakes without worrying about the consequences when "he" gets home. Most people wouldn’t know that I am like this, I go to work, I raise my son, we go to the park, we take walks, I smile, I laugh (a lot) but I never feel totally safe.
If you are leaving an abusive relationship….please make counseling your first step. If I had reached out for professional help when I first left I think I would have dealt better with the abuse after.