Should you stay together for the kids?


I wish I could tell you there is a checklist or system to follow. Organization is what helps comfort me when I have to make decisions. But this is messy, it’s difficult, and not at all like the celebrities portray when they issue their loving statements about how they remain the best of friends but they just aren’t going to be married anymore. This is my story.marriageI was married young, 18 years old as a matter of fact. I was blinded by love for this handsome, military man from my hometown. He made me feel pretty and whisked me away to a foreign country with promises of adventure. However, once I arrived in this new land things were a little different. We lived in a tiny town far removed from the American military base. I couldn’t talk to my neighbors because I didn’t yet know enough of their language. I felt so isolated and I was in total culture shock. He would go to work and leave me alone in the apartment with no car, no map (this was well before we had the internet of today). I couldn’t even call my mom because it literally cost $20 just to talk to her for 10 minutes.

Then I became pregnant (which was a shock since I was on the pill). I was so terrified, and let’s just say he was less than enthused about this new development. It wasn’t an easy pregnancy, I was so sick and vomiting for months. I would pass out several times a week and get bloody noses all the time. My husband thought I was such a drag. He would go out with his buddies and not come home some nights, leaving me to wonder when he would come back. His answer to me was, “Well just because you can’t have any fun doesn’t mean I shouldn’t.”

This is when the verbal abuse started. I was having a particularly awful pregnancy day and feeling sick. I didn’t make it out of bed until just before my husband came home from work. The first thing he said to me when he walked in was, “I can’t believe you are so lazy that you couldn’t even get out of your disgusting sweatpants.” I was humiliated.

But the thing is, when we were out in public or around friends, he was so nice to me. He would say things like, “I don’t know how I’m so lucky to have a girl so pretty.” And I would fall under his spell once again. I was so confused. I blamed myself. I started to believe all of the cruel things he was saying about me and I vowed to be a good wife. I did all of the cleaning, the laundry, the cooking, I pressed and starched his uniforms every day (stopping to vomit in between). I made sure my makeup and hair was perfect when he came home so he would be happy with me. It never was enough.

I gave birth to our daughter and the first thing he said to me was, “Next time it will be a boy.” I was heartbroken. Now I had a child with this man that I knew was not right for me. Yet I felt so guilty to think of my child growing up without a father. I made a silent promise to myself and my daughter to stay and work it out. It had to get better.

Years later, things still hadn’t changed. We had another baby. And by now I was completely consumed by depression. I went to counseling. I was put on antidepressants. I devoted myself to my church and prayed for help. And I tried. So. Damn. Hard.

But by now I was being verbally assaulted every night. “You’re a freeloading b@#ch. You’re a disgusting slob. You look like a whore.” He would drink until he would black out, then wake up not remembering anything he had said to me the night before. He wouldn’t allow my family to come visit me, and he read all of my email messages before me to make sure I wasn’t saying anything bad about him and that I wasn’t cheating on him. (He always thought I was cheating on him). Still, I kept my vows and kept trying.

Then the physical abuse came. We got into an argument in the kitchen and he got so angry he shoved me down to the floor. I had bruises on my arms. I ran and locked myself in my bedroom. He came running after me and yelled, “You just fell! I don’t know what you’re so upset about!” He had a way of turning things around so that everything was my fault.

My kids were starting to see all the fights. At one time my little 4 year old son got in the middle of us and screamed at his dad, “Stop hurting my mommy!”

The final straw was when I saw my husband grab my son by the neck and squeeze it because he was upset by something he did. My son was cowering from the pain. That, I could NOT take. I could handle everything he did to me and put up with it for 10 years, but I refused to let my kids be victims.

I talked with a counselor and my parents. They helped me put a plan in place to leave. I had absolutely nothing to my name, but I had to get out. I maxed out two credit cards just to pay for the move to get me back to my hometown. I’m so grateful I had a support system to see me through. So many women don’t.

It’s been over 10 years now since I left. It was the hardest thing I ever went through. Working through all those years with my kids and trying to ensure they still had some type of positive relationship with their dad was painful.

It’s taken me a long time to come to terms with all of this. As I write this, I still feel fear in the back of my mind. I’m here to tell you I survived. And leaving him was worth it. (I am ashamed that I didn’t leave sooner.) Now I am finally able to feel self worth again. And most importantly, my kids grew up safe and thriving in our new reinvented family life.

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic abuse. Please call 1−800−799−7233 or visit


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