Getting Out - leaving an abusive relationship

[The following was posted to Facebook by a member of the support group the week before Thanksgiving, 2016, and is reproduced here verbatim, with her permission.]

anonymous female profileIt was this time last year that I left my husband. I'm a Christian who believes strongly in the covenant of marriage and yes, I left. I was under an immense amount of stress as I made that decision, and looking back over the past year, I am SO thankful that I did, and for the way God has provided.

The following words are not meant to bash my ex-husband, but to provide support to anyone else who may be suffering under a similar scenario:

I do not think that divorce should be taken lightly. I do not think it is a decision to be made quickly. But, I DO think that you are worthy of respect and dignity. I DO think that your spouse should be willing to seek counsel from others. You should NOT be fearful of your spouse, isolated socially or financially, or made to follow his/her rules without compromise.

A situation like this is emotionally abusive.

When your spouse refuses to discuss a budget, and takes your debit card and checkbook instead, you are being emotionally abused. When your spouse yells at you every time your baby cries, indicating it's somehow your fault, then you are being emotionally and verbally abused. When you continue to hear your spouse's voice yelling in your head every time your baby cries (even when he's not home), you have been traumatized by his verbal abuse. When you feel like you must walk on eggshells in your own home, worried that even a failure to wash the dishes perfectly might set him off, then you are being emotionally abused. When your friends voice concerns about the way "he never lets you go out", but you dutifully defend your spouse's motives, you are being emotionally abused. When you feel confused by the way your spouse is so loving, patient, and attentive today, because just yesterday he pointed and looked you in the eye and said, "Fuck you!", then you are being emotionally and verbally abused. When your spouse says he loves his daughter "sometimes", then you and your daughter are being emotionally abused. When he says he loves you, but wants a divorce because he just doesn't "see you changing" and refuses to discuss marital issues or seek counseling, you are being emotionally abused. When he says he's either going to divorce you or kill himself, and then takes you out for an anniversary dinner 3 days later, as if nothing happened, you are being emotionally abused. When your spouse insists on divorce but refuses to take any steps toward it, opting to move into an upstairs guest room instead, this is not a sign of hope for the marriage - it is emotional abuse. When you are shamed for speaking (appropriately) to a co-worker of the opposite sex, you are being emotionally abused. When your spouse is the primary breadwinner because you stay home part-time with your baby and he quits his job without telling you beforehand, defending himself with, "but we never talk", and "it's your turn to step up and work more", you are being emotionally abused. And when the emotional abuse has caused you such great anxiety that you develop stress-induced stomach pains, can barely focus at work, and alternate between feeling numb and being on the verge of tears, then it's time for some space.

It's okay to separate. It's okay to step back and pray and figure out who you are and what you need to feel safe. It's okay to place your child's needs above your spouse's demands. It's okay to talk to a therapist, even one who's not a Christian. And, if this is not a wake-up call for your spouse, then it's okay to pursue divorce.

Physical injuries are not the only sign of an abusive relationship. If you identified with any of the statements above, please reach out to a friend, therapist, or pastor. You don't have to keep suffering. You can find your voice again.