A Survivor’s Story

The abuse in my marriage began very early into the relationship although I was

never able to identify it as abusive behaviour. Somehow, my husband would

justify his behaviour and end up making me feel I was to blame for his actions. I

would end up apologising to him when I had done nothing wrong to begin with. It

started slowly and gradually and my husband would play on his hard upbringing

as a means of explaining so many of the behaviours that concerned me. I felt

sorry for him.

After our first son was born, he managed to make me feel like a bad mother and

so I ended up being a glorified slave – all the cooking, cleaning, childcare, grocery

shopping etc was to be done by me as he was financially supporting the family.

Even that was a lie because I was receiving more from the government in the UK

on maternity leave than he was earning. I lost 80 pounds in weight, was unable to

eat a thing, my hair was falling out and he still refused to help me. He would

throw out my possessions to ‘punish’ me if I raised any concerns. If I requested

he speak to me without name calling and using foul language, he would then

ignore me for as long as it took for me to break down in tears and beg him to not

be that way.

When we moved to Canada and had our second son, things escalated. I was

desperately unhappy but he kept insisting it was because I was doing such a bad

job at being a wife and mother. He would call me names and lock me out of the

house for running simple errands.

I had a very wonderful friend who I met through the church and one day I was

telling her things that had happened over the week before and I was so casual

about it as it was ‘normal’ for me. She sat there with her mouth wide open and

told me, “I have a husband, I have a son and I have a son-in-law. This is not

normal. This is abuse.” She found me a copy of the book “When Love Hurts” and helped me to

get into the “When Love Hurts” support group.

Even after I started attending group, I refused to accept that what I was experiencing was abuse. I got married for life.

He used to tell me that no matter what happened and no matter what he said and

did, it was all just a fight. Deciding to leave was such a battle. I took a vacation

with the children to visit my family and I told him that I wanted to

separate when I got back. He called our Pastor over immediately to talk me

round. The Pastor was reluctant to get involved as I had uttered the taboo word,


My family came to visit and witnessed his abuse. My father begged me

to leave. When my husband came home the day after my family left and had

spent all the rent money on a video games console for himself as a treat after

having to endure my family for 3 weeks, I told him I was done. He was furious.

He told me that if I left, he would keep the children from me and that he would

have me deported from Canada and I would never see my children again so I

agreed to stay.

In the meantime, I secured a home, an income and I had gone to the courthouse

to apply for custody of the children. When he was served with the papers, he was

furious and insisted on telling our 5 year old how mummy was leaving everyone.

The day I tried to leave, he shut me in the house and called child services to say the

children weren’t safe with me.

We have been separated for a year now and the abuse continues. Everytime, I do something that is in the best interests of the children, he calls

social services to file complaints against my parenting. As a childcare provider it

has been damaging to me career-wise too. He refused to let me have any

household items and my personal belongings, toys, clothing for the children, etc

from our marital home and so this has been an expensive process for me. He only

recently (after a court order was made) started paying child support. When that

happened, he said that he couldn’t afford to see the children anymore. He sees

the children very briefly.

I am now unable to return to the church that I worked at and attended for a long

time because, after our separation, the Pastor would check in on my husband and

offer him support. He knew what he was doing to me and the children. He had

even witnessed it himself. We were struggling so much financially, we ate from

the food bank and friends helped us. Yet, my husband was the one offered

support. Church members were discouraged from helping me as “I should be left

alone in my difficult time to come to terms with everything”. At the time when I

most needed the church community to stand behind me and my children, they

were not there. Only 2 people from within the church actually contacted me to

help. It was devastating for me as a Christian and a former employee of the

church to get no support from people who preached about such things.

It has helped my faith immensely that the “When Love Hurts” Support Group is held at a church. I have benefited greatly from this support group.

Abuse devastates

the lives of women and children but it doesn’t have to. A little bit of support and

encouragement goes a long, long way.

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