In part one of this article, I discussed the different ways that my husband has emotionally abused me over the course of our relationship, including his attempts to completely isolate me.
The scariest part to me now is the fact that if he had ever accomplished his goal of completing isolating me, he would’ve become physically abusive. We only had one incident of physical abuse, but it was foreshadowing. This incident also introduced another one of his tactics to control and abuse me: economic abuse as a way of asserting power and control by way of finances. He would demand to be in control of our money–what we spent, how we spent it. All of this left me financially dependent on him.
We were saving up for our first apartment together when he took a large amount from our joint savings and spent it on alcohol and drugs. I of course confronted him about it. I made the mistake of making him angry and stepping in front of him to keep him from avoiding the issue and gaslighting me. He threw me across the room in front of my oldest son, who was about two years old at the time. I landed inside a clothes hamper as he yanked the door open and tried to storm away.. My brothers and father stepped in. My husband apologized and promised to never put his hands on me again, and he didn’t. But now he had a reason to try and isolate me from my family, since he saw that they would intervene if they found out about him abusing me.
We moved into our apartment a few months later. Things were great for a time. He insisted on handling our bills while I took care of the home front. I would work and then come home to clean and cook like a “good wife.” After awhile I realized he wasn’t paying the bills. I still don’t know what he did with all that money. I found out he wasn’t paying our bills when I came home early from my third shift job and found the final eviction notice on the door. I was shocked because I was working two jobs and he had a decent job at the airport. I thought we were fine. I then found out he had “lost” his job and “didn’t want to worry me.” He had planned to get another job before I noticed anything was wrong. I forgave him and said that it was okay, because I could give him more of my money to cover the missed rent, only to find that he also wasn’t paying the utility bills This was the catalyst for my second escape attempt from our relationship.
The economic abuse escalated to the point where no matter what job I had, he would find something to not like about it. It was too far away or he couldn’t contact me all day due to my work policies. He wanted to be able to harass me or pop up at my job whenever he wanted. He cost me my last really good job because he wouldn’t stop picking arguments and terrorizing me. I had to quit because I literally couldn’t stop sobbing at my desk. I was embarrassed by my relationship, to say the least. All of this abuse made me feel incapable of doing anything independently of him, which was his goal to begin with. He wanted me to feel as though I needed him so it would be harder for me to leave. The average woman experiencing intimate partner violence attempts to leave the relationship five times before finally ending it, and many lose their jobs during these attempts to leave.
I escaped back to my mother’s house, only to be manipulated again. This time it wasn’t suicide attempts–it was him going to the military. I saw his enrollment in the military as a promise of stability. No more money issues. I went back. Unfortunately, he had lied about taking the test required to enter the army. I was now stuck in his trap again. At this point, I wanted to expand my family and thought I would stick with him for better or worse. He was my husband, after all. I didn’t think he was intentionally trying to hurt me. I started to tell myself he just needed to grow up some. That is the price of marrying so young.
In the final segment of this article, I’ll discuss how the emotional abuse continued through the birth of my two sons, and where I am today.
If you or someone you know is in an emotionally abusive relationship, you are not alone and can get help. The National Domestic Violence hotline offers free and confidential help via phone and chat. Learn more at https://www.thehotline.org/ or by calling 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY). If you are local to the Triangle in NC, the organization Interact likewise offers free and confidential services, including support groups: http://interactofwake.wpengine.com/get-help/.