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#HERStory – Episode 4: The Woman Who Fought Back

Updated: Mar 24, 2020

What Did She Do?

I Survived and Escaped an Abusive Marriage

The Woman Who Fought Back: I met him when I was 19 years old. We were both in the university. He had big brown eyes and the warmest smile you can ever imagine. He was a very shy guy. When we first met, he couldn’t approach me in person, so he sent me the most romantic text. It was a beautiful beginning to one of my biggest nightmares. We dated throughout university, broke up a couple of times, got back together again and again. It was a lot. But he had always been the sweetest, calmest guy, or so I thought. He always had a temper. Loud emotional outbursts, tantrums, and the occasional out-of-character physical violence on himself. It happened a couple of times. One day, after we had just gotten back together from a 6-month break-up, with a new boyfriend in-between, we had a fight. He got upset that I let my rebound boyfriend get rid of some of his stuff I had held on to. He hit the glass table in my living room so hard, he tore his fingers. He apologized profusely and said it was not usual for him. We got married at the end of that year. It was the happiest day. He cried a lot, told me I was everything to him, he thanked me endlessly for agreeing to be his wife. I felt safe, happy and loved. We had been married for almost 2 years when it first happened. I was breast feeding our 3-month-old in the bedroom. He barged in, physically upset because he had been calling me from the kitchen. I was battling post-natal depression and I lashed out back at him “Shut up!”, I screamed. All I remember after that was a sharp pain on my forehead, and I blacked out. I woke up at the hospital later that evening, with my head all plastered up. He had thrown the glass cup on the coffee table by the bed at me after I lashed out at him. He woke up beside me. His eyes full of tears. He kept begging me. That was the first of many physical attacks I experienced. It grew from just the glass cup thrown, to actual physical wrestles, to even emotional blackmail. Every time he abused me, he would cry, buy me gifts and swear that he was out of control, that it would never happen again. I would take him back and he will do it again and again. I loved him and I knew he loved me too, and because of that, I kept staying. I did not have the strength to leave him.

How Did She Do it?

I Realized My Kids were no Longer Safe

The Woman Who Fought Back: We had been married for 7 years. Our eldest daughter was now 5 years and her baby brother, a toddler. We had just moved into a new apartment. He had not hit me in months. I was sure the nightmare had ended. I was wrong. We had gone to a wedding that Saturday. At the wedding, I bumped into one of the exes I dated during one of our break-ups. My ex-boyfriend walked to our table, we shared a hug and a few minutes of conversation. My husband, who was sitting beside me was watching in silence. He was furious. I mean, I understand why, but I honestly meant no harm. On the drive home, he said nothing. As soon as we walked in through the living room door, I felt a heavy punch on the back of my head. I was holding our toddler. I screamed and quickly dropped our baby on the couch. I felt this heavy wave of fear. I began begging him. Our daughter started begging too. He launched at me with his fist. I was on the floor. He kept punching, kicking and hitting me recklessly. At some point, he started to choke me. My daughter, who was trembling with fear ran to me to get his hands off my neck. He aggressively pushed her to the ground, and my daughter hit her head on the side of the chair and started bleeding. At this point, I also got furious. I pushed him off my body, hitting his groin to destabilize him, rushed to my daughter and ran with her and my son to one of our rooms, locking the door behind me. I held my kids and cried. There was silence all of a sudden. It was like he disappeared. I was in so much fear and did not know what to do. After I had made a make-shift bandage to close my daughter’s wound, I waited till it was dark, then I snuck out with my kids and ran back home to my parent’s. That was the day I made up my mind. I loved him with all my heart, and I knew he loved me too, but he had anger issues that had now jeopardized the safety of my kids. If I was not strong enough for myself, I had to be strong enough for my kids. The next week I filed for a divorce. It was the most difficult thing I have done till this day.

A Moment That Tested Her

Finding the Strength to Follow Through with The Divorce – Being a Single Mom

The Woman Who Fought Back: I think the most difficult part of this whole experience was summoning the courage to leave him. I loved him so much and he loved me too. I think that was why it was so difficult. It’s hard walking away from someone you love for a reason that’s out of your control. You build this internalized guilt that haunts you, making you feel like you could have done more, you could have tried harder, done things differently. For the longest time, throughout the divorce, I questioned my decision. I wanted to go back to him. I wanted to try harder. I wanted to fix him. What made it worse was that he was so remorseful. He kept begging and apologizing. He sent flowers, sent his family members to me, sent gifts, everything. I knew he was in a bad place, and I just wanted to go back to him to comfort him. I loved him so much and hated seeing him in pain because of my decision. Another big fear was the loneliness that was going to come after divorcing him. He was the love of my life. I did not want anyone else. I wanted to be with him forever. I cried myself to sleep a lot this period. I had to take time off work. I still had to put on a brave face for my kids. It was a whole lot. But, somehow, I found the strength to survive through this.

Her Eureka Moment?

The Realization That It Was Out of My Control

The Woman Who Fought Back: Surviving that change was very difficult for me. I remember thinking that I could not do it. I would call my friends and tell them I was calling off the divorce. They would almost scream at me. I remember the last day of the court case when the marriage was finally nullified. He looked me in the eyes, his eyes, filled with cloud of tears, mine too. We said no words, but a lot was said in those few moments. I cried like a baby the whole ride home. Everything felt right as soon as I got a warm hug from my kids that evening when I got home. I knew it was all worth it for them. No child deserves to grow up watching their father beat up their Mum. It is just not okay. They gave me the courage I needed to move forward. To be very honest, if it had not been for them, I think I would have gone back to him. Eventually, I realized it was beyond me, and as much as I wanted to stay, and fix him, this was really out of my control. I had a plan for my future, this was not it. We were meant to spend together forever as husband and wife, I still loved him and he loved me. Nonetheless, I could not stay with a man that hit me, no matter how much I loved him.

What She Learnt

The Woman Who Fought Back:

  • Love is not enough reason to stay in an abusive relationship. You must find the strength to leave for yourself and those who love you.


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