What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here.  Today’s guest post is by an anonymous writer.

Being in an abusive relationship is one thing, leaving an abusive relationship is another….and having that abuse escalate after leaving is hell. I was with a controlling, verbally and emotionally abusive man for 12 years. I knew he was abusive, but I loved him. So I stayed. Then I found something that I loved even more than him…my son. After I had my son I knew that I deserved better, that my son deserved better. So we separated. At first it was fine, but he was still controlling me. Controlling me from afar. Then after a few months of that…I filed for divorce and the hell began. He began to stalk me. He used my son as a tool and would send me text messages of him screaming and crying for me at night. He would send me pictures of him sitting, crying, in a pool of puke while telling me I was a horrible mother because I let him eat too much chocolate and that was why he got sick. He would come to my house and refuse to leave, he would do things to my house, try to burn holes in my carpet, threaten to move back in. He even put voice recorders in my home. I would call the police only for them to tell me that they couldn’t do anything because we were still married. He would harass me for 14 hours straight telling me that I was a horrible mother. When the divorce was final, I got custody and he got visitation…but the abuse continued. He would refuse to follow the court order, refuse to follow the public pick up. He would force me to come to his apartment if I wanted to get my son back. I would call the police “it’s a civil matter, call your attorney” they would tell me. I would call my attorney only for him to ignore my phone calls and emails. 

This went on for two years. No one would help. I was alone. When I started seeing someone, he went even more crazy and I took the initiative to file papers with the court to suspend his visitations. They did. He never showed up for court and hasn’t seen my son for almost a year. You would think that it would be the end of it…but the after effects of the abuse still linger. I have post traumatic stress disorder and depression. I am scared..all the time. I never feel safe. At the worst, I would pace back and forth through the house looking through windows waiting to see his car pull up. My ears are fine tuned to hear the loud exhaust of his car and anything that sounds like that makes my heart race. Loud noises make me feel uneasy, panic stricken even if I can’t hear the outside. Daytime is good, I’m better, but night time is bad. I have problems trusting those around me, there have been times that I thought that my friends were conspiring against me. I drive more through the rear view mirror than the windshield. I don’t like to go places in town for fear of running into him. I sleep with lights on so that I can see if he breaks into the house at night. He has guns and a conceal carry license. I have tried to rationalize with myself about death, and that if he kills me, they say heaven is good. Maybe heaven is good..and I try to make myself not scared to die…if he kills me. There are times when I delve into the internet so that my brain is busy so I don’t have to think about being scared. I live for my son. He is what keeps me going, what makes me happy and what makes me feel like I’m going through all of this for a reason.

Emotional abuse is real. It does things to your mind, to your spirit. It breaks you and you have to be stronger than you could ever imagine to come back from it. There have been times when I felt that maybe he wasn’t abusing me…maybe it was my fault. Maybe it wasn’t as bad as it seemed. But it was. Leaving was the best thing that I have ever done, but the last 3 years of my life have been pure hell. I can dance, I can sing, I can be silly with my son. I can even make mistakes without worrying about the consequences when “he” gets home. Most people wouldn’t know that I am like this, I go to work, I raise my son, we go to the park, we take walks, I smile, I laugh (a lot) but I never feel totally safe.

If you are leaving an abusive relationship….please make counseling your first step. If I had reached out for professional help when I first left I think I would have dealt better with the abuse after.