I was raised in Puerto Rico and my family moved to Los Angeles when I was just twelve years old. My mom and dad had a tumultuous relationship but I thought that’s just the way marriage is. At nineteen, to escape the tension in my parents’ home, I married and moved thirty minutes away from them. What did I know about being in a relationship? Not much. My husband was much older than me and liked to have a big say in the decisions we made. Every little decision from where to go to eat to how to decorate the living room, he had an opinion. He would make gestures of asking me for what I wanted, but in the end, we’d always go with his choice. I was young, eager to please and didn’t know better. I couldn’t really talk about it with my mother, because her relationship with my father was filled with so much tension. She seemed to enjoy the comradery of complaining about marriage. I knew talking to her about my situation wasn’t helping me.
Ten months after the wedding, I was pregnant. That’s when the real crazy-making began. He would start yelling at the slightest provocation. He even got physical with me a couple, well, maybe a few, times. When we would drive somewhere, he always drove. If he got angry, which was most of the time, he would stomp on the brakes so hard that it would jerk the car to the point where my head knocked on the dashboard. I became terrified to go in the car with him. I thought he would intentionally crash the car to hurt me. Then one day he stormed out of the house in anger and never came back.
I became a single mom and my parents were ashamed. They didn’t tell our relatives or their friends for months that I was now separated from my husband. They blamed me for him leaving the marriage. They said I must not have satisfied him. They urged me to reach out to him and beg him to return. I ignored them and I’m so grateful to finally be free from his constant anger. Thank goodness he left. Not that it was easy but now I would be free.
He moved farther away and from then on saw our son only every other month. He was the classic “Disneyland dad,” showing up on weekends for a fun day at the baseball game and then disappeared when it came time to discipline or make sure homework got completed. As my son aged, he started to see his father for who he was. His father cared only for himself and would ignore others unless he needed something. Once my son turned 18, he chose not to see his dad that much anymore.
My life is much better now. I tried to instill in my son the respectful way to treat a woman, and not the way his dad behaved. For me it is better to be lonely and happy with myself than miserable and in danger with someone else.
Has this happened to you? What advice would you give to someone in this situation?
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