When I divorced my husband on the grounds of physical cruelty (what the courts called domestic violence at the time), I thought I was free. The abuse would stop.
Physically, the abuse did stop, but abusers do not let go easily. When you have children with the abuser, they have an easy way into your life…even if they move on and find another victim for their abusive behavior. You escaped, and they can’t stand that loss of control.
Still, close to twelve years after my divorce, I stared in shock at my boss when he said to me, “Diane tells me your husband still abuses you.”
“No he doesn’t.”
I couldn’t believe that anyone who knew me would ever say or think that. I had never let him touch me again. In fact, just three years earlier, he had lost all visitation rights with our children. In the past few months, he had regained some rights, but he would never have the access the courts had given him during our divorce.
Looking back now, I realize he did abuse me , just through different means.
I recall one incident where he got angry at me over the phone. I had learned to hang up when this happened, separate myself from him. He didn’t stop calling. This was before Caller ID, so I answered once before I realized what he was up to. I hung up again, and the phone started ringing almost immediately. I had to leave the apartment to get away from it.
When I lived in Atlanta, he refused to set a specific time to return with the kids on his visitation weekends. I knew approximately when they would arrive but not exactly. When I suggested a set time, he became verbally abusive.
He, often, found ways to ridicule and harass me during the few moments he’d be at my door dropping off the kids or picking them up. I have no idea how many times I called the police because he would not leave. Of course, once I called the police, he would leave before they arrived.
So, twelve years after my divorce, I was still dealing with his abusive nature, but I didn’t see myself as abused. Why? Because I never let him get the upper hand. He tried. He wanted it, but I stayed firm in my stance against his attempts to control me. In my mind, I wasn’t giving in to his tactics, so I was winning.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
I stood strong. I did not let myself fear him or be discouraged by him. I trusted in a better “man” than him, I trusted in God and chose not to be the victim anymore. For me, the abuse had stopped.