How did you tell others you were in an abusive relationship?
November 9, 2011 7:51 AM   Subscribe

I realized last night that I need to get out of my emotionally abusive marriage. I'm really scared for a lot of reasons. For those of you who have been in my shoes, how did you "come out" to others about your situation? How did you cope with people who told you you brought it on yourself?

Here are the basics: I'm in my 30's. I've been married for 1.5 years. I've been with my husband for 6 years. We are located in suburban Cook County. We have no children.

It's been a long, painful slide from being called "adorable" to being addressed as "you fucking dumb piece of shit" or "you fat lazy cunt." During the course of a day, he's more likely to tell me he loves me than call me one of those names, but when he does say that stuff, it cuts me straight through the heart.

He hasn't hit me, but he's come close a couple of times. For example, before our marriage, he held his hand up by my head during a fight and punched his hand instead of my head. We've been fighting so often lately that I'm afraid hitting will soon be on the menu.

But I have to be accountable here: Before he called me "you fucking dumb piece of shit" last night to end an argument, I called him an asshole. In doing some research, I've found that DV specialists don't consider that the most loving behavior either. I've hit him a couple of times on the arm during fights, but that was four years ago and it scared the shit out of me and I went into counseling and got on medication and I haven't hit anyone since.

I realized last night that it's not going to get any better. "I just get so frustrated when you do dumb things," he said later. I've tried being calm and rational during a fight, but usually I end up screaming and swearing right back at him. He refuses to get any sort of counseling, even when I told him our marriage was at risk. I am currently not seeing anyone either, due to my finances.

I am so ashamed to tell anyone how bad it's become. I've told a couple of supportive co-workers that I was not happy in my marriage and I was thinking about divorce before this, but I couldn't rely on them for further help. My support system is far-flung and for the most part, not located in the Chicago area. If I leave, I most likely can't stay here, as I have no car of my own, no money of my own, and I work for the same company as my husband does.

I'm especially nervous to talk to my parents. I come from a household where my parents screamed at each other about every little thing, but it never got to the point I've described above. My mom always told me when we heard about someone we knew who was going through DV or had divorced an abusive spouse that she brought it on herself. My dad will rage about the $20k he spent on our wedding and liken me to Kim Kardashian. In fact, my brother grabbed my arm 10 years ago so hard it bruised and my parents did not punish him and told me I brought it on myself.

I feel so horrible. I have a history of depression and anxiety and I can barely function these days. (Most of our fighting has been tied to my trouble at work and that the house is not as clean as he wants it to be.) I don't know where I can turn to.

(Tl;dr: I am in an abusive marriage which I need to leave. I have no support system where I live. I am too ashamed to talk to the people in my support system out of state and I don't have a lot of resources to start over. Divorce would mean a tremendous upheaval to my life on top of the legal proceedings. If you've left an abusive relationship, how did you do it?)
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (32 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I'm so sorry that you feel trapped and alone. Your husband's abuse could be exacerbating your feeling of isolation. I have an older sister who left an emotionally abusive husband a few years ago. One of the things that he used to do was pick fights with our family, to make my older sister feel like she was alone in the world with him. I send you hugs and support, as ephemeral as those are over the internet.
I think that you should start by finding experts in your area, to guide you through the process to finding the best outcome for you. A quick google shows that Cook County has a kind of clearinghouse website for Domestic Violence Resources. Maybe that would be a good place to start finding the answers that work best for you.

The decisions that you are making now are the ones that will save your life. Forget the expense of the wedding, forget your parents emotions, and do what you have to do to make yourself a life in which you feel safe and valued.
posted by pickypicky at 8:02 AM on November 9, 2011 [4 favorites]

I'm not in your shoes, but I've known people who have been. At this site there's a list of websites and phone numbers of resources in your area for people in your situation. You're far from alone.

Your parents don't seem like rational people and you should take that into consideration when you hear their reaction. You know your reality. You know the stakes. You're making the right decision for you and you alone.

Take care of yourself. My thoughts are with you.
posted by inturnaround at 8:03 AM on November 9, 2011 [3 favorites]

Start by calling a local women's shelter, or, if you don't have a preferred one, call the Chicago DV hotline or try this county-wide DV service locator. They can help you make a plan to get out safely and can provide resources to aid you in that.

Perhaps you should put off telling your parents until you've spoken with some DV advocates and made some plans. "I spent $20,000 on this wedding" is not a reason to stay in an abusive marriage.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:04 AM on November 9, 2011 [17 favorites]

You are not alone.

I left a bad marriage some years ago and I was ashamed, embarrassed and thought that no one would believe me. Imagine my surprise when the response was about like this:
70%: that's awful! How can I help?
29.9% - OMG, me too! Been there . Similar happened to me. How can I help?
(I was very surprised that not only was I NOT ALONE but so many people had been through something similar)
.1% you should have tried to work it out (said by ONE coworker with crap judgement and I don't share things with people like him anymore).

You are strong; you are doing the right thing and anyone who doubts you is wrong.
posted by pointystick at 8:07 AM on November 9, 2011 [27 favorites]

I am so, so sorry that you find yourself in this situation. Please call a women's shelter, they will help you build a support system, and some people there will become your support system, and you will not be alone. One of my friends volunteers with Between Friends, and I've met the director, who is a lovely woman, and some of the staff members. If they are not conveniently located for you, there are many other organizations like them in the Chicago area. I wish you all the best as you start to rebuild. You can do it. You've made one of the most difficult decisions already - deciding to get out.
posted by slmorri at 8:17 AM on November 9, 2011 [2 favorites]

What pointystick wrote above I could have written! Don't listen to anyone who is not supportive. Call one of the resources listed above and get help right now.
posted by mareli at 8:31 AM on November 9, 2011 [2 favorites]

I'm so sorry you're going through this, and you have no reason to be ashamed; you've done nothing wrong. My mother has stayed in her psychologically abusive relationship for 45 years, so I'll give you the perspective of what it's like to stay.

It's awful. She's been depressed my entire life (I'm 41). She has absolutely no self-esteem and no friends. She only talks to me and her sisters, and she actually doesn't even tell them personal details. If it weren't for me, she'd have no one to talk to (and I actually don't want her to talk to me about it; that's another thread). She's miserable every single day. She doesn't work because he doesn't want her to but he complains when she spends any money at all on herself. She's taken all the horrible things he's said about her (very similar to what your husband is telling you now, and worse) to heart and believes them. She believes that she's no good, that she's worth nothing. She's almost 70 now and is so scared by what leaving means for her (no financial security, even though I've told her she can live with us) that she won't leave.

She won't ever leave, and her entire life has been co-opted by this asshole who feels so badly about himself that he has to tear down the one person who has stood by his side. Don't be like her. Get out and hold your head up high because of it.
posted by cooker girl at 8:36 AM on November 9, 2011 [20 favorites]

Is the marriage definitely over, as far as you are concerned? His refusal to get counseling might change if you were to file for separation. You know the truth. I just don't understand how a relationship of six years can crumble so fast.

I'm also concerned that while he has never hit you, you hit him (four years ago admittedly) and have also been verbally abusive. Kudos for claiming this behavior. It sounds to me like you are both very similar. You both name-call, you both are prone to frustration, anxiety and violence.

I'm not trying to blame you or take sides. But I have friends who had similar problems and were able to reconcile when one party showed that they meant business by filing for separation. If you really think this marriage is dead -- again, it's only been 1.5 years and you're at this stage? -- I would separate, talk to your supervisor and maybe get some time off if possible, then get out of town to clear your head. You need to reach out to your out-of-state friend(s). As for your parents, once your plans are set, I would inform them of what is going to happen, and tune them out if they start in with the expected behavior.

Good luck.
posted by teedee2000 at 8:37 AM on November 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Don't listen to teedee2000. There's no shame in this -- you're not obligated to try to fight to make this work because it's been however many years. Whatever your own role in the deterioration of this marriage, it's obviously not working and I cannot imagine it beginning to work again when you've reached the point of one person calling the other "you fucking dumb piece of shit." You need to leave.
posted by peacheater at 8:44 AM on November 9, 2011 [41 favorites]

teedee2000, it doesn't really matter who's at "fault" here. A marriage can be mutually abusive, or just plain really crappy. In fact, I seriously doubt that there is any abusive relationship where the abused party acts like an angel -- that's probably a media-created image. And ultimately, even if the OP is partially fault, that doesn't mean that she's obligated to fix her faults and stay in the marriage as some kind of penance, if it really has deterioated so far.
posted by yarly at 8:44 AM on November 9, 2011 [11 favorites]

I haven't been in your situation before (but almost). Remember that you don't have to tell the same story to everyone. You can discuss the DV aspects with those who will be supportive. You can tell your parents that "its something that's been building for a long time. I don't like who I've become and I want to feel good again. He's not on board with that. He tears me down and thinks that's okay. And then it feels like tearing him down is the only option and I'M not okay with that."

To your folks, you may need to say "my decision has already been made. Can you support me by ....?"

Regarding the wedding, you could say something like "that day remains one of the most beautiful days of my life. I will always cherish it, and I know that its a gift YOU gave me."
posted by vitabellosi at 8:45 AM on November 9, 2011 [6 favorites]

I'm so sorry for what you're going through and that you feel so isolated. You don't deserve to feel scared, to feel isolated, or ashamed.

I want to repeat that last one: You should not feel ashamed.

I think that calling or visiting a women's shelter is a great idea. What you need are resources, and an experienced, patient and kind ear, and someone to help you understand what your options are and to help you navigate them.

What you do NOT need is judgement, someone telling you what you should or should not do, or someone judging you for your emotions.

I think that the paradigm shift of looking at your relationship as an emotionally abusive one that you are concerned is very likely to escalate into a physically abusive one has been a helpful tool to open your eyes to how unhappy and at the mercy of your husband's anger issues you are. I would say, use that moniker: "abusive" only as long as it helps you keep perspective. Remember that relationships, particularly dysfunctional or difficult ones, are all different and unique. If you get too caught up in the dogma, you can easily confuse yourself. "Well, actually maybe it's not abusive because on this test in this magazine I only scored 6/12". Or "because I am in an abusive relationship I am marked for life and there is something wrong with me."

Hogwash. You are the one who knows, and is in charge of, the story of what happens to you. Be honest with yourself, lean on the resources you can get, but remember that this is your life and everything that happened yesterday is in the past - and everything you do going forward is in your control.

Here's the reality of the situation, and never forget it:

You are unhappy and feel isolated. You don't have to feel this way.
You are concerned that what is already an unhappy and sometimes scary situation will escalate to get worse. Good for you for recognizing it. You can turn this around!
You are in control of your own actions and what sort of behavior you will tolerate. Trust your gut, take your time.
The people in your life you are supposed to trust the most can't be trusted to be kind to you when you need it. Now is the time to make a promise to yourself: You will always be kind to yourself. Always.

I would like to caution other answers to go easy on telling the poster what she is or is not doing wrong. She's asking how to get out, and how to know who to talk to and who to trust. You can't know exactly what the dynamic is from reading a few paragraphs of text, so please - be careful. Judgement and shaming are so, so dangerous to someone who is trying to navigate a situation like this.
posted by pazazygeek at 8:48 AM on November 9, 2011 [18 favorites]

Sometimes people act out of character when faced with extreme circumstances. It sounds like the OP married the dynamic she grew up with (lots of fighting) and it is escalating.

A relationship of 6 years crumbles "that fast" because it was likely always on a unhealthy trend, the OP finally has the courage and perspective to deal with it. There's a lot of pressure (from outside) to make it work sometimes. Sometimes you end up walking down the aisle with the hope marriage will change things. This happens.

Good for you, OP!

Yes talk to shelters and other advocates. You have some practical steps to take.

Your life is just beginning! Conratulations and warmest wishes.
posted by jbenben at 8:49 AM on November 9, 2011 [6 favorites]

I have not been in your shoes, but I have been in close enough ones. I was lucky that my mother had also been in an abusive and violent marriage (not to my father, but in a previous marriage) and had some idea of what the stakes were, so she supported me, both with some financial help and with some emotional support.

If you don't have money, as a practical first step, the first thing to do is get a separate bank account and direct your income there. You have a job; that money is yours as much as his, maybe moreso depending on Illinois law. My ex took control of my paycheck and handed me an allowance--a deeply embarrassing thing for me to admit--and the first step in my liberation was taking charge of my money again.

The day I walked out on my ex-husband was the day I stopped believing he wouldn't hit me. It sounds like you're there. Please don't wait for him to hit you before you get ready to leave.
posted by immlass at 8:51 AM on November 9, 2011 [3 favorites]

I have been in your shoes. I also thought no one would believe me, especially when I got to the part how my ex-wife said, the morning after the wedding, "Now we are married so I don't have to be nice to you anymore." And she was serious. She--literally--changed over night. My point, again, is that I thought no one would believe me.

But everyone believed me. I talked to as many different people as I could: friends; strangers; Internet friends. And I journalled a lot--I wrote a 46-page entry in my journal on the subject.

That is how I coped.

How did I "come out" about it? Well, my marriage was so bad that nothing scared me more than being married, so I actually didn't have any issue sharing my sob story with everyone, even those who wouldn't listen. Backing up a bit, though, I think chatting with random stragners on the Internet got the ball rolling, though.

If anyone judged me, then they weren't my friends anymore. I was most surprised that my generally-the-most-judgemental friends were the best sources to talk to!
posted by TinWhistle at 8:51 AM on November 9, 2011 [10 favorites]

Hi, I worked at a shelter for victims of domestic violence for eight years. This situation is EXACTLY what the hotline was for. The people at shelters like the one I worked for are trained to help you process this and to remind you, as many times as you need to hear it, that you deserve better. Even if you aren't trying to live at the shelter - which, if you have limited resources, would actually be a great start and a very clear message to your husband, as well as a way to get your foot in with all the county resources the shelter can provide access to - they will likely have support groups ranging from touchy-feely hugs and crying to legal workshops to survival stories. Shelters often have dedicated staff for working with the police, if you need a restraining order or police report, and advocates to help you navigate the courts. You will also be among people who BELIEVE YOUR STORY and WILL NOT BLAME YOU. This is important for you to hear, especially at the beginning, especially if you think your family will not understand.

The links Eyebrows McGee provided are a great place to start. If you don't know how to find more information or want any more information from me, feel free to memail me.

Also seconding vitabellosi's advice to frame this as a decision that is set in stone; if your family suspects that you are wavering, they might try to talk you out of it.

Being honest about your past behavior is healthy, but you are right that this situation is unacceptable. Good for you for writing this post. Best of luck to you.
posted by SeedStitch at 9:08 AM on November 9, 2011 [9 favorites]

Don't listen to teedee2000. While it's true that there are mutually abusive relationships, far more common are one-way abusive relationships in which the abuser convinces the victim that it's all the victim's fault, that if only the victim would just speak a little more kindly, or not get upset while the abuser is yelling and screaming and threatening at hir, or respond in the exactly perfect way, and love hir in exactly the right way, etc, then everything would be perfect, and couldn't zie just bother to try, doesn't zie love hir? Many abuse victims are convinced, at times, that they are really the abusive ones. A friend of mine was convinced by the man who abused her that she was being abusive by not "loving" him, which in this case meant catering to his every whim, breaking off all other friendships, staying extremely calm while he was screaming at her after breaking into her apartment to continue arguments that she wanted to take a break from, and so on. This is a classic abuse tactic. Obviously I don't know the details of the OP's situation, but I wonder if she herself is overstating her role as a "bad guy." I have seen it from friends who were themselves victims of abuse. At any rate, I agree with others that it is not helpful at this time to assign blame regardless of the situation, because it is clear that the OP needs to get out.

OP, listen to others who have suggested resources for you, there is tons of great info in this thread.

Good luck!

(sorry for the gender-neutral pronouns, I know they bother some people and I find them somewhat awkward to read/write myself, but I also don't like gendering abuse, as both abusers and victims can be of any gender identity)
posted by fireflies at 9:16 AM on November 9, 2011 [5 favorites]

I was in a terrible relationship for years, and it included the cycles where he would occasionally be nicer to me, just enough to make me stay and the cycle continue. I was always yelling, screaming, upset, anxious. I was constantly told by my ex it was my fault for not working hard enough at my marriage, in the same breath as I was told that I'd never mean anything to anyone. I genuinely thought it was my fault for not being nicer and not being 100% complacent.

I don't know what to tell you about your parents, but I was shocked at the fact that mine already realized I was in a terrible spot. The links to shelters are a great place to start. I ended up moving to a different city and starting over, which was hard, but I can also tell you that I am no longer suicidal, I no longer believe I'm not worthy of love, and I've never once regretted leaving that marriage.
posted by Zophi at 9:25 AM on November 9, 2011 [2 favorites]

I'm especially nervous to talk to my parents. I come from a household where my parents screamed at each other about every little thing, but it never got to the point I've described above. My mom always told me when we heard about someone we knew who was going through DV or had divorced an abusive spouse that she brought it on herself. My dad will rage about the $20k he spent on our wedding and liken me to Kim Kardashian. In fact, my brother grabbed my arm 10 years ago so hard it bruised and my parents did not punish him and told me I brought it on myself.

No question, when you get a divorce-- or make any major change like that-- some people will be judgmental. Especially those to whom your choice seems like an implied criticism of their own choices. This part, I think you just have to suck up. For myself, I deal with judgmental relatives by sharing as little as possible. You family may be different, but you will deal with them somehow.
posted by BibiRose at 9:25 AM on November 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Mod note: This is a response from an anonymous commenter.
I am in a similar relationship. My therapist has told me a few things that might be helpful for you to hear.

1. It's common for people who are being abused to think they are abusive themselves. As others in the thread have said, it's difficult, and sometimes downright impossible, to act like an angel when you're being abused. The difference is that you recognize when you do something harmful to your spouse, and you want to fix these things. Your husband doesn't extend the same courtesy to you. Case in point: after your argument was over, he was still blaming you ("I just get so frustrated when you do dumb things.") and refusing to do anything to fix your relationship or his actions (won't go to counseling).

2. If you think he is going to hit you, you have to get out. Your fear is telling you something. You're being sent a message from your rational brain that you are in danger.

3. It sounds like your childhood was a bit abusive as well. I would consider this, and think about how much you tell your family. You may even consider telling them that your husband left you, rather than telling them what happened. It's not even false: your husband, the person that you love, isn't there right now. He's been replaced by a verbally abusive man who scares you.

4. Please, please, try and figure out a way to get therapy. Your finances are a concern, of course, but you should be able to do something. My therapist is $14 for every hour-long session. That can be difficult, but it's doable.

5. Domestic violence shelters are well-equipped to help you deal with this, and may be able to help you find affordable therapy. I would strongly consider contacting a local shelter.

6. Get out of town. Starting your life over somewhere new is not ideal, but staying where you are is much worse. You will likely have to leave your job and everything behind. This is OK. You are strong and will survive. You have a support system, and although they are not in town, that is OK. Start talking, start telling people what is happening.

7. Don't blame yourself. This is not your fault. People who are being abused can be brainwashed into thinking that they deserve to be abused. No one deserves to be called a cunt. No one deserves to be called stupid. And no one should live in fear of being hit by the person who is supposed to be their number one supporter, their biggest fan, their rock-solid team member in life.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:03 AM on November 9, 2011 [19 favorites]

It sounds like your family is emotionally abusive as well. When you leave (when, not if), get some counseling for that. I would guess that you have many limiting beliefs that have arisen because of the way you were treated by both your family and your soon-to-be-ex.

And it doesn't matter that you hit him once or called him an asshole. His justifications for why he calls you names are what is abusive (that he says it's your fault) more than the name-calling itself.
posted by carolinaherrera at 10:10 AM on November 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

I tried to change everything about me that he didn't like. I made myself as small and invisible as I could. I was loving and thoughtful. The last year I did not nag or whine or ask anything from him. He would keep me awake for nights in a row, deprive me of a meal and then trap me in a room or in the car and start in on me. He would push and pick until finally I broke down and called him all sorts of terrible things. And then he could tell people what I did and what I said so that I was the abuser.

One time, I was trying to get away from him. The kids were already loaded up in the car (3 kids, smallest was an infant) and I had to go back upstairs to get the toddler's binky. I moved quietly, hoping he wouldn't notice me. Turns out he was upstairs and he started after me. I was so afraid that he was going to catch me and throw me down the stairs that I grabbed the nearest thing I could (turned out to be a small space heater) and threw it in his direction to buy time for me to get down the stairs. I made it out that day. He loves to tell people his version of that story, where I attacked him with a space heater for no reason.

I forgave myself for my part in it all. It was my fault. I never should have married him. And once I saw what he was like, I should have left. I was weak. I forgive myself for that. The only ones who tell me it was all my fault are him and his family. Most people know that it takes two to fight and only one to abuse. I was being abused.

We can all get pushed to our limits to say something we shouldn't. We all have regrets. We all make mistakes. We have to forgive ourselves and move on.

I was blessed. My parents had sensed something was not right. When I finally found the strength to tell them, there was a plan put in place in a matter of days. I got out. I left all the assets (my parents had put in $30,000 in the house but we left it), I took all the marital debt (he had charged $20,000 on my credit card in the last year), my parents paid the lawyer and when he said he wanted to pay child support on his own and not have anything in writing, I allowed that. I safely got me and my 3 children to another state, far away. My parents where able to buy us a small house and provide me with a car.

4 years later. I'm so poor. I share one tiny bathroom with 3 children (oldest is a teen!). Every time I get a little ahead he brings me to court. Never asks for anything specific, never comes out ahead, but it costs me money that I don't have. I haven't taken my kids on a vacation, ever.

I am so happy now and so are my children. Having him out of my day to day life feels like a miracle. I still have a way to go to recover from all I went through, but I am happy almost all the time.

It sounds like if you leave him and go to your parents you will be leaving one abusive situation and going to another. You don't have kids. You are free. Leave him, go to a shelter, stay with a friend, what ever you need to do. If you want to try and work it out, ask him to go stay with a friend for a few days, get some time apart.

If you are afraid then run. Run fast and don't look back. There is an entire world of happiness to be in. Forgive yourself. You made the best choices you could at the time with the information available. You deserve better than what you have given yourself. You deserve better than what he wants you to have.
posted by myselfasme at 10:36 AM on November 9, 2011 [33 favorites]

I didn't. Luckily he started sleeping with someone else and threw me out on the streets... wouldn't let me even get my underwear. I left town in the middle of the night and thus started a really hard year living in a town that was SO NOT me. Best thing that ever happened to me. I'm so happy now. I finally get what everyone meant when they said "you have to take care of you"

As for your bringing it on yourself- I admit I did- by having no boundaries or sense of self.
posted by misspony at 11:22 AM on November 9, 2011 [3 favorites]

Also- I know in my heart he would have killed me.
posted by misspony at 11:24 AM on November 9, 2011

When you tell others, start with one person who seems generally kind and patient and non-judgey (definitely not your parents). Sometimes it is easier with people you don't know very well.

It is so, so awesome that you've taken the first step.
posted by Omnomnom at 11:38 AM on November 9, 2011

In my experience, unless you're super good at hiding what has been going on, most people you know already suspect you are in an abusive relationship. This is not going to be a total shock and surprise to most people. Odds are you are doing stuff like bailing out on seeing other friends when they're in town because your husband will bitch, you have to sneak phone calls and e-mails because your husband will bitch, you kind of disappear at times because you're trying to appease your the stuff you probably mention about him even when you are trying to sound "normal" will raise red flags.

The people you do tell (not your family, they're abusive and nuts themselves) will be relieved that you are finally realizing what's going on and asking for help. It's not a shameful thing to sane people. What drives your friends nuts is knowing you're in a sinkhole but are still clinging to the guy and refusing to leave or do anything about it because you "luuuuv" him. Having out of town friends might actually be an advantage here because someone might provide you with a place to go that gets you the hell away from him.

I wish you all the luck in the world in getting out of this and finding a good therapist and divorce lawyer.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:39 AM on November 9, 2011

Do what you need to do to escape this dead end relationship. I was out with a group of women, and the subject of abusive spouses came up. Two of the women, whom I knew to be in long-term, happy marriages, said "that sounds just like my first husband"! When they told their stories, it was much as you described. One had stayed for years and had kids, the other had only been married a few years with no kids, but both were glad they finally left, and the one who stayed longer wished she had left sooner. Both now have stable, respectful second marriages to nice guys who they love, and who love them.

There is hope for you to get out and have a much better life. Do it, with the help you get from battered women's groups, therapy, friends who will be supportive. And look for patterns with the next guy you are attracted to, maybe with a therapist's help, to make sure your next choice is not the same. Others have done it, you can too.
posted by mermayd at 2:36 PM on November 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

It's possible that this marriage can be saved - but that's a discussion you and guy husband can have later when you meet in a neutral place like a therpist's office because he doesn't know where you live and hasn't seen you in a while.

The only people you need to tell are people at work who need to understand you may need extra security on your floor because of "a difficult situation."
posted by Lesser Shrew at 3:15 PM on November 9, 2011

Oy, I hear you. I've been in a similar situation, and it was brutal. Being in the relationship, that is. Leaving the relationship turned out to be thrilling, exciting, rewarding, joyful...and occasionally difficult and painful, but never as hopeless and soulsucking as continuing in that relationship would have been.

I'm in Chicagoland as well. If you need someone to talk to, please feel free to memail me. Best of luck!
posted by kitarra at 6:47 PM on November 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm not a married person, and I have only been in one long-term relationship, but I just want to share something that I try to think about sometimes. At any given point in your life, try to picture yourself in the same situation, except five years from now. What are you going to be feeling? How are you going to view the past five years?

Also, building on what jenfullmoon says, I bet you have at least one friend who has observed signs of your abuse and been waiting for you to come to them for help. Go to that friend - it's a good thing in this case that they're far away - and stay with them for a few days or a few weeks. Get some perspective on yourself, your future and the reality of your situation. Make them your confidant and listen to their take on your marriage.

Some of my most exciting, fulfilling moments in life have been at times when I've taken control of a situation that seemed insurmountable and have made my own decisions about how to respond to it. It's really hard and really scary, but anything you can do to give yourself power will make you feel so much better.

Best of luck to you, memail me if you want more awkward-but-heartfelt encouragement.
posted by bendy at 9:20 PM on November 9, 2011 [3 favorites]

I would strongly recommend reading this post "Why does she stay with that jerk?" on the Pervocracy (NSFW-ish blog with tasteful adds for sex toys)
posted by Blasdelb at 11:01 AM on November 10, 2011

memail me. please.
posted by assasinatdbeauty at 5:02 PM on November 14, 2011

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