She saw the signs, but they were too easy to ignore

Hard facts and research data often cannot replace a true account of what someone has been through personally. We have asked those who have experienced abuse situations to come forward, anonymously, and share their story with us. Through the weeks, we have been focusing on a series of these personal accounts. This story is about a young woman who ignored the red flags early on and was lucky to get her son and herself away from an abusive husband.

Personal Story of Abuse

“We met at work but we didn’t work together. He was a sales representative for a wholesale tire company who was funny, kind, attractive, and outgoing. I was immediately drawn to him.

We took our time getting to know one another before officially becoming an item. His family liked me and I them. Our relationship seemed to flow naturally, however, there were a few red flags that concerned me but he always had an excuse. For instance, after dating for at least six months, there was an ice storm and I was visiting his apartment. We lived about an hour from one another so driving home in bad weather wasn’t something I wanted to attempt. But, he didn’t want me there and was emphatic about me leaving. It angered me and driving home was stressful but I overlooked it.

To be honest, I overlooked a lot of his behavior and we ended up getting married. At first, it was great! We had a lot of the same dreams and goals for the future but then he started withdrawing from me.

His explanations to me were due to stress with his job. Since he traveled, he was exhausted by the time he came home and retreated to the basement. I wouldn’t think twice about it and would hang out with my friends, go for a walk, do some grocery shopping but then, it progressed to his use of pornography as an outlet.

His personality changed as well and he would have black-out rages. I didn’t understand and sought professional help for myself. At one point, I suggested he see a therapist, which he did but after two sessions informed me that there wasn’t anything wrong with him and stomped off.

I wanted desperately to save our marriage and tolerated his unhealthy behavior for years. But, after having our son, I spoke up letting him know I was no longer going to remain in a marriage that was one-sided.

He promised to change and there were moments when I believed him. But then, something happened and he became somebody I didn’t know.

His use of pornography became an everyday thing and it even escalated to him frequenting strip clubs as well as whore houses. I couldn’t tolerate it anymore and feared for my well-being. At one point, he threatened suicide. We had guns in the house and I worried that he would end his life so I made an appointment with a lawyer to get professional advice.

After my visit with the lawyer, I knew it was time to create an exit plan. He wasn’t going to allow me to just walk out the door with our son, who was three years old.

It was as if he knew I was planning to leave because all of a sudden, the abusive behavior escalated from verbally putting me down to physically putting his hands on me. After telling him that I spoke with a lawyer, he became enraged and shoved me against the wall hitting my head. He walked out the garage door and I sat there in shock.

The doorbell rang and I slowly made my way to the door. On the other side was my mom who later told me that she had this gut feeling something was wrong and felt the need to stop by. I’m grateful she did because she may have saved not only my life but her grandson’s too.

Our divorce was messy as was the child custody case. He didn’t make it easy for me but I refused to allow him to win. I deserved better and so did our son.

I’m proud to say that I’m now happily married to an amazing man who loves, cherishes, and respects me. We met in 2000 and not only has he been my rock but an incredible role model to my son who is now 22 years old.

It’s not easy to walk away from an abusive relationship and if you aren’t healed from that experience, you can find yourself in a cycle of abuse like I did. To be honest, I still deal with triggers but I’m living my life to the fullest with a man who never gave up on me.”

Small Signs Will Grow

Ignoring the signs early on is one of the biggest mistakes that people make before getting serious with someone who ends up being abusive to them. Behavior that isn’t outrageous and may seem small in the grand scheme of things is often ignored as many do not wish to make a mountain out of a molehill. However, it is simply that someone may not realize that those signs are not exceptions but the tip of the iceberg. When starting out, a partner tries to be understanding and accommodating to the person they care for and allow things to slide that maybe they shouldn’t.

Addiction can make a person behave like someone else, and a non-abusive person can become abusive while someone who is already abusive will become much worse. Addiction does not have to be in relation to substance abuse, it can be an addiction to anything—in this case pornography. People can become addicted to many things, anything that can give them the mental or emotional escape they are seeking. The person becomes dependent on whatever it is and they have trouble letting this go. The escape becomes their world and actual reality looks and feels foreign to them, at best, and irritating or traumatic at worst. If you notice someone is easily addicted to things, be aware. Pay attention to how they deal with this. Do they notice and try to remedy their behavior on their own? Or do they try to make more and more excuses to continue what they are doing despite it being increasingly unhealthy? In the latter case, this can lead the way to an abusive situation and you may need to step away from the person until they recognize their problems and are in a position to listen and/or get help.

When overcoming an abusive situation, it may be difficult to think clearly and come up with a solution to remedy the abuse, while trying to implement it may feel almost impossible. However, given the right tools and the will power to create change, it most certainly is possible, even more so– it is probable. Many may feel overwhelmed and may not know where to start, but it is important to start somewhere.

Please continue to check in with us each week for a new post about abusive behavior and how it can affect your life and the lives of those around you. There is always that first action to helping someone you care about. Let this be it!

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Authors' Bios

Speaker, mentor and author Cherie Faus-Smith is a beacon for victims of domestic abuse. She shines a light on survivors and illuminates a path of prevention toward healthy relationships with an end goal of helping them recognize the signs of abuse.

With over three decades of real-life experiences, Cherie shares that there is hope after abuse. Her open heart has a way of bringing out the best in others.

Cherie’s book “The Cycle Ended: Saying Goodbye to Domestic Abuse” details the struggles in her past abusive relationships and how she found love after breaking the cycle of choosing unhealthy relationships.


Anna Czarska is a writer and actor who has 15+ years of experience dealing with various situations of abuse. She has pursued business ventures and creative pursuits as well as spending time to study psychology in both formal and personal education. For more information visit her LinkedIn profile

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