As a Catholic, Vivianne was firmly committed to her marriage even though she was being emotionally abused. After a single episode lasting 48 hours made Vivianne realize that safety is more important than wedding vows, she left her marriage. Now, she wants to use her experience to change perceptions about domestic abuse. Here’s Vivianne:
Divorce is such an isolating event and especially so when the marriage was an abusive one. You feel alone. I hope women reach out and try to get the support they need because it’s extremely important and it helps a great deal. Without the support it’s easy to fall into severe depression or not get out when you should.
No one ever really knows what’s going on inside a marriage. You can look from the outside and think everything’s prefect or make all these assumptions but it’s very difficult to know what’s really going on behind the doors.
I isolated myself from a lot of my family members and it’s just now I’m trying to reach out again. I didn’t want anyone to see the pain I was going through. It was shameful to a certain extent, even though I didn’t feel as if it was my fault.
It is because divorce is so isolating I really want to get involved in causes with women, especially women who have been emotionally abused. It doesn’t matter where you’re from or who you are, you can fall victim to it and women try to hide it. They don’t want the world to know what’s going on.
I have a very strong family and I was raised in a very loving home. I can’t say that I had any self-esteem issues that would have lead me to married my ex. I did become the stereotypical battered wife; I was very depressed, I became very hard on myself and my self-esteem did suffer through the marriage. But the reasons for getting into the relationship had nothing to do with that.
I think people have a perception that it’s a certain type of person who is caught in that type of relationship. That’s just not true. I’ve been through law school, I am an attorney, I’ve had my own solo practice, I go to court and I represent other clients. I can be considered by outward appearances, a very strong person but I still became victim to emotional abuse.
Even my own divorce attorney had an assumption and made statements to me that were unbelievable. Maybe there’s not enough information out there? I know emotional abuse is recognized but not as much as physical abuse. It’s not well advertised, maybe because we hide it.
The harassment my ex put me through affected me to such an extent that I went to court for a restraining order but I was afraid I wouldn’t have enough proof. I didn’t have a bruise on my face, the scars I had were internal and emotional.
There are certain perceptions in the judicial system that are difficult for women like me and I want to change that. I want to find a charity or an agency that I can work with to bring light to emotional abuse.
Vivianne said she hid her abuse from friends and family in part because she was ashamed. If you’re reading this and considering divorce, for whatever reason, I want to stress what Swati of The Single Mother’s Chronicles wrote – “.. somebody, someplace will judge you. Brush it off with all the useless commentary on what you could and should have done differently.” And remember, there are only two people who truly know what your marriage is/was like.
I have no doubt that Vivianne will find the right organization to work with – I wouldn’t be surprised if she has them knocking on her door. I know she will be a voice of reason and an agent of change and she will go on to influence many women (and men) facing emotional abuse. By sharing her story here, she’s walking her talk and I know this is just the beginning for her.
I want to thank Vivianne for opening up about her marriage and her life since her divorce. You follow Vivianne at her blog at Vivianne’s Vista, in her reports on domestic violence and abuse for Examiner.com in the New Jersey area and on Twitter @ViviannesVista.
My next series is about April (@aprilabtbalance) who blogs at It’s All About Balance. April has traveled a long way both physically and personally, leaving her drug-addicted husband, moving cross country, completing college and building a new life for her two daughters. In the coming days, April will be sharing her story about this and why she’s decided not to date. Come back and visit!
Photo Credit: adria.richards at Flickr