I’m starting a new series today featuring Vivianne, who blogs at Vivanne’s Vista and covers domestic violence and abuse for Examiner.com in the New Jersey area, that’s in addition to her regular work as an attorney. Vivianne’s choice of reporting topics comes as a result of her firsthand experience and the desire to help other women deal with abuse and find safety.
Vivianne’s divorce recently became final although she actually filed in 2006. She has two children who are now 11 and 5. She was married for 11 years and remembers there were red flags even shortly before her wedding. Here’s Vivianne:
He was very verbally abusive and it just progressed. It got worse throughout the years. I guess I was just very young and the first time he insulted me and called me names, I thought,
“OK, he won’t do that again.”
When he promised he would never do it again, I believed him. When it got worse and wouldn’t stop, I begged for counseling and each time it was the classic cycle of abuse – “I’m sorry. It won’t happen again.”
I kept thinking I had an obligation to work through it, to put my effort completely into resolving our issues and making our marriage work. When I finally did leave it was becoming somewhat violent, which is too late when you think about it.
One Friday my husband came home – he been on a 48-hour drinking binge. He proceeded to literally terrorize me for 48 hours. He pulled me out of bed and started screaming and carrying on, questioning me. I saw a completely different person than I’d seen before and it terrified me. It completely frightened me and it just went on and on and on. Nothing I could do would stop him.
He threatened to commit suicide and that really terrified me – that he would have so little regard for his life. I also knew it was ploy, it was a manipulation but it meant our situation was moving to a whole new dangerous level that I could no longer subject myself or my kids to. I was concerned for our safety.
My daughter heard all this – my son slept through it all, unbelievably. She came to me, crying and said,
“Mommy, I really want to leave here. I want to be able to sleep in peace. I don’t want to be scared all the time.”
That’s when it hit me that I was putting my marriage vows in front of my children’s safety and well-being. That could not be. I was a mother and I had to protect them. It couldn’t be just me fighting to maintain a marriage. It takes two people and if the other person absolutely refuses to fight to fix the marriage or to change the behavior that was causing so much damage, then I had to leave.
“I have to do what’s right for them. I have to put their interests and their safety ahead of my own and ahead of everything else.”
I became very focused after that. I spoke to my family and they knew what was going on. My sister cautioned me that suicide can equal homicide.
If he has so little regard for his own life, who’s to say he has any regard for my life?
I had great support from my family, they helped me find a place and within six weeks we were gone.
The Divorce Coach Says
Vivianne’s story brought tears to my eyes when I interviewed her and again now, writing this. I can visualize this in a movie and it breaks my heart that acts of domestic violence happen every 18 seconds in the U.S. Thankfully, Vivianne had the courage and the strength to flee to safety. Coming to terms with breaking her wedding vows however, has been difficult and tomorrow, Vivianne shares what this means to her as a practicing Catholic.
One in four couples in the U.S. experience at least one act of domestic violence. Have you or Did you? Did your spouse change or did you leave? What made you finally decide to leave?
Photo Credit: Mrsraggle at Flickr