powerful

‘He was always disappearing. I created a picture-perfect life for others to gawk at and admire. I didn’t want to be alone.’: Single mom says leaving her abuser was the ‘hardest decision of my life’

“The changes in his behavior were subtle. The flirting and flattery mutated into backhanded compliments and criticisms. If I ever questioned his behavior or cruelty, he would dismiss my concerns. ‘I was just joking.’ ‘You shouldn’t be so sensitive.’ ‘Can’t you take a joke?’ I spent all my energy trying to impress him.”

‘He had the Stanford medical degree, not me. I trusted him. Aren’t we supposed to believe the doctor? I was home alone when I got the call.’: Woman receives unexpected cancer diagnosis after colon surgery fallout

“I decided that day I was going to take my life. I knew I couldn’t survive chemotherapy and breast cancer alone, and I was too prideful to really ask for help. I decided killing myself would do my family and friends a favor. I was a liability, not an asset. I had gone from being a thriving mother, model and athlete to a sickly woman needing constant care. My life had crumbled.”

‘I married a wealthy man at the age of 19. He was already divorced and 15 years older. I ran away and broke all ties with my parents. I was vulnerable.’

“I remember someone from another relationship telling me, ‘You should be happy, at least I am taking off one major thing in your to-do list by marrying you!’ I made the decision that my son and I will never meet him again. People often remind me I am a single mother. I tell them, ‘I was a single mother even when I was married.’”

‘I could sense a different tone in his voice. ‘Are you ok?,’ I asked. ‘It’s complicated.’ Panicked, I said, ‘We aren’t okay?’ He replied, ‘I don’t want to talk anymore.’ And the conversation ended.’

“I was so excited for my husband to get home from work that night. I decided to give him a call to see how far out he was. It was a conversation that would completely change my life. I couldn’t believe this was happening. I had no idea why it was happening.”

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