Love, Family

Can A Formerly Abusive Husband Change?

upset woman covering face

I've been married for four years and during that time, there have been three physical fights where my husband has hurt me. I've stayed with him because he's been "my person" for seven years. The person who knows everything about me... and why I do the things I do or like the things I do. He's the father of my child, and if I left I don't want my son growing up knowing he has an abusive father. Plus, when I hurt my neck really bad—and was on pain killers/muscle relaxers and going to physical therapy—he took care of me and the house so I could recover. But then the third incident happened six weeks ago, and I finally saw everything in black and white.

I finally knew all of his excuses were to protect his ego since accepting that he's a wife beater would damage his own boy scout image of himself. Most of the time he is a nice and gentle person, so it has been disorienting. I went to a counselor who told me none of it is my fault (but I thought it was and still question to this day whether it is) and that my husband is physically, verbally and emotionally abusive. I told my family but my mother acts like it's not important that my husband has hit me in the face or grabbed me by the neck forcing me onto the ground. She thinks I should work on keeping my marriage. Um, what? The Frisky: Why Did She Have To Marry Him?

Then last week, my mother ended up in the ER, and my husband showed up unasked and has been "taking care of me" through this. I'm starting to fall into the false sense of security again. I'm starting to think maybe my decision to end it is wrong and I should work it out. He's telling me he loves me—that he's in counseling and we can make this work. My mother is having major surgery next week. Her recovery will be awful and I don't feel strong enough to hold my ground right now with him. I don't know what to do. I'd love to kick him out but I can't afford the house myself even with child support. I feel like I'm in a fun house where everything is distorted when I look at it but in the back of my mind this voice keeps reminding me how I truly feel. I am in counseling still... but how do I get through this? — Battered and Tired Wife

First of all, you are not alone in what you're going through, and by writing in I know you've made other women in your position feel less alone. Second, you've done nothing to deserve being hit. Nothing. This isn't your fault. Your husband has demons that have nothing to do with you that he hasn't found the strength within himself to fight. You have to be stronger than that. You can't let him be your demon, and in turn your son's demon. You have to tap into your strength and fight with all your might for a life free of abuse and fear. You have to believe that you and your son deserve that—even if it means moving to a smaller home or leaning on the support of strangers who care enough to help. The Frisky: Depressed Husband Is Emotionally Abusive

And there are so many people and organizations who care and want to help you and others like you. Safe Horizon is one such organization and on their website they have numerous hotlines listed that will connect you to people in your own area who can assist you in planning your getaway, finding shelter, and providing a host of other services that will help you get and stay on your feet. In addition, the National Domestic Violence Hotline is (800) 799 – SAFE and if you call the number, you will be connected to someone who can help.

There are also many online communities, like this one, where you can connect with other women who are going through the same thing you're going through, as well as women who have successfully left abusive relationships and marriages. You are not alone. Even if you aren't getting support from your family, there are SO MANY people out there who are willing and able to give you the support you need. The numbers and websites I've listed are just a small sampling, but a good place to get started.

When you start feeling like you're better off staying with your husband and it's nice having someone "take care of you," remember the three times he didn't take such good care of you and ask yourself if you want to raise your son in an environment where his mother lives in constant fear of being hit again. The next time could be so much worse. The next time it could be your son. And even if it isn't—even if your son is spared—he'd still be growing up thinking it's normal for husbands to hit their wives. Is that a lesson you want to pass along to him? Break the cycle. Get help. It's out there for you. The Frisky: How To Avoid Dating An Abusive Freak

Written by Wendy Atterberry for The Frisky.