Anonymous, 69. 

I was in my 40s and 50s during the abusive time.  I had the typical childhood thing, non-approval parent, harsh discipline, i.e. locking in garage at night as punishment, etc.  Firsthusband was mildly abusive in that he constantly criticized anything I did and the way I looked.  He slapped me once.  We divorced when he fell in love with another woman.

Second husband was a smooth talker, making me feel like he couldn't live without me.  It took about a year before the first slap.  The usual apology etc.  I find it amazing that I went from being a strong self sufficient woman to a totally fearful coward in a few years.  But I learned through counselingthat it works that way.  If you have spent your life never being good enough for the people you loved, you have a poor feeling of self worth.  The second husband started putting down everything I did and said.  More slaps, plates of food thrown, even a storm door kicked in and then used to hit me over the head!  I still didn't leave since by then I was in my 50s and felt too afraid to leave.  He constantly said he would kill me and whoever I went to.  Yet he didn't want me there either.  He kept telling me how ugly and stupid I was.  There were slaps, pushes and strangle neck holds while pushed against walls and furniture.  Finally he got drunk, which he did often, but also used drugs.  This night he cornered me in the bathroom and started hitting me in the  face. He left the room, I thought it was over, but no he came back in and started again.  I remember the pain, the stars I saw and the total fear that I was going to die that night.  He then grabbed me and threw me out the door, I ran to the back of the yard and hid behind a shed.  He grabbed a gun and started out back door.  The neighbor saw him and screamed and he went back into the house.  I waited awhile, ran  down the street and got a ride to a friend.  She gave me a place to spend the night.  The next morning I called my husband.  He didn't remember a thing!  He came to her house and looked at me in shock.  I had ablack  eye, broken nose,  my face was a mess.  Against my friends adviceI went home with him.  I know its hard to understand, but when you are so  scared,  and you want to believe that it won't happen again. I had loved this man  with all my heart, and he had said I meant the world to him.  Howcould this happen?  I went to work each day (after I healed) and came home at night never sure what would happen.   If he was high he would ignore me and pass out.  If he needed drugs he was mean and cruel.  I would break outin a cold sweat each night on the way home.  He woke me one evening with a slap to tell me I bought the wrong color pain pills.  Going from a sound sleep to pain from a slap is not the way to get up.  The last two months before I left he strangled me daily, just to the point of  dizziness.  Finally one evening he said to get out of his sight or he would kill me.  I hid in the one bedroom for hours.  Finally he went to bed.  I knew that night that if I didn't leave he would kill me!  I feel it was God answering my years of prayers for help.  I ran away at 11:30 pm.  to a family member who wasn't happy to be woken up that late. I was terrified, I parked the car blocks away from their home.  He tracked me down the next day by phone, but didn't make a scene.  I couldn't go to work as I had no clothes, but my boss had suspected what was going on and allowed me to take whatever time I needed.  I got an apartmenta month later by cashing in my life insurance.  I took another person to the home to get my clothes,   He told his family that I had taken his money but there wasnone.  He hadn't worked for almost a year and was writing bad checks and selling furniture and tools, etc. for drugs.  He didn't know where I lived but I didn't feel safe for almost a year.  I went to Access York group night and it helped.  I learned that it happens slowly and that by the time it gets physical I had been conditioned to think that I was unworthy of better treatment.  That somehow I deserved what he was doing, it was my fault.  Having the childhood I did was the start of my PTSD, and this husband was the end.  I was diagnosed several years ago.   Eventually I was able to get my own small home, a new job and a safe and peaceful life.  Then out the blue I met my third husband! 

To all ladies suffering like I did:  First, accept help and get out.  I found out he was a coward when other people knew.  Second, get psychological help.  You need it to break the lifetime chain of feeling unworthy.  And third, once you feel safe and at peace you will find the life you were meant to live.  I have been married four years now to a normal, kind man who was brought up by loving parents and learned how to respect and treat a woman. We have a wonderful, loving marriage.  Yes, I still have bouts of PTSDbut he wrapshis arms around me until it passes.  And Four, Turn to God.  I prayed for years, but only when I totally released the problem tohim (the night before I left) did I stop crying and SEE and accept the help he had given me years before.  God got me through this and I believe God rewarded those years of suffering with my current husband.  You are never too old to leave, just accept the help being given.  Prayers for all who are going through what I did.  You can be free.