This is Part 3 of my story of my marriage to an abuser. Warning: descriptions of violence and abuse may be triggering.
For part 1: Back to the Beginning
For part 2: For Better or for Worse
Over the month of January, we had some heart-to-heart talks. I told him that we were very isolated, and we needed more support around us. He needed a better job. So we decided to move about 8 hours north, to where I had grown up. We stayed with my parents for two months, while he found a job, and we found an apartment. 6 weeks after moving into our new apartment, I discovered I was pregnant again.
He was ecstatic again, but almost immediately withdrew from me. About a month after, he lost his job, and while he found one quickly, he was very moody. This time, it was worse. We began fighting over everything from what we did on the weekends, to the money I spent on groceries, to disciplining the kids. He also became very critical of our oldest, his stepdaughter, my daughter, and we fought over that too. She became his new target.
Abusers often target single parents for relationships. The step-children in these blended families can be greater victims of abuse than the intimate partners. The children sometimes become the new target. Abusing children is also a secondary form of abuse for the intimate partner. Threats towards the children can be used as a form of control.
We met with the pastor of the church he had decided we would attend. (Yes, he decided, even though he had said we would talk about it, and visit several, it was the only one we went to, before he said that was “home”). I shared some of my concerns, and he gave his “reasons” for his actions. The pastor told us to talk more, and that he was praying for us.
Most Christian pastors have no training to deal with domestic abuse. A lot of abused women leave the church because pastors make the mistake of encouraging those women to stay in the marriage, out of fear of them leaving, not wanting to encourage divorce. They also fail to recognize that no amount of “submission” will ever be enough for an abuser, and that abusers deceive very very well.
The verbal abuse escalated as my pregnancy continued. I found myself in tears more often than not after one of our fights. My nightmares returned, and I found myself longing for the days when I was a single parent.
I began dreading his return after his work day was done. I would meet him at the door, and gauge his mood. If he seemed in a good mood, happy to see me, I dawdled finishing supper, and encouraged the kids to interact with him. If he came home venting about his boss and his coworkers, I hurried, and put the kids to bed early.
I watched, and managed around his moods, like I did around my toddler daughter. I offered snacks, and encouraged naps, taking the children out of the home on the weekends if needed. I didn’t dare complain about the kids’ behaviour, as I didn’t want him having anything to do with disciplining them, fearing he would cross the line with them too.