It started slowly. He would tell me my friends dont like me. He was moody. Hed make fun of me and tell me to lighten up if I acted hurt. Then one day he threw a coffee table on me. I dont know why. He never apologized. All I saw or read of domestic violence told me that they always apologize. The fact he didnt made me feel like it was my fault. The physical abuse was severe and frequent. But never my face. He was too smart to leave his mark where others might see.

Then he began gaslighting me if I mentioned abusive events saying, "what are you talking about?" I felt like I was crazy. He would flirt with other girls in front of me. Cheat on me and lie about it when presented with proof. My self esteem was in the toilet. I felt like even if he cheated on me, at least I was the one he really loved. I was a smart girl and acted so beneath myself. I still feel shame about that.

The only thing I am thankful for (aside from our 2 beautiful children) is the fact that he never raped me. One time after hitting me he bent me over a chair and tried to pull my pants down. I prayed harder than I had ever prayed before not to let him rape me....that is something I know I wouldnt have been strong enough to survive. And inexplicably he stopped and said "What am I thinking? Ew. Why would I try and f**k you?" I believe there is a God who protected me that night.

The end came when I was 9 months pregnant with my second child. I was bathing my eldest who was 20 months at the time. He came home from work angry. I didnt hear him over the running water. He smacked me in the face with a dirty diaper. I fell backwards and let go of my daughter in the tub. I scrambled back to her and she was okay, but I was done. I immediately knew that was my deal breaker. I no longer loved him.

I left to my parents. Saw a psychologist. Set about the task of being a single mom of two. It was/is hard work. But a life as a single parent alone without abuse is far easier than a life with an abusive partner. Every day I remember I am free. I can wear, say, think, do, like and feel what I want. I smile harder now. I feel healthier physically and emotionally. I have more energy because Im not using it all to simply survive anymore.

A life alone is freedom. A life alone ia full of the love you regain of yourself.