Stephanie wasted no time marrying the guy she had briefly dated in high school. She was 18 years old and had a little boy when he came back into her life. He’d always had a crabby sort of personality and at the time they got back together he had just completed Marine Corp training. That training can have different effects on anyone that goes through it and for him, it seemed to make him more volatile. They began dating again in September and were married in January. Looking back now, Stephanie sees that the rapid pace their relationship transpired at was the start of their problems. Their relationship actually began with him questioning her about talking to his best friend about him. She simply wondered how he was, but he was already on the defensive. She knew she wanted to be with him and with his career in the military, it was just easier to get married so that they could be together. After marrying, Stephanie stayed in Minnesota for her son to be near his biological father and her new husband was stationed in California.
Stephanie thought everything was fine in their marriage, every other month they would visit each other for a few weeks at a time. The abuse began with comments like, “Why would you ruin your body by having a child?” Stephanie had always preferred very honest and open conversation, so she took his questioning and comments as just being extremely open with her. Her husband became very possessive of her time, even when they were not together. He expected her to be waiting on Skype to chat with him whenever he wanted. If she wasn’t, he would brainwash her to think she was doing something wrong and cut her off as her punishment. The punishments escalated from there.
Stephanie had always thought that in marriage you just stick around, you don’t air your dirty laundry, and you never bad mouth your spouse to anyone.
Because of that belief system she found herself trapped in her own marriage.
Today, Stephanie is no longer married to her abuser. Today she describes herself as less fearful and happily married to the “nicest man ever.”
Letting go of the future she had imagined with her ex-husband was harder than Stephanie anticipated. But she knew once she left that she was done. The recovery was hard but she never turned back. She cherishes her normal life now, she embraces what she calls the “boring.” Stephanie said, “Nothing is holding me back now. I have my entire future in front of me.”
Stephanie hopes that her story will touch even just one person. She’s had friends who have left abusive relationships because of her story. Stephanie said, “I understood their fear.” She went on to say, “I am an ‘act of purpose’ love language person. I give them the verbal that people need, but I also give the ‘what can I do to make this easier on them.’”
Stephanie credits her now husband and her mother-in-law for being the catalyst for her change. Her mother-in-law had also been in an abusive relationship. She reached out to Stephanie and encouraged her. Stephanie says her husband didn’t try to be a “prince on a white horse,” instead he simply understood where she was and just let her be there.
Stephanie says, “I am Stephanie first. I’m a victim and survivor way later in life. My hats as a mother and wife always come first. I decided this year to really pull out the other hats and really share my story. This was the first year I forgot about my anniversary. It never goes away. You wear the scars of horrible places in life.” She went on to say, “I’m a mantra person. I got a necklace right after leaving that has a ribbon on it, with a purple stone and the back says ‘survivor.’”
In the words of Stephanie’s favorite song, “So stand in the rain, stand your ground. Stand up when it’s all crashing down. You stand through the pain. You won’t drown. And one day, what’s lost can be found. You stand in the rain.”