Women’s Stories

A Safe Place

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An important part of the healing process is to share our stories. Through this sharing or writing about how you were able to cope and get stronger, you may also help other women who are being abused. If you are a survivor of abuse and wish to share your story, we would be pleased to hear from you. Send us your story using the form provided below.

If you are being abused call our crisis line 780-464-7233 for counseling. We are unable to provide counseling via e-mail.

REAL Stories From REAL Women

I came to Canada young; I met my husband here and here we married and had our children. A few years after that we sponsored my brother in law, who turned out to be a bully. He had an issue with women, as I understood, and he was mainly emotionally abusive towards me. Sometimes people underestimate the damage that emotional abuse can do to you. Believe me it is very destructive. No matter what I did he was very critical, sometimes openly so and sometimes making veiled, hurtful comments. It was a difficult time for me and for my husband. We sponsored him thinking that we were helping him and it turned out a nightmare for us. My brother in law was, as abusers often are, extremely manipulative; he was able to present a very distorted picture of what was taking place, so in his family’s perspective he was the one victimized by us, “his mean sister in law and his uncaring brother.”

It took us years to figure out the dynamics of abuse and how to deal with abusive, toxic people. At some point, I guess, I realized that I could not change anybody but myself and I started focusing on doing what I needed to do to protect myself and my children, and encouraging my husband to do what he needed to do to protect himself. Focusing on my own well being helped me immensely. I continued my journey, returned to school and got the education I yearned for and applied it to my personal life. I set limits and prepare myself to defend them when under assault by some very intrusive people, in my case family. I also learned to love myself and to put myself first. Nobody can love you and you cannot love anybody, if you do not love yourself first.

All this time, the answer was within me, you see, but due to the craziness toxicity had created for me, and my concern with others loving me, I had lost my way. I was, without being aware of this, more focused on these outsiders and their craziness than on myself. So, I became self-centered, not selfish but concerned, respectful and loving with myself.

Many years have passed since all that. I want you to know that we have contact only with some family members from my husband’s side and that we still maintain strong boundaries with others. It is the healthy thing to do and it is no longer difficult for us to do. We do it together and we do it consciously. You see, it is sometimes difficult to accept that some people are toxic and will remain toxic for the rest of your life. We all want to believe in the good nature of people and on the possibility of people changing for the better. Sometimes, however, that doesn’t happen. Still, you are the number one person in your own life and accepting toxic relationships means too put yourself second and allowing others to hurt you. Importantly, it also means that your children may accept this way of living life too -this is how toxic patterns are passed from one generation to the next. You are not keeping healthy relationships with other just for yourself, you do it for those you care too.

We are a happy family. It was a long journey for my husband and me; we walked it together. We try to keep modeling healthy living to our grown children: nobody has the right to disrespect you or abuse you; you do not have to accept it; respectful relationships are particularly crucial when we talk about family. Our children learnt this; they are essentially “good people”, who respect themselves and others and are happy with who they are. We are proud to be part of it.

I wish you all who read this the best during this holiday season. I also wish that many challenges confront you so you can continue to grow beautiful and healthy this coming year.

A social worker and a warrior against toxicity in families, Edmonton.

I didn’t know where else to go… There was nowhere to look.

Other programs and services couldn’t (or wouldn’t) help me and my 6 week old baby.

I couldn’t keep living with him…we were so unhappy and he did nothing but emotionally abuse me. I didn’t even know it at the time!

But A Safe Place helped me realize that both, me and my daughter, deserve a better future than that. That we deserve a life without threats, swearing, or fighting. They were there for me when I thought no one was going to catch me.

I am a survivor of domestic abuse…and I am proud to say it.

I left my spouse a year ago and never went back. I have never spoken to him since I left. I don’t miss him at all. I moved to another province last year with may baby and got all my paperwork in order. Now, I have full custody of my child.

He abuse me throughout my pregnancy and became worse after the baby was born. He was a chauvinist man, who vowed to make my life miserable. He was an alcoholic and smoked like a chimney. I remember words that he constantly used: “I will tear you up and build you up the way I want you to be, wait until the baby is born”. I just kept quiet and never forgot those words.

Most of my abuse was emotional and financial. He physically abused me too, but not that much, although he tried numerous times to hit me by raising his hand (remember I was pregnant). He never wanted me to go to school, he never wanted anyone to see me, in fact I never knew his friends. He was very controlling. He didn’t allow me to have a baby shower for my child; I had to get an approval from him on what I wore, the kind of hairstyles I had on, the shoes I wore, and what I bought. He was demanding, especially for my money, even though he worked full time.

After living 9 month with him, I had enough and planned my escape. I planned to leave him 2 months before I gave birth. For those 2 months, I played along with him, being a loving wife, trying to be good to him, but also seeking advise from family and friends on how to escape. A month after my child was born, I left him. A good friend of mine helped me to pack all my belongings and took them to her house. I have nowhere to go so I went to on of the women’s shelter.

Now, I am a happy single mother. I am raising my beautiful child. I am also studying to get my bachelor degree, I hope to finish it soon. I met a man who doesn’t drink or smoke, he is a good man.

My advice, to all of you, women who have been abused or are still being abused, is RUN while you still can. Abusers never change. Save yourself and your children, you deserve to live free of abuse. You deserve a better and happy life, like me. I don’t miss him at all, I deleted him from my memory and my heart; he didn’t deserve a second chance. If you have been hurt and want to cry …let it out, it will make you feel so mush better, think positive, move on, don’t dwell in the past.

Have a good day everyone!

I am a weeping willow.

The main part of me is strong and sturdy but flexible. The rest of me is soft, flowing and emotional. I can flow with the breeze but only so far before I snap. I can give shelter but also need some care. If you ignore me, I will still flourish but much prefer you to sit with me.

I never thought I was being abused by my husband for quite a while. The abuse was not physical. I had been raised in a physically abusive background and the beatings were what I knew as abuse. But as time went on, the name calling, control, sexual abuse, and financial abuse (which I’d never heard of before) all got worse and worse.

I have been hospitalized twice for attempted suicide and twice for breakdowns. I knew I was in trouble by then but didn’t know what to do or where to go. Not a lot of people believed the severity because, as you may know, there are no bruises or broken bones.

At one point I even tried to provoke my husband to hit me just so someone –anyone – would believe me. But the most physical he ever got with me was shoving or restraining me by pinning me down. This was not hard for him as I am only 5’4 and weighed just over 100 lbs. while he was 6’2 and nearly 300 lbs. I did call the Police 4 times over 19 years. All 4 times he was arrested, charged, and pled guilty. All 4 times, we separated for as long as a year.

The problem was that I always went back. I guess I wasn’t ready yet. I didn’t want to put up with the abuse anymore but I really missed the man I had fallen in love with. Plus, there were finances to worry about, taxes, insurance, etc. I’ve finally left again and although I am not quite ready for the next step (divorcing him) I am ready to start a new life without him. At least so far I have been gone for 3 weeks, two of which are out of the province. He hasn’t known where I am for the past 2 weeks and hasn’t been able to contact me either.

I miss my home and the village where I came from and sometimes I still really miss my husband. What I do not miss is all the abuse.

I will find out who I am again, the person I was before I met my husband, but I doubt we will ever reconcile. I had seen how my children grew up living with this. One of my children has turned out just as abusive as the father, with the exception that is abusing me physically. So not only have I left an abusive husband but an abusive child as well.

If I had one piece of advice to give, it would be this: think of how your children are learning; they are innocent and do not deserve a life filled with any kind of abuse, even if they are not abused directly, they still suffer and learn.

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Any information you send to us will be confidential and we will not identify who you are (i.e. name, address, and e-mail). In your story, do not use real names. We reserve the right to publish, not to publish, or to publish only part of your story; we also may edit or remove stories from our website at our discretion.