I knew from the start that it was going to be tough, and that this was just the first step, but I had to keep going. I’d been tolerating the mental, physical and sexual abuse for four long years and it was no longer just my life that was at stake, it was also my son’s.
I grabbed the scooter keys and my hastily packed bag and ran out of the door. My son was already standing near my scooter with his school bag and essentials packed. We had stealthily slipped those out during my husband’s drunken stupor.
I handed the duplicate key to my father-in-law, who would use it to open the door later, and slipped out with my keys. All hell broke loose as soon as I locked the door from outside. He first started banging the door and then shouting obscenities and threats over my head from the balcony. The 8-year-old was terrified but we drove away…away to freedom from violence, abuse and oppression.
Related reading: We have an uncontrollable drunk in our family – my wife
I took the abuse
For the last four years my husband, under the daily influence of liquor, had been mistreating (a very mild term) me. Why he did it, was his psychological problem, and not my fault (something I understood much later). That I tolerated it was my fault. I kept taking the battering, the letting down, the shredding of my self-esteem and the marital rape. I lost my job and started taking home tuitions in an effort to preserve some independence and sanity.
In fact, I accepted it as my fate. I kept telling myself that he loved me, that he was insecure, that he was disturbed due to professional failures, that he would stop when he stopped drinking and that he would keep his promise this time. All excuses because I was afraid. Afraid to leave. He blamed me for provoking him and sometimes I even believed that it was my fault.
It is the average victim response cycle; bewilderment, then denial, acceptance, self-blame with hope thrown in, and the ‘honeymoon’ phase where everything gets fine, he apologises, makes love, shows love and all is hunky dory for a few days. And then it starts again.
My child’s life at stake
One day I got back from work to find my son back from school, lying on the sofa, still in his school uniform, hungry. My first thought was that he was unconscious and hurt. Thankfully he was only asleep from hunger and exhaustion. His father was sprawled on the floor, beer bottles strewn around. This was the final straw.
I had to run. Run for my life. Run for my child’s life. And I did, with barely some clothes and petty cash. Only my son’s schoolbooks, bag, and uniform. I went to my parents’ place. Needless to say, they were shocked. My brother cried like a baby first. Then he and my father wanted to set out to deal with my husband. I stopped them, because I believed that it was useless.
Now I wanted to concentrate on my life.
Related reading: When I decided to walk towards freedom after facing abuse
Rebuilding my life
I severed contact with him and continued working and started looking for alternatives. I went on to complete my Masters and kept looking for job options. After a month I had found a well paying job. Meanwhile I worked out a system whereby he wouldn’t be able to snatch my son from school or while commuting. I put a few numbers on speed dial and worked on my physical and mental health. I started walking to lose the weight I had gained. I started looking for my old friends and making new ones, prepped up my wardrobe and started going out (something I had stopped because I was ashamed).
I literally rediscovered myself with the help of family and well-meaning friends. Today I am happily remarried, to an Indian Army Officer. One should never give up hope.
The scars remain but I’m a warrior
My child is happy and secure again. He sees a better life and we have developed a bond that is strong and healthy. He has grown up to be secure and didn’t need any rehabilitation. I’m truly proud of him.
I still have signs and scars of the mental and physical torture on my mind and body, but I forgave everyone. I am responsible for my own well being. Nobody could have helped me if I had not decided to fight. In this case, the battle began after escaping. Running was only the first step. I am a proud warrior.