By Guest Blogger Henriette Eiby Christensen
Six years ago, I came out of a 12-year verbally abusive relationship not knowing what had happened.
First relief, then not understanding why I felt so bad, and kept feeling like the world would be a better place without me in it.
Then ANGER. No way was I going to let him continue to have that kind of power over me – I had to understand everything, not only for myself, but also for my three children. And so I started writing and observing.
My ex-husband is a very handsome and smart man. I had always been more passive, a pleaser. I was willing to move and turn every single pebble of my body and soul to accommodate his needs. Why I believe I took the abuse so freely, was because that there was an element of truth to every abusive thing he said about me or others, so I was kept in a state of constant confusion and soul searching. He never hit me. He never came home drunk. But he killed me a thousand times with his mouth. This man was my husband. We shared a bank account.
I did everything wrong– the way I kept our house wasn’t how he liked it. I had too much “stuff.” I was too “laid-back.” He used “positive” critique to belittle me. He would cover his verbal abuse up in “I’m only being honest.” He would call me names, and so many more horrific things I care not recall. My friends and family slowly evaporated from our life.
Here is the part which is very hard to explain… why I stayed. I understand that this is sometimes difficult to comprehend from an outsider looking in. You see, I was a stay-at-home mom in Denmark and very isolated. In Denmark, being a stay-at-home mom is frowned upon. Having a job is much more valued. So I was alone. Alone in my beliefs that my children were much more important than any job could possibly be. I felt that I didn’t have children to have other people take care of them. I wanted to be the one to raise them.
An easy target you might say. Yes. I no longer had a network. I no longer had an income. I had no self esteem or self worth. No special skills which might help me create an income. My education was outdated. And I was stuck. Emotionally and financially stuck.
One day, he decided that we needed a second income, so he pushed me to work. I promptly got a job as a substitute teacher while my youngest was in kindergarten. A couple of years later, I went back to school to get a teaching degree (his idea). Well, guess what? I started socializing. I discovered I was smart. My classmates would call me for help with homework, and they valued my opinion. As I said – working was HIS idea, and it was he who pushed me into getting a degree so I could earn more money for our family. But every time I had an exam, he would threaten me with divorce, belittle me, and say phrases like: “You’re really going to let your studying come before the wellbeing of this family and our children?” Well, the more of those he came up with, the harder I studied, and along the way my education became my life-raft. It represented financial freedom and social connection. And – most importantly – it represented being valued for who I am as a human being. It saved my life.
We divorced six months before I finished school.
I have written five books on bullying in relationships in Danish. A few months ago I released my first book in English: 110 Ways to Detect a Bad Relationship and it hit Amazon’s “Hot New Releases” list and has been mentioned in Forbes Women. I have never been happier, which is why I have reached a point where I can help others and share. It has actually become my life’s purpose. I am a link between Verbal Abuse and Happiness.
How can you avoid verbal abuse? By noticing how you feel and appreciating your own self worth. Always listen to your gut feeling – although that can be very hard and very scary, but practice makes perfect.
Here are five of the biggest telltale signs you are in a verbally abusive relationship:
- You are nervous around him. (Walking on eggshells.)
- His needs come first. (You drop everything at his call.)
- Your friends and family disappear. (They aren’t good enough for you – he says.)
- You suffer from various stress and anxiety symptoms. (Stomach and headaches, insomnia, dizziness, depression etc.)
- You complain to yourself or other people about him.
Most of all, I hope to reach teens and young adults before they enter into long term relationships and get stuck. So it is my wish to reach the educational systems all over the world.
Love and Blessings.
About Henriette Eiby Christensen…
Born in 1962, Danish. Lived in the USA from 1984 to 1990. Author, Artist, Teacher, Speaker, Counselor. Single mother of three.
Henriette is the author of 110 Ways to Detect a Bad Relationship – Before it’s too Late. Her new book 110 Ways to Charm your Brain – Positive Thinking is coming out soon.
Follow Henriette on her website www.110ways.com
I hope Henriette’s story has touched you, taught you, made you think about your own self-worth, and will make you reach out for help if you are in a similar situation. It is my goal for this post to help someone who might be suffering. Please forward this to anyone you feel might be in a similar situation. I hope her message of hope, despair and resilience will stay with you. If you have any comments or questions for Henriette, I encourage you to post them right here.