It took me a decade to realise how dangerously abusive, toxic, and manipulative he was. I had been loyal to a dream turned nightmare: my ex-husband. And I made myself vulnerable again for the sake of my child, who doesn’t appreciate the danger I faced so that she could be with her dad.
I never doubted that I made the right choices since the divorce. I would take my child to visit her father during most school holidays. Some would say I didn’t have a life, I would reply that I had this little bundle of joy who had to know both of her parents. She shouldn’t have to go through the horrific emotional scarring of a childhood without a paternal figure. Whatever the disputes, I made sure she would spend as much time as possible with him.
This didn’t go well.
My ex-husband never respected the custody terms that were agreed upon at court. Mind, the judge told us to be flexible and not come back to bother her. I’ve been beyond flexible. I let him take our daughter whenever he was in our country. I let his parents take her whenever they had grand-daughter cravings. I relocated so that she could be schooled in his country. When I had to leave, because of months of tragic mishaps which resulted in me being hired but not allowed to work, and unable to earn any money – because the UK is stupid like that, I had my child’s best interest at heart. She said she wanted to stay with her father, and I found it was important not to disrupt her school year, so I let her stay.
I tried to start my life again. I suggested to my ex-husband that we go to court to make a change of custody. He said he didn’t want to give his money to lawyers.
For months, though he begged me to come back. He kept talking of love, of our marriage still being valid in the eyes of god -considering that he is an atheist, this is quite the hypocritical argument.
I was in a relationship with a very kind and caring person, but my ex’s constant calls and pleas were getting at me. I tried to avoid him but every time I called my child, he would hijack the communication. I was getting very depressed, spending hours crying everyday.
Then he said he would lose his job without my help, that he needed me to look after my child while he had business trips.
I had to go back to Europe anyway. With my heart broken, I left the man I adored.
My ex didn’t even let me spend a bit of time with my family. He came to get me, like a possession. It felt immediately wrong, my depression symptoms increased.
I would like to say that I spent a nice summer looking after my child and helping my ex out, but I did not. It was horrendous.
So yes he took me out several times, we went to the restaurant, with and without our child, we visited some wonderful castles and parks… But it was not nice.
How could it be nice? I was turned into some kind of domestic pet slave for the whole summer. I cleaned his disgusting house – he is very messy borderline hoarder, the cupboards are full of food gone bad years ago. I cleaned, emptied, recycled as much as I could. It was so revolting. How could he leave a kitchen in such a state with our daughter living there!? I can’t even explain the state of the other rooms. Or his garden.
I helped, and helped more. I took our child to school, took her out to the park, taught her badminton, had ice creams at the pantry. I did so much. And injured my back.
He said he needed me in september too. But all his promises of helping me out with my healthcare appointments were never fulfilled. He then tried to force me to get jobs that didn’t match my skills – but hey ho who cares, so that I could pay him for letting me stay in his house – oh the irony!
And of course, there was the issue of sex. By refusing myself to him, I was damaging his health he said. He was having cardiac problems because of his constant erections due to my presence and my smell. Sex abuse began. And constant harassment every time I was talking of myself, my injuries, and my sadness.
He almost beat me up again. Almost. He kept hitting the mattress and the wall next to my head.
After 2 months and a half, I packed most of my things, and left some as a decoy. When he took me for a small trip to France, I stayed at my mother’s without him and my daughter. I needed time on my own, I said. They went back to the UK. A few days later, he called. He had understood that I would not be coming back. It’s strange because I had not realised it fully myself.
It’s been months now. My daughter refused to come and see me for Christmas. I let her make her own choices, I won’t force her to spend time with someone she resents -me, her mother.
I have started to cry less about it. My child is happy, this is what matters to me. I sent her a couple of presents, she liked them, and thanked me. My ex started dating after I left and is now in a relationship. I am now safe and with a man who really cares about my well-being.
I could say that I should have never accepted to go back and help my ex, I could, I probably should. But then I would have neither known his nefarious intentions, nor discovered how very little my child thought of me. This helped me move on and embrace my own life fully at last.