Maria Tapley


A Rebound to a Rude Revelation


Abuse lasted: 4.5 years.
Age: 63

I was fresh out of college. My “boyfriend” and I couldn’t quite keep the relationship going in the positive direction. We had tried to get things right since high school, but to no avail. The final interchange between us left me weeping bitterly and I returned to my mother’s house for the weekend.

That was where I met my first husband. He was one of my brother’s friends and happened to be at the house that day. To make a long story shorter, we established a relationship. He was a very handsome man, and he seemed to need me in his life. He didn’t have a lot to contribute financially, but I was going to stand by him as he developed into the man that he had the potential of becoming. It wasn’t long before I realized that he wasn’t very concerned with my needs. I had married him and then realized that I had allowed myself to be drawn into a one sided relationship. All was well as long as he benefited. He began to berate me by saying that no one wanted me but him. Then, he’d show me that he really didn’t want me because he was unfaithful from the very beginning of the marriage. He began to become physically aggressive by exerting his dominance during intimate times. I didn’t have control over my own body. He used those times to show that he had power and was in control. I protested and fought, but he was stronger than I was. I don’t want to come across as a helpless victim, though. I was feisty and fought back, which didn’t help matters.

During the course of our 4 year marriage, I had bruises around my neck, blood shot eyes, sore muscles and cervical cramps on more than one occasion . There was one time where I ended up in the hospital. It was because I lost my temper and tried to fight back with a broken whiskey bottle as my ex was taking money from me while his girlfriend was waiting outside in the car for him. I inadvertently cut my on wrist in the process of trying to slash him.
I know people would say, “Why did you stay?”. My church environment encouraged me to try everything that I could to save my marriage and I was naive enough to fall for that. I eventually learned that I had to recognize my personal value, first. I was more important than a marriage. And I realized that I was sacrificing myself for a relationship with no merit. My physical, emotional and sexual safety should take preeminence.
It took a while, but I was able to make the choice to leave. I had the financial means to care for myself so there was no need to continue to live under that kind of oppression. I had to deal with guilt, though. My warped thinking told me that I had a measure of responsibility for his welfare. He had suffered an abusive childhood and I felt sorry for him. It took years after another failed marriage, a bout with alcoholism and many sessions of counseling to realize that I would have never married either of my husbands if I hadn’t have been seeing relationships through the eyes of an abused child. I learned at a young age that my feelings didn’t matter. Approval only came when I did something that my parent liked. My mother involved me in her arguments with my dad and if I didn’t take her side I suffered emotional blackmail. So, I learned at an early age that I was responsible for fixing the chaotic environment in our house.

It was the process of being open with God that has helped me in the journey of healing. I had to be honest enough to say that I almost hated my first husband. I suffered physical damage that I live with even today. I will never have children which has been the hardest thing to accept. Yet, I still had to work towards forgiveness… for my own sake. Fortunately, years after my divorce, I was able to hold a decent conversation with my ex. He took responsibility for his actions and we agreed to be friends from that point on. Four weeks after that treaty, he had a heart attack and passed away. I am so thankful that we got the chance to talk before he left this earth.

My first marriage was a rebound from a failed relationship that had lasted at least 6 years. I learned that my emotional deficits made it difficult for any relationship to be healthy. I would encourage anyone in an abusive relationship to devise an exit strategy. Do not move until you have safety protocols in place. Then, get counseling to help process the effects of the abuse because it leaves scars. In the process, evaluate the personality traits that left you vulnerable. Abusive partners have their own struggles and they are skilled at finding empathetic people to predate on. Be encouraged! There is life after abuse.

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