Sixteen years ago, I went on a dating site. I communicated with a man via email for several months, before pictures were sent and we met.
Initially, I was afraid to start anything because of our cultural differences. They didn't make our families happy, especially his mom, because I had a child out of wedlock, and I’m black.
I started the relationship thinking my life and my child would be better off. But that wasn’t so.
I’ve been the financial provider from the beginning. I wasn't happy about it, but I didn't say anything because I didn't want to be alone.
All these years later, we’re still living in the same apartment, living on my paycheque to paycheque.
I’ve been mentally, physically, and emotionally abused.
I want out, but it can't happen because he has nowhere to go.
You’ve put up with too much for too long. Focus on yourself and your child.
This man has taken enough from you – your hard work, your well-being, and safety.
He will find where to go, because he’s selfish and knows how to survive at others’ expense.
Get out, but get out safely. He’s abused you before and can be harmful if he realizes his meal-ticket is leaving.
Do a secure search of shelters or agencies that provide help and accommodation (use a public library computer, not your own, to do your research and planning).
Since he knows where you work, alert police to any fears you have about his reaction. If necessary, put a restraining order on him.
Talk to a lawyer or legal clinic. In some jurisdictions, you may need to pay him a settlement to legally separate without further obligation. If so, it’s still worth your peace of mind!
I had my first panic attack recently, after a year of struggling with depression.
I live with my husband’s family, who tease me about being depressed and call me names.
My husband isn't good with feelings, especially not mine. So I now hide them from him and them.
I made a goal of improving my life to be happy again.
I got a full-time job, and went back to school. I stopped being dependent, tried harder at being a better wife. I spend more time with my kids.
But I still feel lost. The more I try to hide my feelings, the harder it's getting.
This past week, my step-brother died. I broke down. I couldn’t breathe, couldn't think. I was shaking and numb. I bawled in front of everyone at home, so I ran.
My husband followed me and asked what happened. I told him it was a panic attack. He said I'm over-reacting, that anxiety is just made up and used for pity.
So I'm back to hiding hurt and sadness again.
How can I make him and his family more supportive of my anxiety and depression? I need comfort and understanding of how broken I really am.
Make looking after yourself Goal #1. See a doctor about your anxiety, and discuss an appropriate treatment plan, soon.
You may need medication when you experience panic, and natural strategies may help prevent these (exercise, yoga, etc.)
If there’s any way you and your husband can move out from your insensitive and uninformed in-laws’ home, that should be Goal #2.
If not, ongoing counselling will help you discuss your feelings, and learn ways to manage them.
Your husband and family will see your improvement and hopefully back off.
FEEDBACK Regarding the woman with nasty in-laws (April 12):
Reader – “I'm sorry that she’s in this position because of her love and loyalty towards her husband.
“But he’ll never protect or defend her. His loyalty remains with his family.
“I’ve been married for 28 years.
“I went though a lot of lying, deceit, disrespect, and plain evil from my in-laws, but they always pretend nothing happened.
“Confronting and correcting issues are still avoided.
“The first time my mother met my in-laws she told me they’re not nice people.
“Now I stay away from them. I won’t let those poisonous people affect me. I protect myself.
“This woman’s husband is afraid, and her in-laws will always stick together in nasty behaviour.
“She should put her energy into something that’ll empower her or make her happy.
“My in-laws’ negativity and nastiness came back to them. Their children and grand-children are nasty too.”
Tip of the day:
Do NOT accept abuse. Make a safe plan to leave, involving police as needed.