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Abusive Second Marriage? You’re Not Alone

by | Abuse Literacy

Second Marriage Abuse

There is nothing wrong with you if you left your first marriage and found that your second husband was or is also an abuser.

Chandra’s story continues on the BTR.ORG podcast – she’s sharing her own experience with an abusive second marriage. Read the full transcript below and tune into the BTR.ORG podcast for more.

You Are Not to Blame For His Abuse

When women experience an abusive second marriage, they may blame themselves:

  • I’ve already been through this once, how could I make this mistake again?
  • What is it about me that attracts me to abusers?
  • Why didn’t I see the signs sooner?
  • Why didn’t I do this, this, and this differently?

Here’s the truth: you are not to blame for his behaviors.

Blaming yourself for being abused by another man is needless torture. You have been through enough – please exercise compassion for yourself rather than judgment.

Leaving a Second Abusive Marriage Can Be Difficult – But You Can Do It

Many women, including Chandra, experience embarrassment and shame when they realize that their second marriage is abusive. This shame and embarrassment may deter them from seeking safety early on, believing that with enough grit and determination they can make the marriage work.

Chandra shares:

The shame of making a mistake, that’s what kept me in that situation much longer than I needed to be.

Chandra, Member of the BTR.ORG Community

There Is Nothing Wrong With Wanting to Be Loved

Victims of abuse who experience a second abusive marriage may feel discouraged, embarrassed, and hopeless. Sometimes, victims express feeling silly or pathetic for having entered into a second marriage.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to be loved. In fact, this is a normal part of being human.

What is NOT normal, is being abusive.

You are not the problem here – the abuser is the problem.

BTR.ORG Is Here For You

If you are experiencing trauma from an abusive second marriage, please join our BTR.ORG Group Sessions today. You deserve a healing community of loving, compassionate women who understand.

Full Transcript:

Anne (00:00):
Welcome to BTR.ORG. This is Anne.

We have Chandra, a member of our community, back on today’s episode. She has been with us the past two episodes, so if you have not heard the beginning of her story, (This Is How Abusers Control the Narrative; Abandonment: What You Need To Know) please go there first. Listen to those two and then join us here. We’re going to be talking about her next abusive relationship, which is her second marriage, and we’re just gonna jump right in. Now, you recognize this as abuse. You don’t really know what’s causing it. So what happens when you meet your next abusive husband? Sorry. Oh my gosh. I don’t mean to make light of it, but around here it’s just like, oh my, we don’t do anything wrong. And it’s sort of like no good deed goes unpunished sometimes, right?

Chandra (03:56):
Well, I’m still wrapping my head around having grace for myself for getting into a second situation like that because I feel like, you know, why didn’t I see the red flags after what I’d been through? But I think it might have been too soon and I had not learned the lessons I needed to move into another relationship. And I just thought I was ready, but I must not have been.

“It’s Not Your Fault That Someone Abuses You”

Anne (04:24):
No, I’m gonna disagree with you. Sorry. That’s okay. It’s not your fault that someone abuses you. There are so many women who don’t know much about abuse or who don’t know how to recognize red flags and they marry great guys.

Chandra (04:38):
Yeah.

Anne (04:39):
Because the guy’s not abusive, right? It’s never your fault if someone intentionally deceives you. It’s never your fault if someone intentionally grooms you and you don’t know. Those of us who’ve been through it tend to know more, I would say, than the average person. But the average person who marries a healthy person doesn’t know about it because they weren’t abused. Even though you went through an abusive situation, this second abuser abused differently than what you had seen before. I remember talking to a friend who had been in a horrific abusive situation and I was newly married and I went to her and I said, Hey, you know what’s going on with my husband? Is this kind of what you experienced? She was like, No, your husband’s amazing compared to my guy.

So she thought my husband was totally healthy and great. She’s like, Yeah, but nobody’s perfect, but like, man, he’s so much better. And so I was like, Oh, okay, well then he’s not abusive because she would know cause she’s been in an abusive situation, right? But that’s not necessarily the case because abusers know how to groom people. They know what you will and will not tolerate. Sometimes they are able to groom you in a way that quote unquote works for you, you know? So I just don’t think it’s ever our fault. However, I do think we learn a lot of skills along the way, right?

Chandra (05:58):
Oh my gosh. Yeah.

Anne (06:00):
So saying that, I just wanna say, no, not your fault.

It’s Not Your Fault That He Chose You

Chandra (06:04):
It’s nice to hear that. Uh, it’s just frustrating to have spent another eight years with somebody that was also not a great partner and hurt me again. And especially after all the promises, like, your first husband did you wrong and I’ll take care of you and never let that happen to you, blah, blah, blah. Right? So I met my second husband at work. He was not working in the same company, but he was in sales and would visit and attempt to get me to specify his company’s equipment on projects. And he was real smooth, Mr. Debonaire, you know, a lot of fun and interesting. I think I was just super vulnerable too, and had a broken heart and really just wanted to be loved and I was vulnerable. And I think sometimes I think these men can see that. These men look for somebody that is gonna be maybe compliant and is a bit weaker and is easy to control.

Anne (07:12):
I don’t know about that either. Some of them are looking for someone who will manage them, someone who’s really strong, someone who can organize things and, and do stuff so they can just kind of coast along. So I also wouldn’t say that in terms of it’s your fault for everything, you could say, oh, I was weak. So that’s what he was looking for. There’s also very kind and loving men who might be like, oh, she’s weak, so I need to protect her. Right? So I just don’t think again that it’s your fault. So I just wanna, every time you tell me that there’s some reason, I’m gonna say, no, no, no.

When The Abuser Exposes The Truth About Himself

Chandra (07:49):
Well, you know what? I think this is part of my journey that I’m still working out. I only left him four years ago and I’m still like, I would say I’m still fairly early stages with that one being over. And I mean, it took me 15 years to gain the lessons that I have from the first abuse situation. Sometimes when I’m thinking about it, I hear myself and think, that’s victim blaming. Don’t victim blame yourself. So, yeah. Yeah. I hear you. Definitely. I’m a high-functioning woman. I make stuff happen. I get it done, right? And so I think probably both husbands saw that and went I want me some of that, right? I want that high-functioning woman looking after my life. Because let me tell you, I did that. I took care of things, right? And I would say, what’s really interesting, and this will just tie into my story a bit about my second husband, is that I would visit him or he would visit me when we didn’t live in the same city when my kids were visiting their dad.

(08:47):
And so I wish that I had seen him more around my kids. If I had, I probably would not have married him because he didn’t really want my kids around. I didn’t discover that until after I married him and moved in with him. And whenever I visited him, his house was spotless. Okay? It looked great. His life looked great. He was looking after things. It all looked really good. I will tell you the day I moved in, I hadn’t visited for three months and I am pretty sure he didn’t pick up a single dish cloth. He did not pick up a broom. He did not touch the bathroom. And it was a pigsty the day we moved in. And I remember it was late at night and I was like, you know, we got there and my kids needed baths. And I remember 10 o’clock at night cleaning the bathroom thinking, what have I gotten myself into? This guy wants me to do all the cleaning. He wants me to do everything around here. I was never able to get him to pick up a broom or a vacuum to help out from then on. He said, Well, you’re the one with all the kids, so the mess is mostly yours. You need to clean up.

Anne (09:57):
Was he a member of your church?

Chandra (09:59):
No, he wasn’t.

Anne (10:01):
I’m not saying anything about if he would’ve been, it would’ve been good. No, no, no.

Chandra (10:05):
Well, that’s the thing is I, I remember thinking when I started dating him, Should I be dating someone from my faith community? Well, first of all, the pickings were pretty slim. Where I was living, I was living in a remote northern community north of Toronto. Not a lot of choice up there, I would say. I mean, there’s some really good people up there, but I thought to myself, Does it really matter? Because I married somebody that checked all the boxes I was taught to look for and look what happened. So do you really think I care if he’s a member of my faith community or not?

Anne (10:36):
That’s exactly how I feel now. Yeah, I do not care about that.

The Abuser’s Behaviors In The Marriage

Chandra (10:39):
I just wanted to be with someone that would love me and treat me right. And I thought that’s what I had. But very quickly after moving in with him, I realized I was in trouble. And the first Monday morning that we woke up to go to work, he, he woke up late and his alarm hadn’t gone off or something. And he looked at me and he said, Why didn’t you get me up ? And I was like, It’s my job to do that. What have you been doing all this time that you’ve been living alone? It’s not my job to get you up in the morning. And I thought, oh my gosh. He would come home at 10 o’clock at night and I would not hear from him. And I didn’t know where he was. And he would come in and I would say, where were you and why didn’t you let me know where you were? Like, you’re married. You’re married. You should tell me where you are. And he felt entitled to be able to go wherever he wanted and do what he wanted. And he didn’t have to answer to me.

Anne (11:33):
Had he been married before?

“I Found Him Getting In Fights With My Son”

Chandra (11:35):
He had not been married before. And he was a few years younger than me, but his level of maturity was well below what he had presented. Like I found him getting into fights with my 10 year old son and behaving in ways that were similar to my son as if his emotional development had been arrested at age 10. It was very strange, you know, I started noticing things about him. He had no empathy for my kids and he did not treat them very well. And it didn’t take me long before I realized that I needed to get us out of there. And I actually moved out about four years after we moved in with him. I mean, I tried for a while to make things work, but I knew right away I was not in a good situation. But the shame of making a mistake, that’s what kept me in that situation much longer than I needed to be.

(12:32):
That’s one thing I wish I could change, is just, you know, don’t worry about what people think. If it’s not right, do something about it. You know, I know that’s not easy. It’s not that simple. I know that. But if I could change anything, that’s one thing I would change. But in the process of me preparing to move out, he started having an affair. And I was not expecting that. I mean, we weren’t getting along that great. And I was really upset with him for his behaviors and the way he was treating my kids, but I wasn’t expecting him to do that. But I recognized the signs right away. And a week after I moved out, I had gone to his place to do my laundry because the place I’d moved into, they were getting a new washer-dryer and it wasn’t there yet.

Discovering the Abuser’s Affair

(13:17):
So I went over to his place and lo and behold, there’s a vehicle sitting in the driveway. I didn’t recognize it. So I’m the wife, I’m gonna open the door and look in the glove box. And it was a woman, a woman’s ID in there. And I looked her up on Facebook and I went into the house and he had taken all the pictures of us and any evidence that I existed and swept it into drawers and basically hid every, every possible evidence that he had a wife. And I realized, oh, he’s out on a date with this woman and he plans to bring her back here because I don’t see any of my stuff out. Cause I hadn’t taken everything and I thought, this was gonna be a short term separation. I didn’t really know. So I actually looked her up on Facebook and I sent her a message and I said, Did you know that man you’re on a date with is married?

(14:15):
You know, I’m at the house. I was gonna do my laundry and I’m not confrontational, but I’d like you to come and get your car and go home. And they stayed out for a while after that, I know they’d seen my messages and there was a bit of back and forth and I just, I said, I’m just here waiting. I’m not gonna hurt anybody. I’m not gonna come out and yell at anybody, but I just, I wanna talk to you. I said that to my husband. So he came in and I had evidence, and all he could do was lie and lie and lie. He was just lying his face off, trying to hide it. And I was like, I’ve got the evidence that you’re with this woman. And I messaged her the next day because even then all the lies were were kinda shaking me up and I thought, well, what if it’s not what it looks like and whatever.

When The Abuser Begins Playing the Victim

(15:00):
So I actually messaged her again the next day and asked her for details. She told me that he had lied and said that he had been separated for six months, but I had literally just moved out. And I told her, I said, we were supposed to be working on the relationship, we’ve been married for this long and we were struggling over getting along because of the kids or whatever. And she said, I am so sorry. Like, she had no idea he had lied to her and made it sound like the relationship was over many months ago. And she said, You know, I’m so sorry. I had no idea. And you know, he told me these lies. And I said, Okay, don’t worry about it. But then I showed him the messages and I said, Look, she’s told me everything. I know this has been going on for two months. And once he was found out, he breaks down and he’s crying. And oh, you know, I’m so messed up and yeah, let’s work on it, blah, blah, blah. So for the next year I bent over backwards like I did before, thinking this man, this was just a mistake, like an accident. Haha. He made this mistake. And it’s just because things have been rough and we’ve been fighting and we were getting separated and it knocked him loose. And he’s a little bit upset about that and whatever. I was making all these stupid excuses for him.

The Abuser’s Porn Use

Anne (16:12):
Were you aware that he used porn?

Chandra (16:15):
When we were dating I had said to him, I absolutely don’t tolerate porn in my relationships. And he says, Oh, well I used to use that. I only use that when I’m single. I don’t really need that. I’m not addicted. That’s what he said. And I said, Well, it is absolutely not welcome in our relationship. And he agreed. He’s like, Okay, I can do that. I’m not addicted to it. But you know, I noticed right before I moved out, he was on his phone a lot. And at one point he had this friend sending him porn images, and we were in the bedroom one time, and he showed me, he showed me a picture and he said, Oh, my friend just sent me this. And I took one look at it and I went, What the heck is that? I said, That’s porn. I don’t wanna see that. I was disgusted by it and I was angry at him. And I caught him a couple of other times looking at images and I realized he’s gone right back to it. Maybe he’s been doing it the whole time and I don’t even know, you know, And he would have problems off and on with performing in bed.

Anne (17:17):
Yep. That’s a porn thing.

More Sex Doesn’t Solve Porn Use

Chandra (17:18):
Yeah. And I didn’t really realize that, but it sort of made sense. I thought, well, if he’s fooling around with that all the time, he’s not, he’s not gonna have it for me. But he would tell me, he’d say, Oh, you do it for me, you do it for me. That kind of thing. Anyway, I, I realized that that was happening. And so, because I didn’t want that to continue, I made a really big effort that year after the affair to go over to his place and see him and spend time with him and be intimate with him. And let me tell you –

Anne (17:47):
Oh, thinking that that would solve the problem?

Chandra (17:49):
They think that would solve the problem. And neither of my husbands were deprived for sex, let me just say that. They were not, and there was no reason for them to be doing anything else. There really wasn’t.

Anne (18:00):
Even if they’re deprived of sex there, there’s still no reason for them to be doing that because what, are their balls gonna fall off or something? No, they’re not.

Chandra (18:08):
I guess the reason I say that is because my first husband had said he had an expectation that he was going to have sex every single day when he got married. That’s what he thought. And somehow I had dropped the ball and not made that happen for him. And so that was one of his excuses for his acting out.

Anne (18:28):
Uh, yeah. And at the time you didn’t know.

Chandra’s Abuser Went Fishing Instead of Going to The Hospital When She Miscarried

Chandra (18:31):
Yeah, exactly. So moving right along, basically I think there was more divine intervention in helping me get past this relationship. A year after my second husband had that affair, a whole bunch of horrible things happened all at once. I lost my job, I had a layoff, and I, I actually think it was related to all the stress I was under. I was really struggling emotionally and I was performing at work, but my attitude was really bad. Like I was really suffering. And, you know, instead of asking me if there was anything they could do to help, my employer was like, She’s a problem. Get her out of here . At least that’s my interpretation of what happened. And being in an all-male work environment, and I mean, it was just, it’s a tough environment for women to be in, in the first place, but there was not gonna be any understanding.

(19:20):
You know, I was driving my kids around a lot. Sometimes I would have to leave in the middle of the day to take them to appointments. And I don’t think anybody really understood what I was going through at the time, trying to, you know, work full time and build my career as an engineer and take care of four kids. It was just insane. And I had no family around really to help me. And so I lost my job and I had had a miscarriage somehow. I was 43 and I had gotten pregnant, and I was actually so relieved that that pregnancy didn’t happen because I mean, I was not with a good person. And when I went through that, I was at the hospital dealing with that, and he couldn’t even be bothered to come and be with me. He went fishing instead.

Catching Another Affair

(20:05):
And, you know, that kind of didn’t sit well with me. And then, you know how, uh, the phones you can have, uh, share my location with your, with your partner, with family members. We had been trying to get that to work because I had wanted to sort of keep tabs on him so I knew where he was and his phone, I couldn’t get it to work with his phone. And I couldn’t figure it out. One evening he came over for dinner. It was a Sunday afternoon, he came and had dinner with me and the kids at our place. And then he just went home. And it was weird because most of the time we would spend time on Sunday evenings together before the work week started or whatever. And he just went home and I, I think he said something about having something to do, and I was just sitting there minding my own business, and all of a sudden, out of the blue, my phone started to show me where he was.

(20:58):
And he was in a part of the city that he shouldn’t have been in at that time of day, or during that time of the week. It, it didn’t make sense. He was down in a, a part of the city where they would have festivals and there was actually a festival going on in the city at the time. And I really think this was divine intervention in a way to wake me up to the situation I was in because I got really panicky again all of a sudden. And I basically followed to where the location showed me he was. And there was this truck in the parking lot at this, uh, festival spot. And I thought, Oh my gosh, you know, he’s fooling around on me still. All of a sudden he came walking back from where he was in the festival towards his truck, and I got outta my car and he was with a woman, and I started walking towards him and he saw me and he started walking away from her. And I pointed at him and I said, You’re doing it again? And I said to her, He’s a cheater. I said, He’s married to me, he’s basically already had one affair and now he’s trying to have another one. And I was like, freaking out.

Anne (22:05):
And most likely, more than more than that, that you never knew about.

Playing Detective is a Safety Seeking Behavior

Chandra (22:09):
Well, I did find out a lot more later because after that happened, I demanded, I said, You have to give me all your passwords. And that’s when I started like checking his emails and checking his Facebook and doing all this stuff to sort of try and wrap my head around how big this problem was. But I still remember thinking, this is a pattern. You know how they say, fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. So I thought to myself, why am I accepting this behavior? And so I, I gave him another chance, which I don’t even to this day, I think I was just ashamed of being in this situation for a second time and thought I wanna make this right. I thought, I think I thought there was still a way to figure it out. But I spent the next few months sort of finding out more and more about what he’d been up to and contacting a lot of the women that he had been messaging on Facebook and asking them what had actually happened. Like I was really doing my sleuth thing, right? Like they would like message me and say, Oh yeah, he asked me for pictures. And he, you know, he wanted to get together and they would tell me about the conversations they had. And, you know, I was doing all this research and I finally said to him, You know, the only way that we’re staying together is if we get some counseling from somebody that can help a couple heal from the betrayal.

Anne (23:25):
Oh, because you didn’t know it was abuse.

Chandra (23:27):
I still didn’t know. I still didn’t see it that way.

Couples Counseling (Not Recommended For Abuse Victims)

Anne (23:31):
I want, I wanna hear how this counseling went because, uh, I would guess it’s going to not do any good and not go very well.

Chandra (23:40):

It didn’t do any good. The counselor was really well known and does like couples counseling for helping them heal from betrayal. And his approach was really good. I mean, I could see it, It was better than anything else we’d done. We’d been to counseling two or three times.

Anne (23:57):
I would not say that his approach was really good if he didn’t tell you you were being abused. All right, we’re gonna pause the conversation here again and talk about the rest of Chandra’s story next week on the last episode with her. So stay tuned. If this podcast is helpful to you, please support it. And until next week, stay safe out there.

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