when it's time to leave my husband
This is How You Know It’s Time to Leave

Vicki shares her courageous journey leaving an abusive marriage, including the challenges, interventions, and empowering choices that led her to safety.

Every victim faces a unique moment when she has had enough, when she realizes, “It’s time to leave.”

Vicki shares her powerful story of liberating herself from an abusive marriage when she reached her own moment of realization. Vicki’s story offers a beacon of hope for survivors facing similar challenges. Tune in to The BTR.ORG Podcast and read the full transcript below for more.

This episode is Part 2 of Anne’s interview with Vicki.
Part 1: Walking Away After 30 Years of Narcissistic Abuse
Part 2: This is How You Know It’s Time to Leave (this episode)
Part 3: Here Are My Emotions in the Aftermath of Abuse 

When You Know it’s Time to Leave

Whether you’ve been married for days, weeks, months, or years, we want you to be safe as you prepare to leave your abusive marriage.

As you’ll hear in Vicki’s story, her abusive ex-husband reached new and terrifying heights of violence and intimidation when he realized that she was on the precipice of change. This is common in abuse scenarios.

Victims Can Prepare to Safely Leave an Abusive Relationship By:

  • Creating a safety plan with a BTR.ORG coach or local domestic violence victim advocate
  • Reaching out to safe folks and letting them know the plan, and ways to offer support
  • Pack an emergency bag that is hidden and easily accessible in case the need arises for a quick exit

BTR.ORG Is Here For You

For those currently on the path to freedom, Vicki’s story stands as a testament to resilience. It reinforces the message that leaving an abusive marriage is a courageous act, requiring careful planning, support systems, and a commitment to one’s safety. Vicki’s journey,  serves as an inspiration for victims taking the first steps toward reclaiming their lives. You are not alone, and there is strength in breaking free. Consider attending a BTR.ORG Group Session today.

Full Transcript:

Anne (00:01): Welcome to BTR.ORG. This is Anne.

Vicki is back on today’s episode. We started her story last week, so if you didn’t hear that, listen first and then join us here. Today we’re talking about how Vicki did not have strategies for communicating with her abuser post-divorce.

So many victims don’t have these strategies, so please check out our Living Free Workshop. These safety strategies, thought strategies, communication strategies, boundary strategies, work, every listener to the podcast needs to take that workshop so you have the right idea about how to communicate safely and what to do.

The Ever-Changing Goal Posts of the Abuser

(02:13): When did you realize that all of your hard work and you know, all the things he had manipulated you to do that you didn’t know that it wasn’t working out like he said it was right. An abuser will be like, well, if you would only do this, this, and this, everything would be good.

Because they’re liars, they always move the goalposts.  If he’s like, you’ve gotta have dinner ready by five and you know, da da da, and then you do all the things and then he still acting terrible. And then he says, well, and you have to lose weight and you have to work out.

You know, I don’t know all the things he says. There’s never a time where he is like, oh good, yeah, you did do that. Okay, now I am happy. Now we’re great. That never happens with an abuser.

Vicki (03:01): No.

No Sane Woman Would Put up With This, Is it Time to Leave?

Anne (03:02): In essence, we’re believing these, I wanna say promises like if you do this and you do this, things will be good. And they never are. When did it come to the point where you realized, wait a minute, there’s not anything I can do that’s going to manage him or make him happy. Was that the same point you thought he was mentally ill? Or was this before?

Vicki (03:22): Probably. I mean, it was several months. He had lost another job. When he had gotten that job, he said to me, this is the last job I’m ever gonna get. I was just like, and so what’s your plan after that? And he was just like, I don’t have one. I’m just not doing this again. If I lose this job, I’m not getting one again.

Then when he lost that job, I was just remembering what he had said back then and he was just completely worthless. I started realizing there was zero motivation for me to remain in that relationship because it was all for him and nothing for me. That was kind of me coming out of the fog. I was like, why am I doing this? No sane woman would put up with this.

Then I’m like, well, you’re sane, so why are you putting up with it? It took me several months of just gradually realizing that there was nothing for me in that relationship. So that when it came to the point where he was just so scary and threatening me and everything that I was totally able to just be like, okay, bye <laugh>.

He’s Losing Jobs, She’s Working to Survive

Anne (04:30): He was losing jobs all the time. Were you working?

Vicki (04:33): I stayed at home until my youngest went into first grade and then I was working 35 hours a week at their school. I was the only one working and he was staying home, quote unquote, looking for jobs online.

Anne (04:50): Okay.

Vicki (04:51): Month after month.

Anne (04:53): Then he’d get a job, then he’d lose it. You were consistently working and he was kind of going back and forth. Yeah,

Vicki (04:58): You know, when I was a stay at home mom, I did things at home to earn money as well.

He’s Just Mean, Is it Time to Leave?

Anne (05:04): At this point where he doesn’t even show any interest in getting a job again, you’re like, wait a minute. He isn’t contributing to the household income. And he’s not doing things around the house. He’s not even helpful. He’s just mean.  It’s very sad to me that you lived with this for so long and you, you just didn’t know. Like no one told you?

Vicki (05:27): No.

Anne (05:28): I’m shockingly blunt with people and so I’m often telling women that they’re being abused and a lot of times it’s just like in real life they haven’t come to BTR. They weren’t searching. They do not like me. ’cause they’re like, who is this lady? My husband’s great. I don’t know what her problem is.

The reason I do that is because I feel like a lot of women are in your situation. And it was mine too. The second someone told me that, I was like, oh, and had someone told me sooner than I would’ve done something about it sooner, I just didn’t know.

I was in shock that I had spent seven years going to therapists in the pornography addiction recovery industrial complex, including 12 step groups. Yeah. And no one said, I mean they mentioned every once in a while, but it just did not click that this is abuse. Did you talk to clergy? Did you ever go to therapy before?

“Therapy Was a Completely Taboo Subject”

Vicki (06:29): No. Therapy was completely a taboo subject.

Anne (06:32): You couldn’t even go by yourself?

Vicki (06:34): Oh no, no, no, no. That was completely not allowed. And any suggest of me wanting him to get help or take medicine or anything like that was, oh, that was just, you know, it would invoke rage. No, I had zero therapy before I knew nothing. I never read a self-help book.

I knew nothing about what I was going through until after. Now I have read pretty much everything that could be found. I have a comment about the 12 step recovery. Right after, of course the clergy was like, yeah, you should go to this.

You know, if, if that’s what you were dealing with, you should go to this porn addiction recovery for the wives, you know, because you know, the divorce wasn’t final or anything. And I guess they were thinking maybe that it would heal the relationship or something if I did.

I went to two sessions and on the second one I literally walked out when the facilitator said the words sisters, we can love them into changing. No, 30 years of blood, sweat and tears.  If that wasn’t enough love to make him change, then no, don’t ever say that. I was done.

Anne (07:48): That poor woman doesn’t realize that that is exactly what the abuser wants her to think.

Vicki (07:54): Yep.

“She is Exactly Where He Wants Her”

Anne (07:55): She is exactly where he wants her because if she thinks that love and service and stuff will help him change, he can exploit her all he wants. Yep. It is so dangerous. It is one of the most dangerous things to say to a victim of abuse.

I’m glad you walked out. Good job. The therapist says to you, just someone you randomly meet that your husband drives to and starts yelling at like, this is a crazy story, Vicki, sorry. I’m like, wow, this is like God’s intervening in a serious way.

She’s like run for your life and you never look back. What about the intervention? When did the intervention with your kids take place?

Knowing It’s Time to Leave,The Beginning of The End.

Vicki (08:34): The night before the incident at the therapist, he took my phone away, he locked me in my room and put me on a chair and was basically like, if you try to stand up, you will be hurt.

I was being held hostage in my room, so I couldn’t call for help. Then he proceeded to tell me the ways that our lives were gonna be ended, et cetera.

Anne (08:58): Whoa, whoa, whoa. Ended like he’s gonna kill you?

“Where’s Your Wife?”

Vicki (09:00): Yeah. It was pretty much, I mean he didn’t say it in that exact way, but it was like, if you died at the same time as me, how would that make you feel? Things like that. I was just crying and crying and my daughter who could not get ahold of me knew that he was being crazy and scary.

She called the police and they came and did a welfare check. And of course he goes to the door, huh? Is there a problem, Officer?

Anne (09:26): Uhhuh

Vicki (09:27):
And they go, well, we just got a call that there might be a problem here. Where’s your wife? They made him go, get me out. And of course it looked like I had been crying for 12 hours straight.

The woman took me in one room and the man took him in the other room and basically after that little small interview, separate interview, they said, Okay, you can either go in the police car in handcuffs to the police station, or you can go in an ambulance to the psych ward, you pick.

Of course he picked the ambulance to the psych ward. Then he was there for just a few hours and they let him go.  I don’t know what happened in the psych ward, nobody talked to me.

They Let a Dangerous Person Out

Anne (10:09): You know, there’s no diagnosis for abuser in the DSM, as it turns out. What are they gonna do? Diagnose him with being an abuser? So they let a dangerous person out.

Vicki (10:24): The system is so bad. It’s, so when that happened, that’s when my adult kids are like, okay, we’re getting her out. And when they found out that he was dragging me to the therapist, one daughter was at my house packing bags.

Anne (10:36): Okay.

Vicki (10:37): Another daughter was getting the three minor children to safety. Another, you know, son was doing this. They all –

Anne (10:46): Jumped into action.

Vicki (10:47): Yes.

Anne (10:48): Good for your kids.

I Knew it was Time to Leave, I Never Went Back to My House. Ever.

Vicki (10:50): I didn’t know, but the son that was with me, because there was my son, myself and my ex that were at the therapist. He took me away and we just left car keys for the other car in the parking lot.

We left them at the desk and then we just left. And I did not know at the time that they were abducting me , but I never went back to my house. Ever.

Anne (11:17): That’s good.

Vicki (11:18): After that, my brothers moved me out of that house.

The Second You Realized This was Abuse, You  Knew it Was Time to Leave

Anne (11:22): Vicki is a intelligent normal, you’re not perfect, right? You’re an intelligent, capable woman who has two brain cells to rub together. Congratulations. This crazy event of your kids getting involved and the him driving to therapist and screaming around is the first time that you register that you’re being abused.

This says nothing about you and says everything about the state of women being educated about abuse. Right. Because had you been educated about abuse, you would’ve known this is not rocket science. So that’s why I do this podcast is to get the word out.

This is what abuse is, this is what it looks like.  The second you realized it, you were able to take action. It’s so, so important for women to know what’s going on, to know the truth. Yes. Were you able to get a protective order ’cause he was being some wackadoodle?

Vicki (13:42): Yes. We all got protective orders.

“I Always Recommend That You Go the Criminal Route”

Anne (13:44): Okay, that’s great. When it comes to divorce and custody, I always recommend that you go with the criminal route because criminally with a protective order, with other criminal processes that the justice system can take, they are more reliable for keeping victims safe.

Even though it’s not perfect. And even though it doesn’t always work right, it’s just more reliable than divorce. I’m not saying don’t get divorced if your divorce attorney says, no, no, no, don’t get a protective order because then it’ll be harder to divorce him.

A lot of divorce attorneys say that. I’m like, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. Get the protective order. Get it. Yeah. Because then if he breaks it, you can call the cops. They will actually take action and if he breaks it, they can do something about it.

They don’t always do something about it. Check and see what the laws are in your area if the police are reliable, you know, that kind of thing.

Even if in a divorce court they say, Hey, you can’t go to her house, there’s no way for the civil side, the divorce side, to enforce it. And since it’s not enforceable because it’s just a civil decree, that means kind of nothing. The criminal stuff is always going to keep you safer.

Vicki (14:56): Agree.

Anne (14:57): Because you guys had protective orders, did you get full custody of the kids or did he still have some custody?

The Clergy’s Response to Vicki’s Knowing It’s Time to Leave

Vicki (15:03): I did. Part of that was just because he was unemployed and because I had the protective order, et cetera, I was able to get legal services and he didn’t have it. He didn’t really fight me and that’s how I got the, the full custody. I feel really grateful for that because he later did try to come back and and get it, but he never did.

Anne (15:28): That’s good. Yeah. Wow. During this time, you know you’re being abused and you’re telling people you had some bad experiences it sounds like with clergy, where they were like, wait, wait, wait, let’s get him help rather than your safety is our top priority. Can you talk about that?

Vicki (15:43): Thankfully, the first clergy I talked to didn’t say that. He was like, just promise you’re never going back to him. All he knew was just like the one last little incident. That was super helpful. After that, there were several different clergy who treated me kind of like I was a pariah because I had done the unthinkable, which is to abandon my marriage.

I didn’t get some good help from those, but I had already made the decision to leave the marriage by the time this was happening. They were just chastising me after the fact.

When Clergy Re-Traumatizes Victims

Anne (16:20): That is awful. I’m so sorry. I had one of my bishops clergy tell me that I was the abusive one for going to the doctor to get medical care for him, physically spraining my hand.

Vicki (16:34): Wow.

Anne (16:35): Like I was the abusive one for saying he was abusive apparently. I was like, yeah, okay.

Vicki (16:40):That’s, wow,

Anne (16:41): That’s fun.

Vicki (16:42): Mind blowing.

Anne (16:43): Yeah, it’s insane. How long ago was this?

Vicki (16:46): It’s been over a decade.

Anne (16:48): You’ve been relatively safe. Did he kind of just like leave you alone after divorce?

Vicki (16:55): Oh no, no, no,

Anne (16:55): No, no. Okay. Let’s talk about post. Post-divorce abuse.

“Before I told Him That I was Divorcing Him, It Was All Flowers And Roses.”

Vicki (17:01): Yes. It’s really interesting how much an abuser can still abuse when the entire family has protective orders because we still had a house to sell and a divorce to do. Parent time, you know, and all of this stuff. I couldn’t just like have no contact whatsoever.

I just put in the protective order that we could have email contact about the business things only. Well, he violated that and first, before I told him that I was divorcing him, it was all, you know, flowers and, and roses and you know, when can I come back and when are we getting back together and, and all of that stuff.

Then as soon as I told him that I was done, then it turned to just hostility and tons of preachy, gross stuff.

Anne (17:52): Spiritual abuse kind of stuff?

“I Was Constantly In Fear.”

Vicki (17:54): Yes. Oh so much. Every scripture, everything telling me what a terrible person I was and it was just so awful. I put up with it for months, even after pretty much everything was all taken care of and I didn’t need to anymore.

Finally other people talked to me and they were just like, why do you even still talk to him? And so I finally did just cut off all contact. It did not stop him because once he lost that outlet, he figured out so many other ones, including my parents, who eventually had to get a stalking injunction against him.

He stalked the kids at school, he did get arrested for violating the protective order several times, but it didn’t stop him. He used court as much as he possibly could to traumatize us. I was constantly in fear. I mean it wasn’t fear it was going to happen of being served new orders, you know, new mm-Hmm. <affirmative> a new process that I had to appear in court.

Anne (18:54): It’s sad that the court does not realize that they are an extension of abuse. Yeah. They should just be like, this man is abusing her through filing things.

Vicki (19:08): They don’t do it. No. Until my youngest turned 18, I was definitely continued to be manipulated and, and bullied and just traumatized. You know, just things that he would just find ways to just infiltrate.

The Goal Needs To Be Safety

Anne (19:23): It’s awful with the death of my friend’s son, Om her ex murdered her son. It was really interesting because we know that domestic violence shelters can’t do much. I mean besides like stalking injunctions and protective orders, it seems like the goal of the domestic violence shelter is to get you to admit you need to get divorced and file for divorce.

Then they’re like, oh great, she’s on her way. Right. They don’t realize, like I think the goal needs to be safety.

Vicki (19:55): Right.

Anne (19:56): If she is not safe and the protective order doesn’t do it and a stalking injunction doesn’t do it, does this man need to be put in jail?

Vicki (20:06): Right.

Anne (20:06): Does he need to be imprisoned?

Vicki (20:09): Well, he did need to because of many other things that haven’t been discussed. He has committed crimes and he has not served a day.

Anne (20:19): Has he ever been charged?

Vicki (20:21): No.

“He’s Still Out on The Streets Harming People.”

Anne (20:21): It’s frustrating. Yeah. You know what’s happening and other people know what’s happening and he’s still out on the streets harming people.

Vicki (20:30): Yeah. I was actually told by the assistant attorney general of the state of Utah, there is no doubt whatsoever that he is guilty, but you don’t have the right kind of evidence and he’s gonna get away with it.


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