Despite everything, I still loved my abuser

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Photo: Cindy Tang/Unsplash

All stories about abuse are hard. For me, this one is the hardest. It’s the hardest because it’s the truest, and because it complicates our impulse to separate the good guys from the bad guys. My husband was one of each.

When his dark side was in control, he was abusive; there is no disputing this. He would scream at me, threaten me, call me names; he monitored my phone and laptop; he isolated me; he lied, he stole, and he drank until his face twisted into a sneer and his normally soft-spoken voice curdled into a vicious snarl.

That’s…


Observations from a woman on the trail

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Photo: Westend61/Getty Images

“That was a nice ride,” she said. “Thank you.”

They must have met for a bike ride on what appeared to have been a first date and now they were saying goodbye. She held her hand out definitively to shake his.

“Aww, c’mon,” he said, and stretched his arms wide to invite a hug. She stuttered for a moment and then gave him one of those one-arm-plus-pat-on-the-shoulder-blade hugs that people tend to use with distant cousins. There was no confusion. …


After fleeing an abusive marriage, I seek touchstones of kindness

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Photo: Ariel Skelley/DigitalVision/Getty Images

Men will hurt you.

The warning whispers at the fringes of my consciousness; I can’t shut it up. In my defense, it’s not untrue. Watch the news, look at the statistics. Our president is an actual rapist. A rapist. The president.

The degree to which women are endangered by men has never been clearer to me than when I fled my own abusive marriage. My first stop was a home for battered women and children. Naively, I was shocked by the sheer number who’d beaten me out to claim one of the insufficient number of rooms the house had available…


After my divorce, I was no longer protected from the advances of married men

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Credit: Tiayrra Bradley/EyeEm/Getty Images

It’s happened three times now, with three different married men, in the three months since I’ve been divorced. It seems like too much of a coincidence to be coincidental.

It looks like this: A man I’ve worked with for years suddenly begins communicating with me exponentially more frequently than he did before I got divorced. A corporate VP so far north of me on the org chart that we’ve never met reaches out to schedule coffee and to “discuss my work and how it could contribute to future projects,” except when I get there we don’t really talk about any…


The false dichotomy of good guys and bad guys

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Photo: Cavan Images/Getty Images

He liked it rough, he said, and he liked to be the aggressor.

This surprised me, because he seemed so gentle, so soft-spoken. And it scared me, because I was less than six months out of an abusive marriage and still afraid of men in general. He may as well have told me he liked to screw goats or had a rap sheet featuring pedophilia. Rough sex was a nonstarter with me.

It was okay, though, because it took the pressure off. …


Life is hard right now, but I’m trying to amplify the positive moments whenever they pop up

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Photo: MamiGibbs/Moment/Getty Images

I found the cabinet at a garage sale. It was hideous: rough wood painted a fading puke green color. There were partially rotten patches in the wood, but I decided they didn’t affect its structural integrity. I needed it to store clothing because my apartment is so tiny; there’s not even a closet.

I lugged the cabinet up to my fourth-floor unit with the help of one of my neighbors, a good-looking financial planner who shamelessly hits on me even as he parades a new Tinder date through the apartment building lobby nearly every single night. I knew he would…


On seeing my abuser when I least expected it

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Illustration: alicemoi/Getty Images

I wasn’t sure I would ever see you again. I wasn’t sure I wanted to. By the time I left, I was so afraid of you that I didn’t even think about anything but getting away from you. It never occurred to me to prepare for what happened this morning.

When abusive relationships end—or when someone flees one, as I did—the focus is on the escape. The shape of these endings is not the same as the endings of other, of “normal,” relationships. It’s not a transition, one door closing so another can open or the turning of a page…


Internet Time Machine

What if I told you I just fled an abusive marriage — and I’m afraid

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Credit: John Holcroft/Ikon Images/Getty

This story is part of the Internet Time Machine, a collection about life online in the 2010s.

I am afraid of you. I’m afraid you’ll rape me, or hurt me, or play with my mind. I’m sorry to be so blunt, and I’m even sorrier because you’ve done nothing to elicit such fear, but there’s just no clearer way to say it: I’m afraid of you.

I used to trust my ability to judge whether a man was safe. But I have been wrong, and now I know I am capable of making a grave miscalculation. I don’t know how…


Each day after leaving brings emotions that are anything but simple

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Photo: David von Diemar/Unsplash

Day One

We leave in the night. It isn’t how I planned it, but none of this is how I planned it. Nobody plans to end up in an abusive marriage; we just ignore the signs that foreshadow its inevitability.

The girls are curled up like squirrels on the sleeping nests I’ve made them on the floor of our new apartment. I couldn’t have any furniture moved ahead of time because I couldn’t risk telling him we were leaving until after we did. Even the dog seems unfazed. …


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Photo by Michał Parzuchowski on Unsplash

When we talk about what women and children need in order to escape abusive husbands and fathers, the word we use is “resources.”

And resources — whether they take the form of food, clothing, shelter, counseling, or support groups — are undeniably important.

But what we really mean when we talk about resources — the one resource that actually counts, because it can get all the other resources — is money.

I think we need to be honest about this.

I also think we need to be honest about the fact that it’s unrealistic to hope that non-profit organizations —…

Maggie Haukka

Coder, Decoder, Code-switcher, Truth-teller.

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