Being in an abusive relationship wears you down mentally and physically. Unfortunately, I know this from experience. My life is now is totally different and has a happy ending since I have remarried, but there was a time I didn’t know if I would make it out alive.

I met my ex-husband while working at a convenience store. He was charming and attractive. Our marriage was wonderful for 10 years. He was a great father and husband during that time. However, he changed and the last four years were horrendous. I don’t know if it was his mental condition or the drug abuse, but he became excessively paranoid and obsessive with me.

More and more frequently he became physically abusive towards me when he thought I had misbehaved. It always ended with more bruises and scrapes to various parts of my body.

After I came home from a long day at work he was frantic about what I had done all day. If I was more than a few minutes late he was convinced I was out doing something wrong. After a full body inspection, he would sometimes relax and calm down.

He also called me at work numerous times throughout the day and if I  stepped away from my desk and missed a phone call it would only fuel his fears and anger.

I had tried so many times to make our marriage work. Although there were many incidents which could have been considered breaking points, mine was when a police officer was called to my house and I thought he would help me, but things only got worse.

Someone had overheard the screams and called the police.  The officer arrived at the door and asked my husband to step out into the yard so they could talk. After a few minutes I saw them out there laughing. I quietly stood by an open window as the officer instructed my abuser on how to hit me without showing any marks. Before the officer left, he also told him to “keep it down a bit.”

I guess my ex-husband was anxious  to try out his newly learned tactics because once he closed the front door behind him, he came after me again. Within minutes, I was down on the floor as he repeatedly kicked me. As I lay there trying to defend myself from his numerous blows to my head I had thoughts that this would be the time he was going to kill me.

Although, it is very dangerous I knew it was over, but he was the one who would have to leave. So, I packed up his clothes and arranged for him to go to his sister’s house in Dallas. Amazingly enough, he complied. But, the relief would only be short term and definitely not the end to my life of terror.

Life was very scary as he not only threatened to kill me, but also my children. He told me if he killed the children, that would be the best way to hurt me.

While trying to sleep-in one Saturday morning, I awoke to a terrifying sight. He was standing over me with a large butcher knife held above his head as if ready to plunge it into my chest. He smiled and said, “Hi honey, I’m home.” Afterwards he laughed eerily before turning around and leaving the room.

The most traumatic incident happened in front of my children and it was the one that convinced me to leave our house. My four children and I were inside  when we heard pounding on the garage door. It was my ex-husband trying to get into the house.

Finally, he broke the door loose and entered the garage. I called for the police but they did not arrive while he was there. I stood out in the garage trying to convince him to leave and to keep him away from the children.

However, they watched in horror as he picked up a large ax and started swinging it at me. But, it was too heavy and he dropped it. He then saw a wooden baseball bat in the corner and started swinging it at me. Each time he swung  the bat the force pulled him foward and he narrowly missed me.

He was obviously intoxicated and the weight and momentum was too much for him to bear. So, he pushed past the children and went into the kitchen to get a large knife. He came back and lunged at me again as I was backed into a corner. I must have had angels watching over me that day because he could have killed me, instead he suddenly stopped in his tracks and started sobbing. He then picked up the ax and bat and left. A few blocks away he was stopped by police with his weapons. They confiscated them and took him to jail for public intoxication. I wanted to press charges, but was told by police officers that “ he didnt actually do anything.”

As a result, our life on the run began. We moved to another small town in an attempt to hide and it worked, he never showed up at my house again.

I also finally convinced him to give me a divorce. But, before he would sign papers, he wanted to talk to me. As we sat in the restaurant, he calmly informed me he had stopped planning my murder. He said he gave up on the idea because he could not find a place to dispose my body. This may seem like a joke to some, but I am serious and so was he. I didn’t know what to say. I thought all the craziness was behind me, but I realized it would never be over.

All I ever wanted during those years was for it all just to stop. I have to say now, it is actually over. He died of a drug overdose. But, the pain of the life I had is still with me. I am saddened my children have those memories and always will.

As a victim of domestic abuse, I know the terror and humiliation involved. I know I am not alone too.

According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, three out of four people know someone who is or has been a victim of domestic violence. Shockingly, every 9 seconds in the U.S. a woman is assaulted or beaten and everyday more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends. Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women—more than car accidents, muggings and rapes combined.

Personally, I am urging abused women to do something for themselves and their children, because more than likely the violence will not just stop. It starts with maybe a push or a shove and then maybe a slap. He will say he is sorry and promise it will not happen again. But, I can assure you it does — over and over again.

It is not easy taking that first step. My children and I were on the run for several years after moving from our house. In the end it was worth it for me.  Happier and tranquil days are in my future.

Victims have a place to call for help 24 hours a day, seven days per week. The number to the National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).