By Marissa Hicks

I am a 31 year old single mother. I never imagined I would be in this position, however, I absolutely love being a mother and I would do anything for my daughter. I left an abusive relationship to enhance both hers and my life. I was very fortunate to have a strong supportive family who were able to guide and help me. This unfortunately is not the case for other women. I found there was not enough community support for women in this situation. It takes a lot of strength to leave a relationship that has made you feel worthless and incompetent. I had been stripped of my confidence and at 28 years old I had very little education and no money. Luckily for a women’s support group in Calgary, I was able to grasp how the best outcome for both my daughter and I was to leave, as hard as it was going to be. I learnt from another woman in this class that if I do not move on from my relationship, my daughter will think it is acceptable to be treated poorly in her future relationships.

Here is a link to a website that has some eye opening information for men and women to read if they have children, or are thinking of having children, who are currently in an abusive relationship. Another link to give information pertaining to the harmful effects on children, who witness domestic violence can read.

It is hard to believe at the time when people tell you that it will get better. But, it does. I am speaking from experience. It was NOT easy. It took two years. I have never been happier, and my daughter is such a happy, intelligent little girl. Many people have shared their stories, which may empower one to read. I found a couple online resources to read. Also, Battered Women’s Support Services is one of the women organizations that you can reach the information and support to empower yourself and plan a life free from abuse. BWSS provides counseling and services to support women based on their specific needs and in their legal case.

If you are not sure, if your relationship is in fact abusive, then it most likely is. There are so many levels of abuse aside from physical. Mental abusive can actually be more detrimental then physical abuse. It also gets worse in time. If your relationship is new and your spouse “accidentally” hits you, or didn’t mean to hit you cause he was drunk. Chances are he will do it again. Here is a link that may help you to put the pieces together to determine if you are in an abusive situation.

It took me a while to realize and accept I was being abused. I actually left and came back a couple times. He would always say the right things and I would go back. I could not stand being without him, since aside from the abuse I loved him dearly and was afraid I would never love someone again to such an extreme.  Over two years later, I have found someone who does not have an ill bone in his body and holds me on the highest pedestal in which I belong. The feelings I have now for my new beau exceeds any feeling of love, I once thought I could never replace.

It took a series of a couple events to realize I needed to leave. It was not due to the porn addiction, nor the lies, nor the cheating, nor the excessive drinking, drug use, mood swings. Not even the constant criticism of how at a size 4 at 6’1″ 130 pounds, I was fat! I didn’t consider leaving even when he wanted me to stop working and stay at home to wait on him or when he would yell at me for hours and put me down for trivial things such as the dishes are not done or I am not dressed nice enough.

I left after he kicked our dog down a flight of 13 stairs and had no remorse. He was also getting bolder and would yell at me in front of people including our 10 month old. The final straw was seeing my daughter smiling and thinking nothing at the fact that her father was yelling and putting her mother down, as if it was a regular day.

Due to the stress of being exposed to family violence our daughter was delayed in some important developmental stages. She had not rolled over, not sleeping through the night as well as no interest in eating solids. Only 1 month after, we were on our own, she had exceeded those milestones.Here is an online article, which explains how children -even if they are in the womb- can be affected developmentally from domestic violence.

Everyone’s experience will be different, but the key is to know you are not alone and do not be embarrassed by what you are going through.

I am currently obtaining my undergrad, I may be the oldest in all my classes, however, I feel great about myself working towards a goal. Gaining this degree will enable me to better support my daughter, as well to be a better role model for her. Through school, I am gaining my self esteem back and I am happy to say that I am in a better place, emotionally, spiritually and physically. With that being said I am now faced with the horrible stigma that goes along with being a single mom. My next entry will discuss my next challenge.

Marissa Hicks is participating in Violence, Media Representations and Families a media literacy program joint initiative between Kwantlen Polytechnic University Sociology Department, First Voices and Battered Women’s Support Services