But I had no idea what was to transpire.

Five years later, I loaded my children and dog into my car and left in fear for my life. The abuse – physical and emotional – of me, my children, his children, and our pets – led me, and professionals, to believe I was in imminent danger.

Leaving wasn’t an easy decision. I wanted to believe my marriage would work. I wanted to believe things would get better. What I didn’t know was that my husband had a history of abuse. What I didn’t know were the signs to look out for. What I didn’t know was that my story was almost identical to every other person experiencing domestic violence.

When I left I told my husband he needed help. He agreed, and I was really hopeful that he could change. It didn’t take long to see that the “standard” fix for abusers: an anger management class and some occasional talk therapy, just was not going to work. My husband had done the same anger program before. He went back to the same counselor. He begged me to come back. He said loved me more than before. He was sorry. I was the love of his life.

Every person I’ve talked with said they heard the same thing. We all want to believe love will cure all. But some things can’t be fixed.

As the weeks went on I continued to stay away. I got a small apartment and tried to assess what happened. What I needed to do next. The resources at Bradley Angle were my starting point. I attended the workshops they offered. I told my husband I wasn’t coming back. I wanted to sell our house, get my things, divide our assets, and move on. Quietly. Quickly.

What happened next was a living nightmare.

The restraining order was violated more than a dozen times. I found spyware on my computer and my daughter’s computer. My bank account was frozen. My credit cards were cancelled. I was followed. I got more than 300 emails, texts, and tweets.

I spent more money than I had trying to get divorced. I was displaced, much like a victim of a natural disaster, by conditions I couldn’t control.

I can’t do anything to change what happened. But what I can do is work hard every single day, in whatever way I can, to make the world a safer place. I will share my story and hope that maybe someone else will take comfort in knowing they are not alone.