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I was able to divorce my abusive husband by opening a secret bank account

I’m a freelance writer residing in RI, with my four children and three dogs. I love walking the ocean shore, cranking the music loud and dancing around the house while no one is home.

How I managed to escape my abusive husband and make a better life for me and my kids

For most, getting a divorce can be a difficult time. For me, it was one of the happiest times in my life. It came down to my doctor looking at me in a hospital bed telling me my marriage was destroying me. His words were, “If you don’t get out, your marriage will kill you.”

Harsh words, but it was the truth. You see, I was in an abusive relationship — both physical and emotional. I met my ex-husband when I was at a low in my life. He used that to his advantage and continued to chip away at my self-esteem.

We went on to have two children, and when our second daughter came along she was a loving child. She found the good in people and she showed me how to love again. Little Lexi made me want to be a stronger person. With her as inspiration, along with my doctor’s words, I began to construct a plan.

More: The stress from my divorce made me sick with Hashimoto's disease

Once I rehabbed and felt strong enough, I found a new job making more money. I paid off all the debt I could and opened a secret savings account. I put as much as I could without drawing suspicion each week.

One day during a brawl with my ex, I ran from the house with him throwing shoes at me. I didn’t go back. I took my kids and left. I had money in the bank and a car. That was it — or so I thought.

More: How to take care of your emotional well-being during a divorce

Turns out, I had much, much more. I had my life and my children’s lives back. I was happy all the time. I didn’t feel like I had to walk on eggshells and neither did the kids. Sure it was scary at first, but we all wanted something better. We craved a life without abuse.

Over the next year, I found another new job that paid more money than I thought I’d ever make. I found the confidence to apply for jobs that once seemed out of my range. With each day, my relationship with my kids grew stronger. We did more things together. We played board games, went on vacations and hugged frequently. You see, we didn’t show affection in our house. My ex-husband was cold and didn’t know how to show love.

The girls flourished into young women and have wonderful self-esteem thanks to me boosting it every day. I showed them how to be treated by a man. How to do things on their own and how to be strong. The girls are my best friends. My son also learned many lessons. He learned how to treat a woman.

There are two sayings that drive me crazy. “You need to stay married for the children,” and “Why didn’t you just leave?”

Leaving isn’t always an option. You may want to leave, but you can’t. You feel stuck with low self-esteem and no money. Men like my ex make sure your friends and family are pushed out of your life. They keep you on a short leash.

As for staying for your children — definitely not. They understand more than you want to believe. If you’re constantly fighting, they know. And guess what, they’re most likely suffering from anxiety. They’d rather you divorce than constantly fight. So, do everyone involved a big favor and either get help or get out.

If I had stayed in that marriage, I’m not sure where I would be today. Luckily, I’m alive and happily remarried to a wonderful man who wouldn’t dream of treating me less than like a queen.

More: 5 Secrets that are totally OK to keep from your spouse

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