Are You In An Abusive Relationship?

in an abusive relationship

By Jackie Pilossoph, Founder, Divorced Girl Smiling, the place to find trusted, vetted divorce professionals, a podcast, website and mobile app.

Last night was the Super Bowl, so today seemed like an opportune time to publish this post, written by an anonymous author who was in an abusive relationship.

I know, I know… it’s a myth that Super Bowl Sunday spikes the highest incidence of domestic violence. But still, I have to believe that drinking and partying and football can lead to domestic violence and abuse in a relationship. Even more important, EVERY day, domestic violence is a crisis for millions of people. It strikes all classes, all ages, all genders, all races, and all ethnic backgrounds. 

Here is the story of one woman who was in an abusive relationship that involved drugs, alcohol and violence, which led her to having her own drug and alcohol abuse issues. She feels that reading her story might help others. I hope so.

Till Death Do Us Part…

(by a writer who will remain anonymous)

“ I, Hannah , take you Brad, to be my lawfully wedded husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.”  These were the vows that many women say at their wedding, and I can only speak for myself but I meant every word of them.

Every little girl dreams of their wedding day, wearing a beautiful white dress, living happy ever after, and riding off into the sun with their prince charming.  Man, if I knew what was coming in the years to follow I would have seen that day for what it was. Not a dream come true, but a complete nightmare.

When Brad and I first starting dating it was like a dream!  He completely swept me off my feet and we fell madly in love.  I say madly because that is what our relationship turned into very quickly… absolute madness and chaos.  I moved into his apartment after 3 months of dating and that’s when everything changed. Everything I did was then controlled by him… every aspect of my life was dictated by him and would get angry easily if I did not do exactly what he wanted and yell at me daily.  He controlled everything from what I wore and who I could talk to, completely cutting me off from my friends and family. This began the cycle of emotional abuse that became a regular occurrence in my life. Anytime I tried to stand up to him he would tell me that everything he was doing was because he loved me and just wanted what was best for me.  He was 15 years older than me so I believed this lie. In my eyes he had more life experience and he regularly reminded me that I was less than him in every way.

We drank, we partied, and we fought. I never felt good enough and was constantly trying to fit into this impossible mold he had.  Then the physical abuse started and the cycle of abuse began.  He would hit me and then tell me if was my fault because I made him mad.  He told me he loved me and that was the only reason he would get so mad. Every time this happened my self esteem and self worth plummeted.  Every time after the abuse happened the romancing began and I would forgive him and believe him when he said it would never happen again. Needless to say my family and friends wanted me to leave him, so I got really good at hiding the bruises and acting as if everything was ok.  


One day I had enough and told him I was leaving.  He begged me not to leave and promised me he would change.  Two days later he asked me to marry him. I had my reservations but I thought that getting married would fix everything and we would live happily ever after.  The wedding planning process was a nightmare to say the least. At this point the dress was bought, venue booked, and invitations sent out. I thought I was too deep in to back out.  On our honeymoon the verbal and emotional abuse started again. He knew he had me trapped by marriage now.


Within a couple of weeks the physical abuse started again… and was worse than ever.  One night he came home blackout drunk. I would not have sex with him and he flew into a fit of rage.  He dragged me across the apartment by my hair screaming that he was going to kill me. A neighbor heard him and called the cops.  Brad reached over the kitchen counter and grabbed a butcher knife. Somehow I was able to get free from him as he chased me around the apartment with the knife.  I ran out the front door into our lobby with him close behind me. He continued chasing me down the street when the cops showed up he ran into the neighborhood next to ours.  The cops were able to chase him down and he was arrested and charged by the state with felonious assault with a deadly weapon. The gig was up. I did not have to hide anymore and the state placed a mandatory no contact order.  While Brad was in jail my family helped me move out of the apartment and in with them as I began the divorce process.


I was free from him but still in the grips of the stress and trauma that had happened.  I began drinking heavily and using drugs to avoid the feelings of what happened to me.  I knew if I did not deal with these emotions it would run me for the rest of my life. My mom watched me in this downward spiral and stepped in to find me help.  I entered a detox facility followed by inpatient treatment center with intensive therapy to deal with my trauma and substance abuse.


It was incredibly difficult and painful but it taught me how to cope and heal from the trauma of the abuse.  I am not going to lie, there are still triggers that hit me out of nowhere and take me back those moments, but I now have the coping skills to process those emotions and work through it.  Through working a program of recovery I am now healthy, happy, and sober and no longer need to numb my feeling with substances!


Was this difficult?  Yes. Was it worth it? Absolutely yes!  By working through these events in my life I was able to break the cycle.  Now my passion has become helping other women who have been or still are where I was at.  You are worth living the beautiful life that you deserve!


Here are 4 tips if you are in a physically abusive relationship:

1-  Acknowledge the existence of abuse

2- Reach out for help–whether it’s a therapist, a hotline, a family member, or the police

3- Use a safe computer not accessible by the abuser

4- Make every effort to address the underlying issues that led you to being in a dysfunctional relationship so that it doesn’t happen again. In other words, via individual therapy or group therapy, get to the bottom of things… explore what led you to this pattern.


Some warning signs that you may have a substance abuse problem

1. Going to more than one doctor to get prescriptions or using other people’s prescriptions
2. Increased financial problems
3. Feeling isolated from friends or family
4.Needing more and more of the drugs or alcohol to obtain the desired feeling
5. DUI or other consequences with the law
6. Changes in behavior to hide your drinking or  drug use from others
7. Drastic changes to your health and appearance
8. Difficulty doing everyday tasks
9. Finding it impossible to feel normal or function without substances
10. Change in sleep habits
11. Attempts to stop or cut back on drinking or drug use has failed

If you think you need help, here is a list of resources:

The National Domestic Violence Hotline



National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Alcoholics Anonymous


The Center for Divorce Recovery





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    Jackie Pilossoph

    Editor-in-chief: Jackie Pilossoph

    Jackie Pilossoph is the Founder of Divorced Girl Smiling, the media company that connects people facing with divorce to trusted, vetted divorce professionals. Pilossoph is a former NBC affiliate television journalist and Chicago Tribune/Pioneer Press features reporter. Her syndicated column, Love Essentially was published in the Chicago Tribune/Pioneer Press and Tribune owned publications for 7 1/2 years. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism from Boston University. Learn more at:

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