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Relationship advice: my husband abuses me

Question: I have been with my husband for just over 4 years and married for 2 years, we have 2 children together. in the beginning it was great, but when I fell pregnant with my first child my husband started cheating on me, although till now he denies it even though I spoke to the other woman he was with while I was pregnant and she confessed all to me. However, I still stayed with him for the fact that i was pregnant with his child.
Since then nothing has changed it has just gotten worse. After I had my first child we got married due to pressure from his family (they are Muslim), but after that he became abusive to me, hit me a few times, pushed me, called me every name you can think of, but I still stayed with him, trying to keep things together for my son?s sake, then I fell pregnant with my second child, and things went from bad to worse. After I had my daughter, I have put on a bit of weight and she is now 8 months old, and since she has been born my husband hasn’t come home, I don’t know what to say to my son, he is only 2.5 years old and my daughter doesn’t even know her father, I told him that I wanted a divorce and he just laughed in my face. I want to leave him, but I don’t want to have to put up with the trouble his family will cause for me and I just don’t know what to do anymore, I am only 22 years old and I have had enough. I am scared to tell him because he can get abusive, please help me. I don’t know what to do.

Answer: There are a few issues you need to address. It sounds like you have decided that you want out of your marriage but are scared of your husband. If this is the case, you need to make contact with the Domestic Violence helpline and seek their assistance. They have trained professionals who deal with situations like yours all the time. Visit http://ofw.facs.gov.au/padv/03/telephone.html for a list of crisis / help line telephone numbers in each state.

As your husband has not been home for 8 months you can?t leave him, he?s already left you. What you didn?t explain is: has he left you in the ?care? of his family? You indicate that they have some control over you so I am wondering if you are living with them. As you are separated from your husband (I consider not coming home in eight months separation), there is nothing to stop you from initiating divorce proceedings and once you have been separated for a year you can divorce. If you show your husband you are taking steps to divorce him, he is more likely to take you seriously instead of laughing. However as you are so young and appear to feel you have been left on your own with two small children, I strongly recommend you seek help and support from qualified professionals rather than try to go it alone. A very useful book for you to read is Surviving Solo by Meredith Cameron (available from the she said bookshop http://www.seekbooks.com.au/featuredbook1.asp?StoreUrl=shesaid&bookid=073140128X&db=au, it has a list of all the contacts you will need and is a guide through the choppy waters of the break up of a relationship or marriage. Although you don?t mention your own family, if they are around and aware of the situation, perhaps they would be willing to give you emotional and practical support.

If you don?t want your marriage to end and believe there is some hope of reconciling, you need couples counselling or therapy to get your marriage back on track. From what you have written, it is clear your marriage is in serious trouble and although your husband may not want a divorce, it would appear from his desertion of you and the children that he?s not interested in being a father to the children or a husband to you. Make sure of his feelings and his commitment to your marriage, you and the children before investing your emotions and time into making the marriage work. You also need to consider that he has already been physically and emotionally violent and unless he gets help he is likely to continue to abuse you and may also abuse the children. You have a lot to consider and again I would stress that you seek professional help so you make wise choices for yourself, your son and daughter.

Relationship advice: My man is afraid of commitment