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Maxine Browne continued the interview.
In her words, “Then, thank God, I snapped out of my way of thinking and chose to leave my husband instead. The marriage lasted for 10 years. I thought marriage was meant to last until death do us part, unless there was adultery. This was how I was raised. This was what I believed to be right and true. However, the emotional and mental abuse took such a toll on me that I felt I could not go on. Today I see the flaws in my logic. But at the time, this plan seemed to be my only way out. I was going to hang myself in the shed. I didn’t want to make a mess and my daughter would not find me. I didn’t ask myself how a mother’s suicide might affect my 10 year old.
I clearly remember having the thought, if God doesn’t care more about me than this I care more about me more than this! This thought opened my thinking, and I began to seek other options.
I talked to my oldest daughter. ‘I can’t do this anymore. I have nowhere to go, but I can’t live like this.’ She said, ‘Talk to Mary (a family acquaintance who worked with troubled youth). She never tells you what to do, but you figure things out while you talk to her.’
So I called Mary. I made a Saturday appointment. ‘I feel frozen,’ I said.
She said, ‘You are not frozen or you would not be sitting on my sofa. You are moving, you just can’t tell you are moving.’
‘I don’t have anywhere to go.’ She said, ‘Come here.’
That was Saturday. I moved in with her the following Tuesday evening.
All I needed was a plan, an exit strategy for my situation. Before Mary spoke up, my only option was suicide. With a better plan came a better outcome.”
Her counselor’s advice, “I had a very wise counselor. She said, ‘Maxine, the lawyers will all go home one day. Negotiate matters so that in the future you can all attend high school graduations and weddings without drama. Think long term, not short term.’ With this background, I negotiated my custody, visitation, and divorce settlements. I protected myself from verbal abuse on his part. If he began to insult me over the phone, I said, ‘Someone is at the door. I have to go now. Have a nice day.’ If he would begin to insult me in person, I would say, ‘I have to go now. Have a nice day.’ I’d Exit. I protected myself so I could recover.
All negotiation was based on long-term thinking. I also found that I could ask him for nothing. If I asked for a change in weekend visits, it gave him power, so he would deny my request. I learned to keep my power by never asking for favors. It worked for me.
After he remarried, things got even calmer. We recently attended my daughter’s high school graduation with absolutely no drama. We had separate celebrations to prevent negative incidents. We created a system that works for everyone.
Her spirit evolved, “This was not my only abusive relationship. I was confronted with the question: Are all men dogs? Or is there something broken in me that attracts broken men? I must say that the latter was the only logical answer. So I began an aggressive course of healing my inner self. I went to 4 years of Adult Children of Alcoholic meetings to resolve issues of being raised in an alcoholic home. I went to 2 years of individual therapy and one year of domestic violence support group therapy.
My faith has gone beyond a traditional Christian faith to a more expanded spiritual view. I read lots of books and focus on inner peace and healing. I believe God is everywhere, not just inside a church. We are all connected. We are all one and God dwells within us all. Today I feel whole. I married a wonderful family man with a healthy life view. Today we are at peace."
Her advice for anyone suffering domestic violence, “An abuser never wears a sign or a black hat. As a matter of fact, when you meet him, he will seem perfect. He will woo you. He sweeps you off your feet. He can’t get enough of you. This may not be alarming; it may even be charming. Be careful! He may be an abuser.
He hates your family and friends? Watch out! This could be a red flag that you have met an abuser.
He may be concerned with how you dress. He doesn’t want anyone to think of you like one of those women. Oh, oh! Watch out! He may be an abuser.
These three signs are the most common early warning signs:
1. Whirlwind romance
2. Isolates you from friends and family
3. Excessive possessiveness or jealousy
If you see this pattern, please talk to a domestic violence advocate.”
Maxine talked about her book, “Domestic Violence is not about physical assault. It is about control. One person in the relationship tries to control the other person through a series of tactics. In my book, Years of Tears, I share the story of what my family suffered during my 10-year marriage to a controlling tyrant. For the book, I interviewed my two oldest children who tell the story of being abused by their stepfather. I show how control tactics were used against our family. I then outline the impact the tactics had on the family and the red flags I did not see that could save you or your friend from the abuse we suffered. The book is available on Amazon and there is a Kindle version, http://ow.ly/hHZJV.”
You can contact Maxine for a speaking event by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on Twitter (@MaxineBrowne) or connect with her on Facebook at http://ow.ly/gZ8i8.